Getting Started with Arduino

Getting Started with Arduino

By Timothy Coyle


This is my quick primer on the Arduino platform and how to setup and use it for learning electronics and prototyping.

What Is Arduino

Arduino is an open-source platform for electronics development. It consists of a development board and software - both open-source - that allows you to make and build whatever you want. Basically it's a small computer that has inputs and outputs that you can write code for and do neat things - like turn on a light or run a motor or send a text message over wifi.

Learning Electronics

There are a lot of different ways and resources to learn about electronics but the Arudino platform offers a complete package of both hardware and software, cheap development tools, and a thriving ecosystem and user community. If you want to learn electronics then it's best to use a microcontroller or computer so you can interact with the world around you.

Some people complain that the Arduino platform isn't a good way to learn programming because while you do write code in C language there are a lot of helper functions/libraries so some of the low level stuff is hidden from you but I think that's a good thing especially when you are starting out.

Getting Started

The best way to get started is to buy the Arduino UNO development board. I would go through the offical Arduino site and use one of their suppliers. You will find there are a lot of different Arduino boards you can buy (that's because it's open source which is nice) but starting off with the UNO is the best way to go. It's the basic board and most tutorials/kits are based on it.

Once you have your UNO then you just need to download the IDE (integrated development environment) for free from Arduino site and install it. First program to open and run is the blinky LED and it will blink the LED on the UNO board. Success!

Going Further

There are a ton of resources out there on learning electronics and software programming with the Arduino including the official Arduino site. My suggestion is to decide what you want to do with the Arduino and then find the right material to learn from.


Sign up for my monthly email newsletter Signal Bytes to get the latest on embedded hardware design