You’re probably reading this on a computer that consists of a central processor, some memory chips, some file storage (magnetic drive or more memory chips), a keyboard or touch-panel, and an LCD screen. These items are the basics of all computing: processing, volatile (temporary) storage, nonvolatile storage, input devices and output devices.
Mechatronic and IoT devices are just the same, except everything is much smaller; they are typically powered by a microcontroller which is a term for devices that combine all the traditional parts of a computer onto a single chip (or an integrated multi-chip module).
Just how small can vary. The range of scale and power available for IoT devices encompasses:
I am going to talk about these kinds of devices in the following chapters. At the low-end, the Arduino and similar are excellent but are not powerful enough to connect to the internet on their own. At the high end, there’s a place for the more powerful and expensive devices in some projects, but often they are unnecessarily complex.
In the *microcontroller( realm you typically have the following resources:
Above: Classes of embedded computers: L-R DigiSpark, Arduino Nano, NodeMCU, Raspberry Pi
A modern 32-bit microcontroller is about as powerful as a home computer from the 1990s, but shrunk to the size of a postage stamp.
To develop program code for a microcontroller you write your programs on a normal sized computer and then “upload” the program to the microcontroller. This can be done with a wired connection or sometimes over wireless links.