Arduino Tutorial for Beginners – Getting Started
This article is intended for hobbyists and electronics enthusiasts who are new to Arduino. In this Arduino Tutorial for Beginners, I’m going to explain what is Arduino, in plain English. You’ll discover why Arduino is so famous, and, most importantly, you’ll know if Arduino is right for your project by the end of this tutorial. We will also be discussing different types of Arduino, Arduino programming as well as the creation of various Robotics projects on Arduino. So lets get started!
What is Arduino? (In a nutshell)
Let’s start with our first question, what is Arduino exactly? I believe the best way to describe Arduino is, to begin with, what it can do. It is, in essence, a device for manipulating electronics. Consider a pencil. A pencil is a tool that helps you write. You could pick up a pencil if you need to write anything down. With Arduino, the concept is the same. However, this is an electronic control tool. Grab an Arduino if you need to control electronics stuff like Robots and Stuff.
But what do I mean by electronic stuff? Well, let me define two general groups of electronics staff. We’ve got inputs, and those would be electronic devices that gather information. And outputs, those would be electronic devices that do things.
Path to Arduino – Inputs and Outputs
So for inputs, you can kind of think of all the types of sensors out there. Like temperature sensors, light sensors, touch sensors, flex sensors, humidity sensors, infrared sensors, distance sensors, all these types of sensors. So, you can think of those sensors as input devices, and those types of sensors can be read by this board.
Now outputs would be things like DC motors, stepper motors, servo motors, solenoids, LCD displays, LED indicator lights, speakers, and electrical stuff that have some type of action in the world. We can coordinate them as we can read inputs from sensors, process them by applying a logic and control outputs. For example, we can read the ambient light by using a photodiode or LDR, and turn ON the light if the ambient light is too low. So that’s what Arduino can do.
Components of Arduino
How Arduino work? So when we talk about Arduinos we’re really kind of talking about three things.
First, we have the physical component which is Arduino boards. Now there’s a bunch of different types of boards. So when someone says Arduino board, it could mean a number of different boards. A very popular board is called the Arduino UNO. Now all Arduino boards share one thing in common, and that is that they all have a microcontroller on them. And a microcontroller is basically a really small computer.
When you learn to use Arduino, you’re learning to use a microcontroller. And the microcontroller is what enables you to read those different inputs and control those different outputs. When someone says Arduino board, they’re talking about something physical, it looks like this, it’s a printed circuit board, and it’s got some electrical components on it.
But it is more than just hardware, it’s also software. There’s this thing called the Arduino IDE. What is Arduino IDE? IDE stands for “integrated development environment”. And this is a software application that you download onto your computer, and then you use it to program the Arduino boards. Now it’s completely free software, and it’s pretty easy to use. It looks a lot like a text editor. The Arduino IDE is where you write your code that actually gets loaded onto the Arduino board itself.
How to install Arduino IDE?
The first step in getting started with your Arduino project is to install the IDE (Integration development environment) which is a software that will let you write code and upload them into your Arduino board. You can find the free download link in the official Arduino website. Don’t worry, they have versions for Mac, Windows, and Linux.
After you get the proper IDE installed in your computer, plug your Arduino board to your computer via a USB cable. Sure enough, your IDE will automatically recognize the USB port to which you connected your Arduino board. Just go ahead to Tools > Board and choose the Arduino board you’ve currently plugged in.
That’s all you need to get started with the coding on your Arduino. You now have an interface where you can write code and upload them to your board. The IDE also comes with several examples for you to try out. Go to File > Examples to get the complete list of examples using the standard Arduino library. You’re all set now, so let’s check out some of the common output devices you can connect to your Arduino board.
The third part of this Arduino trifecta is the code. The code that you write inside the Arduino IDE, is what ultimately gets loaded onto the microcontroller that’s on these Arduino boards. And the Arduino code that you write is called a sketch.
Now the Arduino code itself is basically C and C++ programming language, but with some specific functions and structure. If you program Arduino, you’re basically gonna be programming in C, C++ programming languages.
So, What is Arduino?
It’s three things. There’s the physical hardware that uses a microcontroller, there’s the Arduino development environment called the Arduino IDE, and then there’s the code itself and that’s called an Arduino Sketch, and it gets loaded onto the Arduino board. Those are the three components that basically makeup what “Arduino” is, and kind of roughly what it does.
Is Arduino Easy to Learn?
One of the most commonly asked questions we hear is “is Arduino easy to learn?”. Well here’s the deal. Recall that I said the key component of an Arduino board is the microcontroller. Now traditionally, microcontrollers are pretty complicated to use. The user manual for one is easily over 300 pages long, and it’s filled with tons of technical jargon.
