The Arduino Uno has been around since the project began in 2005. Designed as a simple microcontroller-based control board for makers and DIY projects, over the years it has been upgraded to its new release, the Arduino Uno R4.
This low-cost maker board initially used an ATmega328 microcontroller, an 8-bit 28-pin micro running at 1 MHz. A major upgrade to the R3 saw the clock speed increased to 16 MHz but the same 8-bit control system was used. In the new R4 version, however, this microcontroller has been upgraded to a modern 32-bit 64-pin device made by Renesas and the board is available in two flavours, the R4 Minima and the R4 WiFi. Although featuring the same microcontroller, the Wi-Fi version has upgraded features including wireless communication and an 8 x 12 LED matrix for use as a simple display.
The Arduino Uno R4 is powered by the Renesas RA4M1 32-bit ARM Cortex-M4 processor, providing a major boost in processing power (3x faster than the R3) and memory. The chip runs at 48 MHz and has 32 kB of SRAM and 256 kB of flash memory. Of major interest is that the RA4M1 can work with a power supply of up to 5 V instead of the ubiquitous 3,3 V working supply. This allows backwards compatibility with the older versions of the Uno boards.
Wi-Fi is provided by the Espressif ESP32-S3 module, which also provides Bluetooth LE connectivity. This will provide a major boost for the maker community as more and more DIY and IoT projects are utilising wireless communication. The ESP32-S3 module can also act as an onboard CMSIS-DAP code debugger, bringing powerful debugging tools to a low-cost maker platform.
The old-style USB-B connector has been replaced with a modern USB-C connector and the maximum power supply voltage has been increased to 24 V. The board includes an SPI port, an I2C port and a CAN bus, enabling makers to connect multiple shields in series.
Analogue interfacing is provided through a 12-bit DAC with six input channels. One 12-bit DAC is also available onboard. PWM is provided on six digital output pins.
The included 8 x 12 red LED display is a nice touch and provides a simple interface for both text and simple animations. The 96-LED matrix is driven using Charlieplexing and uses on 11 GPIO ports (D28 to D38 in Arduino notation) on the microcontroller. Arduino has provided a library for writing to this LED matrix.
With the upgraded microcontroller, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functionality, and the LED matrix, this board is now perfect for IoT projects in the maker community and as a simple prototyping platform for industry.
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