Arduino and ElectricVLab

If you are an Arduino enthusiast, ElectricVLab can be very useful for you. One of the unique features of ElectricVLab is that virtual circuits built in ElectricVLab can communicate with the physical Arduino board. Instead of connecting hardware circuits to the Arduino board, with ElectricVLab, you can connect virtual circuits. As discussed in the article about electronics kits, virtual circuits provide some distinctive advantages.

Some Usage Scenarios

Let us look at some of the usage scenarios in which ElectricVLab can help an Arduino user.

Arduino Beginner Learning to Program

If you are a beginner just learning to program, it is important to  write a variety of programs. The more programs you write, the better you get. When you write a program, how do you know your program is correct and is behaving as you intended? For that, some kind of visual feedback is helpful. Many Arduino tutorials start with the “Make the LED blink” task precisely for this reason. When the LED blinks as intended, you know your program is correct.  But, the blinking LED would be an insufficient visual feedback for all but the simplest programs. Here, ElectricVLab comes to your aid. It has a whole variety of components to provide visual feedback. It has virtual instruments like voltmeters and ammeters to display values. The oscilloscope component of ElectricVLab can be used to display waveforms.  You can also make the firework rockets shoot up, water gush out of a fountain, light bulbs of multiple colors glow, a fan rotate, a robot animate and so on. Also, your program can simultaneously employ many of those. In summary, ElectricVLab has a rich collection of components that can be employed to provide visual feedback about the behavior of your program. Plus, it will be fun.

Arduino User New to Electronics

Some people start working with Arduino boards without much prior background in electronics. They want to learn electronics along the way. Helping people learn electronics was the most important goal behind the ElectricVLab project. The rest of the ElectricVLab website and the article on electronics kits provide more information about this.

ElectricVLab as Control Board for Arduino

You can use the virtual components of ElectricVLab to send input signals to the Arduino board. For example, your Arduino program can do one task when a switch in an ElectricVLab circuit is open, and a different task when that switch is closed. More generally, ElectricVLab can be your “control board” to control the behavior of your Arduino program.

Virtual Instruments to View Arduino Signals

You can utilize the virtual instruments of ElectricVLab such as oscilloscopes, voltmeters, and spectrum analyzers to look at the values of interest. In the absence of an oscilloscope, some people display text on the “Serial” terminal of Arduino to debug issues. Instead, using the virtual oscilloscope of ElectricVLab can be much easier and more helpful in many of those situations.

Software Simulation to Aid the Design of Processing Circuits

Sometimes, you want to process the input and/or output signal(s) of Arduino with some electronics circuit. Instead of straight away proceeding to build the circuit in hardware, it might be a good idea to first try out your plan with the virtual electronic circuitry of ElectricVLab. There in, you can quickly experiment with the design of the circuit by changing the components, their interconnections, and parameters. Once the design is solidified using software simulation, you can then proceed to building the circuit in hardware.

For More Details

More details about interfacing ElectricVLab with Arduino boards can be found in Chapter 5 of the ElectricVLab user manual.