But what the creators did, was make using microcontrollers as easy as possible. So instead of just electrical engineers and computer scientists using microcontrollers, now pretty much anybody can get their hands dirty on them, and start building stuff. Let’s see what are factors that make Arduino easy to learn.
Is Arduino good for Beginners?
Of course. Arduino is good for beginners for people who are getting started with DIY projects and Robotics. Why is Arduino good for Beginners? Let’s go back to that trifecta.
1. Arduino Board
First, the Arduino board itself is designed for ease of use. You can connect it to your computer with a simple USB cable, not like some specialized cable that it would normally take to connect a microcontroller.
Connecting electrical components to the microcontroller is also very easy with an Arduino board. Because they have these plastic holes around the perimeter of the board. They’re called headers, and to connect an electrical component to the microcontroller, you just stick the component inside the holes it’s literally that easy.
Most of the boards also has a built-in external power jack or connectors, so when it’s not hooked up to the computer it can still be powered by a battery pack.
2. Arduino IDE
That’s like the ease of the hardware side, but the Arduino IDE is also designed for ease of use. There’s a lot of integrated development environments out there, but the Arduino IDE is built with simplicity in mind. There’s no like bells and whistles that kind of get in your way, it’s really just a basic window where you type code. And to upload the code that you’ve written in the Arduino IDE, you simply press a button and it uploads.
Finally, the Arduino code itself has functions specifically for things like reading inputs and controlling outputs. If you were to directly program a microcontroller, you’d find yourself constantly referencing the user manual for highly specific information on controlling different things.
int led = 13;
The Arduino language has significantly reduced that complexity by creating simple programming functions for you to use. In addition, there are many Arduino code libraries that you can install and use, and these libraries simplify the use of all different types of components from interacting with different sensors to controlling tons of different outputs.
Arduino hardware is easier, the Arduino IDE is simpler, and the Arduino code itself is much easier to comprehend. And that’s a big part of why it is so popular.
Another reason it is so popular is that there are many people using it which means there’s a lot of examples out there to work with. Also, the Arduino board itself is open-source hardware. That means while there is a company that makes Arduino boards and supports the Arduino IDE, there are also lots of other companies that make compatible boards that can also be programmed in the Arduino IDE. So there’s this huge hardware and code ecosystem for you to work with.
Finally, Arduino hardware is generally pretty inexpensive, and that helps keep it popular as well.
Arduino Tutorial for Beginners – Which Arduino is best for Beginners?
We’re getting close to the end of the Arduino Tutorial for Beginners. How can you tell if the Arduino is the right choice for your project? We have a couple of different rules of thumb, the first of which is mentioned below.
This is how the majority of the ventures go. You have an input and an output, as well as some logic in between the two. So, let’s say you have a temperature sensor, and if the temperature sensor’s reading exceeds a certain threshold, you want to switch on a cooling fan, and that’s your output. We stated that Arduino makes use of a microcontroller, which is similar to a small computer. As a result, if your project requires large input streams, such as video recording or large computations, it is probably not the right fit. Is it possible to use an Arduino for these kinds of projects? Maybe, but there are technologies that are ideally suited for such tasks.
As you have known already, the Arduino board is the heart of every project. Whatever project it is, it plays a significant role in the functioning of the units. They contain programs that allow them to perform complex functions.
Now, lets ask the question one more time here – Which Arduino is best for Beginners? For beginners, you may see a lot of options out there that could easily confuse you. It’s always best to start from the very basic – Arduino Uno or Mega.
The Arduino Uno has a ATmega328P microcontroller whereas the Arduino Mega has an ATmega2560 microcontroller. Both of them have their CPUs clocked at 16Mhz. Considering SRAM, the Uno has 2ko of SRAM and Mega has 8ko.
The main difference between the boards is in the number of input/output pins that they offer. While your Arduino Uno has a 14/6 input/output pins, Mega provides 54/15 pins making it a preferred choice for bigger projects, as you can add in more hardware to the board.
There are even more Arduino boards that you could use based on the complexity of your project. It’s advisable to go for an Arduino Uno for starters, Mega for a little more advanced use cases, Arduino Nano for smaller board applications, Arduino Yun for ethernet connectivity, and Arduino Due for advanced calculations.
Check out the boards with various uses to find the best one for your project. Let’s find out Which Arduino is best for Beginners?
Arduino Projects for Beginners
As you guys know, Arduino is an open-source platform with easily programmable microcontroller boards combining the power of strong microcontrollers and user-friendly IDEs which can be used to write and upload programs, which runs on your computers. Due to its less price and less power consumption, it is effectively used in various industries, robotics, and home automation projects.
Here is a list of the Arduino Projects for Beginners, implementing newer sensors and boards, which can be followed easily and are really interesting to implement. Even if you are a beginner and just started learning Arduino-based projects, following these tutorials will be easy.