Picture of Beginner Arduino

The Arduino is a pocket-sized computer (also called a "microcontroller") that you can program and use to control circuits. It interacts with the outside word through sensors, leds, motors, speakers... even the internet; this makes it a flexible platform for lots of creative projects. Some popular uses include:

- programmable light displays that respond to music or human interaction
- robots that use information from sensors to navigate or perform other tasks
- unique, customizable controllers and interfaces for music, gaming, and more
- connecting real world objects to the internet (twitter is especially popular)
- anything interactive
- automating and prototyping

There are tons of amazing Arduino Projects posted online, here are some of my favorites:

Twitter Mood Light by RandomMatrix, a light that changes color depending on what kinds of emotional words are trending on Twitter

Nebulophone Synth by Bleep Labs:

Singing Plant by Mads Hobye:

Polargraph Drawing Machine by Sandy Noble:

Flame-Throwing Jack-O-Lantern by Randy Sarafan and Noah Weinstein:

Rain-sensitive light up umbrella by snl017

There are quite a few microcontrollers on the market today, but the Arduino stands apart from the rest becuase of the active online community around it. If you search on google or youtube, you will find tons of great project ideas and information to get you started. Even though you might not have any experience programming or working with a microcontroller, the Arduino is simple to get up and running, and it's a fun way to learn about electronics through experimentation.

This Instructable was written for an Intro to Arduino class I'm teaching at Women's Audio Mission this month. I'll be posting Instructables on more advanced Arduino topics and on building customizable MIDI controllers with Arduino in the next few weeks as the class continues. More info about Arduino can be found on the Arduino reference page.

For this class you will need:

(1x) Arduino Uno Amazon or you can pick one up at a local Radioshack
(1x) usb cable Amazon
(1x) breadboard Amazon
(1x) jumper wires Amazon
(4x) red LEDs Digikey C503B-RCN-CW0Z0AA1-ND
(4x) 220Ohm resistors Digikey CF14JT220RCT-ND
(1x) 10kOhm resistor Digikey CF14JT10K0CT-ND
(1x) tact button Digikey 450-1650-ND
(1x) 10kOhm potentiometer Digikey PDB181-K420K-103B-ND
(1x) RGB LED (common cathode) Digikey WP154A4SUREQBFZGC

Tips on ordering stuff: Digikey is usually the cheapest place you can get components and they ship really fast, but sometimes it's difficult to find what you're looking for because they have so much stuff. If Digikey gives you too much trouble try Jameco, you'll pay a few cents more per component, but it's a lot easier to navigate their inventory. If you need stuff right away, you can find components, breadboards, cables, and Arduinos at your local Radioshack, but you will usually pay a bit more. Adafruit and Sparkfun are good online store for finding cool sensors or other Arduino accessories and they usually have tutorials and sample code for their more complicated parts. Amazon is also a good place to check, right now they have Arduino Unos for $22, which is the cheapest I've ever seen them.

In this Instructable I'll be using 123D circuits to demonstrate and simulate the circuits, the embedded circuit simulations work best with the Chrome browser.

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cgermanb1 month ago
excelente! from argentine!
saattvik241 month ago
I also ordered an arduino uno rev3 from amazon
sahibaa2 months ago


when button was pressed it randomly sent pressed and unpressed irrespective the button was pressed or not ..can you tell me why it was so ?? as i did re-check my connections still it was happeneing.

trichards737 months ago

I am a complete noob to Arduino and look forward to doing my first projects with my 10 year old daughter. I was able to order my Uno rev3 from eBay for $13. I can't wait for it to arrive.

amandaghassaei (author)  trichards737 months ago
zomfibame10 months ago

thanks for making n' posting this Instructable. I've been wanting to play with Arduinos but being that I've got no education in this field I feel a bit out'a my league... this Instructable is very helpful.

amandaghassaei (author)  zomfibame8 months ago

you got it! This is another great post to get you up to speed on electronics:

recwap10 months ago

nice job!, I love Arduino :), You can do interesting thinks using it. Now I am working on a wheatear station accessed over the internet.

