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An Arduino is a popular open-source microcontroller board used in ballooning. Its versatility and extensive documentation make it an ideal controller board for homemade circuits and scientific instruments. Arduinos can be picked up from a local RadioShack, from SparkFun Electronics, or built using schematics available on the Arduino website.


An Arduino is a microcontroller board that utilizes a popular input/output system that can be extended using components called shields. Shields can be placed directly on top of the Arduino and interface with the Arduino using serial I/O pins and draws power directly from the 5V and ground pins on the Arduino. In addition, an Arduino Proto Shield can be used to create custom components that are interchangeable with all Arduino boards of the same model. The most common Arduino board model is the Arduino Uno (ATmega328 chipset).


The Arduino board can be used to control many components. Components can be soldered onto a Proto shield, added using a pre-made shield, or connected using jumper pins. Servos, geiger counters, HAM radio units, and GPS trackers are just a few of the simpler applications of the versatile Arduino microcontroller system.


The Arduino is unique in the world of electronics in that its firmware is programmable via USB serial connections to the built-in flash memory instead of having to use an assembly hardware programmer. The Arduino software is available online and can be used to program both manufactured and home-built Arduino boards as well as a few third-party components. Arduino programs are called sketches and are based on a custom programming language that borrows functions from the C, C++, and Java programming languages. When compiling the code, the Arduino software automatically converts the Arduino sketch to valid C++ code and uploads the firmware to the flash memory on board the Arduino. From there, the Arduino will loop the sketch until the power is disconnected or the board is reprogrammed or reset.