Ken Hough's Website
The Arduino system provides a very convenient and complete PIC (Programmable Interface Controller) development environment which is in two parts :
1. Compact PIC based controller boards which include 14 digital I/O lines, 6 analogue I/O lines, two build-in clocks, and a USB port. The latter is used to upload software onto the Arduino board, and can also enable the running software to communicate with a PC or other compatible communications devices.
2. A programer's IDE (Integrated Development Environment) which allows for writing applications in C or C++ for Arduino, and for uploading these applications onto an Arduino PIC board. The IDE is a JAVA application which is available free in packages to run under Microsoft Windows, MacOS, or Linux.
Earlier versions of Arduino boards provided only an RS232 serial port for communications. Recent versions also include an on board USB to RS232 serial converter, making them better suited for use with modern computers.
Why use Arduino?
Perhaps the easiest way to appreciate Arduino is to browse the Arduino website. Here you will find a detailed description of Arduino, a reference section about programing Arduino, example programs, links to relevant forums and projects, a link to download the programmers IDE, and lot's more. Well worth a look!
How to get started?
Simply buy yourself an Arduino board and download an Arduino IDE package suited to your own computer. I bought an Arduino Diecimilla from pcb-europe.net, for approx 40 Euros including VAT and P&P for delivery to the UK. A quick search on the Internet will show a number of possible suppliers.