Arduino Uno Revision 3 is the new successor to the Uno board. With all the great features of the previous board the Uno adds faster USB transfer and can show up as a keyboard, mouse, joystick etc in your computer. This is a great introductory or rapid prototyping board.
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Supplier Link: [SparkFun MPN:DEV-11021]
Arduino is an open-source physical computing platform based on a simple i/o board and a development environment that implements the Processing/Wiring language. Arduino can be used to develop stand-alone interactive objects or can be connected to software on your computer (e.g. Flash, Processing, MaxMSP). The open-source IDE can be downloaded for free (currently for Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux).
This is the new Arduino Uno that now uses an ATmega16U2 instead of the 8U2 found on the Uno (or the FTDI found on previous generations). This allows for faster transfer rates, no drivers needed for Linux or Mac (inf file for Windows is needed), and the ability to have the Uno show up as a keyboard, mouse, joystick, etc.
The Uno R3 also adds SDA and SCL pins next to the AREF. In addition, there are two new pins placed near the RESET pin. One is the IOREF that allow the shields to adapt to the voltage provided from the board. The other is a not connected and is reserved for future purposes. The Uno R3 works with all existing shields but can adapt to new shields which use these additional pins.
The Uno easily connects to your computer via a USB cable to transfer programs 'sketches' for running on the board itself or for sharing data between the board and pc. It features 14 digital IO pins (6 can be used as PWM outputs), 6 analog inputs, USB connection, 16 MHz crystal oscillator, a power jack, reset button and ICSP header.
Power can be supplied directly from the USB cable or via the power jack from a battery or DC power supply with the Uno automatically selecting the power source.
Software for programming the Uno is available free from the Arduino web site and runs on Windows, Mac or Linux.
Part of the secret to the Arduino success is that it makes microcontrollers accessible to people without previous experience. The USB support and bootloader on the Uno make it easy to transfer programs to the board without any additional hardware unlike many other boards, plus the large community of enthusiests sharing program examples and hardware setup ideas makes gettings started easy.
If you are new to electronics and/or programming then I strongly recommend Limor's Arduino tutorial as an excellent intoduction.