The Arduino Uno, first unveiled at Maker Faire Rome, is one of, if not the most iconic symbols of the Maker Movement.
The Arduino Uno R4 WiFi maintains the external appearance of a typical Uno, including compatibility with critical shields and the 5V operating voltage required by most shields. However, a closer look reveals that the new board has several cards to play.
The first is a bit of a gift, considering the name: Built-in Wi-Fi through an ESP32-S3 coprocessor (which also means Bluetooth/BLE!). In fact, the ESP32 can even be reprogrammed, giving you two microcontrollers for the price of one! A new partnership with Renesas brings a primary 32-bit RA4M1 microcontroller, making this the first 32-bit Uno-shaped offering from Arduino, with a significant performance increase compared to the R3.
Other subtle improvements include a USB-C port for programming and Human Interface Devices (HID) functionality (i.e., the R4 can act as a keyboard or mouse) and a QWIIC connector for easy connection to sensors and actuators without a shield or breadboard.
The Arduino Uno R4 WiFi represents a significant step forward compared to the venerable R3. During the pre-launch promotion, the R4 was typically shown with a large yellow rectangle that obscured part of the board, which seemed “part of the design” but clearly hid something.
Arduino co-founder Massimo Banzi revealed that the area “under the yellow rectangle” is actually a 12×8 LED matrix, offering exciting possibilities to the board without the need for additional external hardware.
The example code includes displaying a single frame, animation cycles, and even running a full simulation of Conway’s Game of Life! An editing tool for the LED matrix also allows you to define graphics and animations visually, making it easier to use.
An integrated 12×8 LED matrix offers exciting possibilities to the board.
Although the software was released just today, we tried to test the board with as many “classic” UNO examples as we could think of, and everything worked well, despite the architectural change away from the 8-bit AVR.
An early adopter program put the boards in the hands of open-source library developers and project managers to help resolve any incompatibilities before the launch.
Overall, the Arduino Uno R4 WiFi represents such a significant step forward compared to the venerable R3 that it is easy to recommend it as the first board for the current generation of makers. The R3 has not been discontinued, but given the identical price and robust compatibility, it’s nearly impossible not to take advantage of everything the new board offers at the same price. And if price is a concern, the UNO R4 Minima is available for $20, without Wi-Fi, LEDs, or the Qwiic connector. Both boards are available today from Arduino and authorized distributors.
This article is freely adapted by the one wrote by David Groom su makezine
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