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For those of you interested in climbing into the world of electronics and arduino micro-controllers, here's a way you can get started for free.

https://123d.circuits.io/

While there is some educational material available there, that's not the strength of this website. The real hidden gem here is the electronics simulator, which is amazing. The simulator provides you with a breadboard that you can install a large selection of virtual electronic parts on. A choice of Arduino micro-controllers to interface with it AND the ability to write coding for the Arduino. Then you can run a simulation to see the results of your assembled circuit and program. The interface is really intuitive and easy to use.
It's like having an electronic home shop with thousands of dollars of parts and equipment. You can add O'scopes, multimeters, etc. I've only started playing with, but so far I'm really impressed. It's not perfect. Some aspects are a little too simplified. When you install an LED, you aren't given forward and reverse voltage. But, the LED either lights, blows up or glows very dim so you know the resistor is important anyway.

For the advanced person, you can design your own dedicated electronics board using commercially available chips, test it AND get then to quote you a cost for them to make it for you.

You do have to register, but the free sign up is sufficient to give you access to the simulator.

Happy Haunting.
 

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I've been reading about the arduino for a few months and it looks like a great economical micro controller that is extremely versatile....I've read a few beginner tutorials but none of them have helped me understand things like:
1a. Does a shield push directly on to the arduino board pins or do you wire/solder them?
1b. Does the shield use the inputs,outputs, power, etc of the arduino reducing the amount of available inputs and outputs you have to work with and if so..... can you still use the remaining pins that aren't used by the shield for other things like leds?
3. What about servos, can you run them from pwm outputs directly or do you have to buy an additional board of some sort?
4. If you can in fact run servos directly from the pwm outputs, can you have a combination of servos and leds running on the pwm outputs so you have the ability to dim leds?
Thanks for any insight....I thought about joining the spark fun forum to ask these questions but you know how it goes :)...I also thought about buying an uno just to see if I could figure it out by tinkering but still feel I need alot more reading to do first even though I have several hours reading already....I haven't found a tutorial that explains what the arduino is capable of on it's own with just the outputs provided....If I understood that, I think I would be more eager to tinker....Thanks again....ZR
 
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