Arduino Pro Micro, the tiny sub-$10 microcomputer


Those of you who’ve been following my Arduino Masterclass in APC magazine will know I’ve been using the standard Arduino Uno microcontroller board throughout the series.

But we recently received a request from a reader asking if it was possible to get an Arduino to work as a foot-operated mouse button. The answer is yes, and you’ll find it in the October 2013 issue of APC magazine, out now.

We’ve used the new Arduino Pro Micro, a tiny version of the latest Arduino Leonardo, which itself is a replacement for the Arduino Uno. What’s amazing about the Pro Micro is it not only contains the same horsepower as the larger Uno but has a built-in USB controller ready to go. It runs the same code (in fact, it runs extra functions as well) and plugs into the Arduino IDE.

Even more amazing is the fact that you can pick it up for under $10 including shipping from retailers on eBay.

Over the last 20 years or so, I’ve spent plenty of time writing how-to stuff about computers, software and hardware in PC User, and now APC and TechLife magazines, but if you want to gain a deeper understanding of how technology actually works, I can’t recommend anything better than the Arduino microcontroller board series. It’s a great, low-cost way of getting your hands dirty in understanding how software and hardware come together to create actual devices we use.

So far in the APC Arduino Masterclass series, I’ve looked at how to build all sorts of things from a TV weatherstation, stereo music player, robots, even a self-tweeting Twitter client. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of things an Arduino can do.

Eventually, you will run up against Arduino’s performance end-stops if you keep going long enough, but by then, you’ll have excellent experience at software design, electronic design, how to interface digital outputs with real-world analog devices and all manner of problem-solving.

If you’re interested in a career in computing, electronics or both, Arduino is a great place to start. But remember – beyond Arduino, there is a huge world of electronic engineering and computing areas you can dive into and really get your hands dirty.


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