Arduino Simulator Q & A
Want to learn more about the limitations of TinkerCAD as well as some helpful pro tips on how to use it? Keep watching to learn more!
Hey guys, in the last video, we showed you a really cool Arduino emulator, or simulator, called TinkerCAD. Since then, we’ve been getting tons of questions about TinkerCAD so we decided to make another video to address some of these questions.
In this video, we’ll discuss limitations of TinkerCAD, additional features that we didn’t talk about last time, and a few pro tips that we think you’ll really enjoy. Stay tuned. If you like these videos and you want to learn how to truly understand Arduino programming, then head on over to programmingelectronicsacademy.com.
We offer courses that teach you the absolute fundamentals all the way to the advanced stuff. We’ll see you there. All right, back to it! The number one question that has been asked about TinkerCAD is can it support user-created hardware?
A lot of people have specific components they are using in their projects and not all of these components are available. So many people want the ability to create and submit their own parts and components.
Unfortunately, you cannot do this in TinkerCAD. What you see in the components list is what you get. We agree this would be a sweet feature and hopefully in the future it is added. But as of September 2019, it does not exist yet. The second question that keeps coming up is can TinkerCAD support boards other than the Arduino Uno?
It does support one other microcontroller, the ATtiny board. It can be programmed. So this is pretty sweet for people who prefer to use these. Some people have been saying they wish that the Nano was available, and unfortunately it is not. Keep it mind however, the Uno and the Nano are very similar.
The biggest difference is the number of pins available. The Uno offers six analog inputs, where the Nano offers eight. And the Uno offers 14 digital pins, whereas the Nano offers 22. We bring this up because if you don’t need those extra pins, you can emulate the Nano in TinkerCAD using the Uno in its place and functionally, there will be no difference.
Next question, is there a debugger? Yes, and it’s rather useful. It’s this button right here. Let’s show you real quick how it works. I’m going to demonstrate it with one of our previous videos on the millis function. The link to that video is in the description below. In this tutorial, we are trying to create a repetitive event using a millis function.
Take a look at the code here. Now let’s plug that into TinkerCAD. We’ll run the stimulation and open the serial monitor. “Ice Ice Baby” every one thousand milliseconds, or every one second. Awesome, it works! But how does this relate to the debugger?
If you click the bug button, you can set break points within the sketch by clicking on the line numbers. So let’s click on line number 16. That’s our break point. Run the simulation and you will see that debugger will stop the program when our if statement is true and the “Ice Ice Baby” print line is triggered.
If we hover over the variables, we can see what their values are. This is a simplistic example, but you can see how this could be useful in more complicated sketches. Next question, can TinkerCAD accept inputs to its various sensors? How do you do this? Well the answer is definitely! This is one of the coolest parts to TinkerCAD.
You can mess around with various inputs with the click of a button. So we can demonstrate this very easily by showing you a temperature sensor and a photoresistor. And we’ll click start simulation. And you can see our light sensor values and our temperature sensor values being printed to the serial monitor.
Now you just click on the actual sensor and then you can adjust the input going to that sensor. Same thing is true with the photoresistor. And you’re adjusting it and you can see down in the serial monitor the values are changing. There’s also an ultrasonic distance sensor, which you can adjust the input to.
So first you’re gonna start the simulation. And then you can click on this object right here and move it. And you can see the distance from the sensor and it will therefore send a different value to the digital pin setup. So those were the top questions being asked. Next we’ll look at some additional features that we did not mention in the last video.
First up, let’s look at the available libraries to give you an understanding of the scope of TinkerCAD. To find all the libraries, you’re first going to need an Arduino in your workspace.
Then click code, then click this library button right here. You can see it doesn’t have all the libraries that Arduino.cc calls quote unquote standard, but it’s only missing a few. It also has a few that are not standard like IRremote, Keypad, NeoPixel, and Stepper library.
Next, let’s look a bit deeper into the various components that are available. Click the components drop down and then select all. Now we can see the components are broken down into several categories. Starting with general, here you have resistors, capacitors, and similar items. Next are the inputs.
So there are various buttons, sensors, potentiometers, and even a keypad, which is what the previously mentioned keypad library correlates to. Next you have outputs, which includes LEDs, NeoPixel strips, DC motors with encoders, servos, and LCDs, along with tons of other outputs.
Next up is power supplies, allowing you to choose from 1.5, three, and nine volt batteries. Next are three different sized breadboards. They have two different microcontrollers. Like we mentioned before, the Uno and the Attiny. Next are the instruments.
These can be extremely helpful. We especially like the multimeter because you can quickly pop it into your design and test the voltage, resistance, or amperage anywhere in your circuit.
This can help you troubleshoot pesky hardware issues and allows for a deeper understanding of what’s going on in your design. They also have integrated circuits, like timers and comparators, power control components like transistors and relays, an ESP8266 module for WiFi, and various logic chips.
So as you can see, there’s more than meets the eye when you look a little deeper into all the components available. Last but not least, here are some pro tips to get you started. First up is this handy rotation tool. Just click on a component, then click the rotation button, and your component will be rotated clockwise 30 degrees.
Next, let’s look at this annotation tool. By clicking this, you can drop notes anywhere in your design. This can be very helpful to keep things organized not only in your own mind, but especially if you’re gonna share your design with others.
You can click on each of the annotations to minimize the text or you can hide all of them by selecting this view/hide toggle button here. One person was curious on where the save as button is. Every time you create a new circuit design, it automatically gets saved to your dashboard. You can edit the name of your design by clicking the title here.
You can also go back to the dashboard and create a duplicate design, which allows you to effectively save as. Another excellent tip is to create projects by clicking here. This allows you to stay organized.
Otherwise it’s difficult to find a specific design that is mixed in with all the designs you’ve created from before. Once you’ve created a project folder, you can move previously created designs by clicking on the gear symbol on the top right of the tile and select move to project. So there you have it.
We’ve talked about a few limitations, some additional features, and some pro tips that are very useful. We hope you’ve enjoyed this video. If you did, please click the like button and subscribe.
Also, we would greatly appreciate it if you could let us know in the comments below what topics or lessons you’d like to hear about in the next video. And don’t forget, head on over to programmingelectronicsacademy.com for more Arduino training. Until next time, C up.