My first arduino (atmega328p) project was this DSRL controller:

amandaghassaei (author)  recwap8 months ago

looks great

I'll be spending more time with this later. For now I'll just say that this looks like just what I need to get started with an arduino.

I do have experience with breadboarding, and I would like to add a bit of advice for those that are new to it. Not all boards are labeled for positive and negative. To help keep it straight, it is a good idea to "label" the power lines with short pieces of red and black wire so you have an easy visual cue as to their polarity. The first time you let the smoke out of the wires (the insulation is there to keep the smoke inside) is something you won't forget.

amandaghassaei (author)  mid_life_crisis8 months ago

that's a great tip, thanks!

u204178 months ago


Incredible instructable! I worked in computer technology for 32 years before retiring. About 15 of that programming or managing programming teams. Have taken dozens of expensive technical classes. By far your instuctable out shined all of them.

Your attention to detail and clarity of explanation are some of the best I have ever come across. You have real talent. I look forward to getting an Arduino board and getting started. Which is saying something since I was so burned out when I retired I thought I would never be interested in technology again.

Thank you, and keep up the great work!

amandaghassaei (author)  u204178 months ago

thanks for the comment, that's so nice to hear! Definitely keep going with Arduino, it's such a fun tool to work with and the possibilities are limitless!

Liamthe1st8 months ago
Just what I have been looking for is there a PDF?
amandaghassaei (author)  Liamthe1st8 months ago

there's a button at the top of the page for pdf

Thanks very much I got it now whereas it was not showing before.
May I say what a great tutorial you have done.
I will look forward to all of your posts.& Instructables.
amandaghassaei (author)  Liamthe1st8 months ago

great to hear!

bricobart8 months ago

Finally someone who explains it so that even bushmen like me can understand! Useful, well explained & documented and whatever adjectives more to make it a great tutorial, THANX!

FoamboardRC8 months ago

Very awesome beginner turorial! I will make sure to point my newbie friends to this. . . :)

AMR_KELEG9 months ago

Can't i use only one resistor from GND to all other LEDs??
Thanks :D

amandaghassaei (author)  AMR_KELEG9 months ago

the amount of resistance you will want depends on the number of leds you are powering at once. If you use one resistor with all the leds, they will be much dimmer when you power all four at once.

fazmi29 months ago
i have study this stuft . nice :)
funglestrumpet10 months ago


adryan88sb10 months ago

Nice work ! Can you help me please to programming a STM 32f4 discovery? I want to make a domino clock with this. I want to use STM 32f4 discovery kit + shift register 74HC595 + ULN 2003 and 12 leds (5mm 3,3 V; 20 mA ; TOTAL = 504 leds ) for each point. I wait a good answer . Tank you very much!!!

domino clock.JPG
nuse011110 months ago
nice tutorial. any tutorial for LPC2138??
jott_110 months ago

Interesting comment on Digikey vs. Jameco. It's been my experience that Jameco is cheaper and faster delivery(to Indiana) than Digikey. Shipping has been cheaper for me too.

jsd194810 months ago

Wonderful. I have been wanting a basic Arduino tutorial to get me started. Thanks so much!

shed-head10 months ago
truly amazing, been looking for a easy way in to arduino for so long and this is such a perfect starting point I will be heading out to buy my first one tomorrow
amandaghassaei (author)  shed-head10 months ago

great to hear!

julianakrhcp10 months ago

Good work, really nice. I couldn't find anything that helpful, thank you for posting it!

J-Wolf10 months ago

Very nice especially the info on sketches. Thanks a lot.

stmous10 months ago
The best tutorial I've found. Thanks.
kollocc10 months ago
good job!
ninjanody10 months ago

Supperb Instructable. Very usefull for intermediate users not only for noobs..

bebeleme10 months ago

Nice tutorial.Thank you :)

jitoh10 months ago
Its about time some one put something up to help people get into arduino. Thank you.
biloute11 months ago

Excellent ! Now, I want to buy an Arduino Uno :D