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Arduino is an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. You typically use an Arduino microcontroller board in one of two ways:

  1. You can plug the board into a desktop computer and upload a computer program (or script). Once the board is programmed you can then embed it in your own projects and power the board using a standard AC adaptor, or,
  2. You can keep the board plugged into the desktop computer and transfer messages (data) between the board and the computer. In this case you are using the board as an "extension" of your computer to provide a set of digital and analog input or output connections.

In this Instructable we will consider case #2, using the Standard Firmata library. Firmata is a protocol (set of rules) for communicating with microcontrollers from software on a computer, smartphone, or tablet. Standard Firmata is a software library that allows Arduino devices to communicate with your computer using the Firmata protocol.

There are numerous software packages that make use of Standard Firmata, including Processing, Python pyFirmata, HyperStudio, HyperDuino, and many others.

In the following steps we'll show how to download, install, and test the Standard Firmata library on an Arduino Uno device plugged into a computer running Mac OS X 10.10.3. These steps should work on any Arduino-compatible device including the Arduino Pro Mini or the LilyPad. The steps should also work on either Microsoft Windows or Linux with only minor modifications.

Step 1: Download and Install the Arduino Application

Your first step should be to download the Arduino application from http://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/Software. Be sure to choose the latest version and also the correct download for your computer and operating system.

Once the software has downloaded, you can install the application using the method appropriate for your system.

  • For Mac OS X you will be downloading a ZIP file. Double-clicking on the ZIP should produce a single "Arduino" application file which you can then copy into your Applications folder.
  • For Windows, you should download the .EXE containing a full Windows installer. Double clicking on the .EXE should start the installation.
  • For Linux you will download a compressed TAR file. You can use the "tar" command to uncompress and unpack the application.

After installation, start the Arduino application. After the splash screen appears, the application should open up with a default program, called a "sketch", in the text editor. This is usually the "Blink" sketch.

<p>I have made a tutorial video on how to install Snap4Arduino on the Chrome browser and Firmata on Arduino based proto board (Robbo Lab, http://robbo.world) and how to use them together. You can watch the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTz2jyOZpS0</p>
<p>Great tutorial, thank you!</p>
Thanks so much! Let me know if you have any suggestions, or other Instructables you'd like to see.

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