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Microcontrollers, Software, and You — Part 2

In the previous installment, we discussed the Five Program Steps and how we can use those five steps to organize our thoughts about writing programs. In this article, we’ll discuss the format that the Arduino Integrated Development Environment (IDE) requires for your program to execute in the IDE. We’ll then examine how the IDE allows us to easily organize a program using the Five Program Steps.

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A Real-Time Operating System for the Arduino

An RTOS (Real Time Operating System) is a software component that lets you rapidly switch between different running sections of your code. Think of it as having several loop() functions in an Arduino sketch where they all run at the same time.

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Microcontrollers, Software, and You

Most of us have invested some time in learning those things we want or need to do. Learning how to program is no different, and it can be an extremely satisfying endeavor. Seeing a device respond to code you wrote is, well, intoxicating in a good way. My goal is to create an interest in exploring microcontrollers and encourage you into investing $5 and some of your time into that exploration. I honestly think you'll enjoy the journey.

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MakerPlot – The DIY Software Kit

If you use microcontrollers in your projects, imagine how helpful it would be to see the data in a graphical format, rather than just a series of numbers -- especially when debugging! MakerPlot does all of this and connects directly to your microcontroller’s serial port to display analog and digital data in graphical form; it’s DIY software for your microcontroller projects.

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Libraries and Headers in C: A Tutorial

If you’ve written a program for a microcontroller board such as the Arduino, Raspberry Pi, or Propeller QuickStart, you have relied on software libraries that provide constants and functions.  Often, we use software libraries without thinking much about them.

When you start to write libraries, it takes time to read documents, follow directions, and experiment with simple functions. Fortunately, after you understand how to create libraries and header files for the software tools you use, you'll have a useful skill that can simplify programming tasks.

Even if you never create a library, you probably want to know how they work and what they contain. This tutorial provides information that gives you a good start.

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C Preprocessor Reduces Debug Headaches

In my experience, few hobbyists or experimenters take advantage of C preprocessor operations. You've probably seen preprocessor directives such as #include <stdio.h> or #include "servo.h"among the first lines in programs. However, they are not part of the C language. When you compile a program, it first goes through a preprocessor that handles housekeeping tasks such as including files that operate a peripheral or that provide a function such as printf. This tutorial will show you how to take advantage of this.

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Practical Ideas for Portable Magnetic Loop Antennas

Magnetic loop antennas are becoming popular today because they can be very efficient for their size, do not need radials (even though most designs are vertically polarized), have useful takeoff angles, and can be easily rotated to peak or null a signal. Here’s how I designed a convenient setup for myself.

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