Arduino – first steps

arduino on base

Arduino bolted to its base

Time to get to grips with some technology!

First job was to set up the arduino and install the software.  The arduino bolted to the baseboard and the software was available from the arduino website.  The arduino connected to my computer via the USB port and I located and uploaded the first sample program, which flashes an LED on and off repeatedly.

I originally tried using a video to help me with my first project, but soon discovered the instructions from the arduino website and the experimenter’s guide were more than enough.

first program

This program turns the LED on and off repeatedly

The program seemed clear, although I haven’t tried writing my own yet – apparently it’s based on C.  It has two required functions, the setup function and the loop function.  The setup part tells the system what inputs and outputs to use, and then the loop function carries out the actual work.

Setting up the breadboard itself was rather fiddly at first, until I got the basic idea.  All the layouts for the starter experiments are included, and it’s a case of cutting one out, pinning it to the board and then pushing the right elements through the right holes.  The breadboard then joins to the arduino and sits neatly next to it on the base.

As soon as all the wires were connected, the red LED in the middle of the breadboard started obediently flashing on and off – a very satisfactory end to my first project, with no troubleshooting required.

flashing light project

This simple layout has a flashing LED

This is the project in action.  I need to clip the wires for the components, as at the moment they’re rather long, but I’ll save that for a day when I feel a little braver, as I feel it’s better at the moment to have them too long than too short.

flashing light layout

This shows the layout of the circuit

Instructions are provided for developing the project by connecting the LED to an analogue output instead, so that instead of on or off you can adjust the brightness of the light, and a program is provided to demonstrate this as well.

This shows a close up view of the circuit, including the breadboard with the printed template.  The LED is connected to pin 13 of the arduino, which corresponds to the code lines

int led = 13;

This all seems very straightforward so far, and I’m looking forward to learning more.

(Click on any image to see a larger version)



About emmyleigh
Writer/editor/proofreader who loves technology

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