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Arduino Emulator?
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Arduino Emulator?

by IntelliTom on Fri Nov 30, 2012 5:55 am

Hi Guys

I am just getting into electronics and have ordered myself one of Adafruit's Arduino starter kits. However, I'm partially disabled and have to spend a lot of time immobilised. Now that shouldn't stop me from doing some breadboard prototyping, but if it's late at night or my small children are around then I can't be having small parts or soldering irons around. So it popped into my head that there could be an emulator to help me learn the programming side, etc. I currently have zero programming experience, save for a bit of HTML and PHP.

Doing a quick google there does seem to be solutions out there. But I wanted to get some advice on what is good or even if it's worth doing that?
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Re: Arduino Emulator?

by jarruda on Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:16 am

Hey IntelliTom! Fellow electronics newbie myself here, but professional coder.

I think a full-blown Arduino simulator with simple components like LEDs, buzzers, transistors, etc would be a fantastic idea! Especially if it were integrated with something like Fritzing. A quick google yielded the Simulator for Arduino that bills itself (as of the beginning of this year) as the most full-featured simulator around right now, though I saw a couple of others floating around as well at different stages of implemented. Not having used any, I can't comment on any of their usability.

To be honest, though, I think you might get more bang for your buck by figuring out how you can breadboard things with small ones about. Especially with a ProtoShield for your Arduino with the mini breadboard stuck to it keeps everything very compact. I don't know the nature of your disability, but I've spent a few late nights in bed messing around with a small parts box on the nightstand with the laptop and arduino on my lap - it's pretty manageable.

For just learning programming the arduino, you can build plenty of really simple circuits to test your understanding of electronics and progamming - simple buzzers, buttons, potentiometers, and LEDs combined with the Serial Monitor to see your "print" statements (echo in PHP land). You shouldn't really need to break out the soldering iron other than to assemble the protoboard and when you've decided on a concrete project that you'd like to build.

Other than that, have fun!
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Re: Arduino Emulator?

by ceratophyllum on Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:31 am

I was looking for this, too and couldn't find anything really nice.

By "really nice," I mean something with a pretty user interface like Fritzing (a graphical documentation and PCB design tool) that would actually allow you to graphically assemble your simulated arduino and simulated parts and then run a sketch. Imagine the pretty pictures made with Fritzing, but the LEDs, LCDs, etc. would flash and display text when you upload your sketch to the simulator.

There's some kind of thing called emulare, but it doesn't look too pretty. I'm not too good at C, so just uploading sketch to a real one and seeing what happens will have to do for me. It would be nice, however, if the IDE had a debugger to step through your running program, watch variables, etc.
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Re: Arduino Emulator?

by jarruda on Fri Nov 30, 2012 11:49 am

ceratophyllum wrote:I'm not too good at C, so just uploading sketch to a real one and seeing what happens will have to do for me. It would be nice, however, if the IDE had a debugger to step through your running program, watch variables, etc.


Indeed, a debugger is an invaluable asset to a programmer at any level, especially when learning the basics.

That being said, in this setting it might be easier to learn C separate from learning microelectronics. Debugging a program that's running on a microcontroller can be onerous given the limited options for a beginner (there's nothing stopping the debugger from communicating w/your program via serial, I don't think - but who wants to bother setting that up?), so figuring out your program in a local executable might be a worthwhile endeavor. There's certainly a breadth of information on the interwebs to teach you basic C using all free tools. Learning the arduino after that is just reading the reference & documentation.
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Re: Arduino Emulator?

by IntelliTom on Fri Nov 30, 2012 5:03 pm

ceratophyllum wrote:Imagine the pretty pictures made with Fritzing, but the LEDs, LCDs, etc. would flash and display text when you upload your sketch to the simulator.


Yes this is exactly what I was thinking. Would be great for kids learning also.

I have been getting together a kit of parts. I've got the arduino on a board with a breadboard next to it an but it into a small case. It should be fine for most things, I just thought the emulator idea would give me more time to test at the basic stages, before I start to implement ideas into project.

Thanks for taking the time to help, great community.
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