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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StevenV25 months ago

Arduino is not a microcontroller, but rather a microcontroller-based SBC (Single Board Computer). The microcontroller is the board's AVR. A power supply for instance, like on Arduino, is never part of a microcontroller, which is a single IC.

you are right....

MikeB3320 days ago

I have a question...I am using prewired LED's is that a problem? I assume all I have to do is wire from the apropriate output and then to the ground?

I purchased a kit "Arduino basics, 15 tutorial in 8 categories"
I lost the manual the next day in a train.
I am looking for this manual as it covers all the devices in the kit.
Could someone post a scan of it?
Or could you refer me to where I could found this manual.

nice project

Hi all,

I have purchased a kit "Arduino basics, 15 tutorial in 8 categories"
I lost the manual the next day in a train.
I am looking for this manual as it covers all the devices in the kit.
Could someone post a scan of it?
Or could you refer me to where I could found this manual.

skumar2311 month ago

awesome work and very helpful...thanks i learn my first arduino by you..

ovidiu_seran2 months ago

Thank you for your work, it was helpfull for me.

PaulR142 months ago
duttprasan3 months ago

Well, instead of so much attention Amanda made a mistake.

digitalWrite(ledState, LOW);

It should be-

digitalWrite(ledPin, LOW);

Same for HIGH.

amandaghassaei (author)  duttprasan2 months ago

good catch! I think I fixed it, let me know if there are any more issues. Thanks!

Hey everyone, If you are looking to learn how to program the Arduino, check out this starter shield from Makes it really easy to learn without having to mess with wiring up components on a breadboard.

rwijaya14 months ago
helpfull for me.
nkrishna35 months ago
hi this is an amazing instructable for beginners like me... can you please post an instructable regarding ne 555 timer chip using arduino UNO
sahibaa8 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.

amandaghassaei (author)  sahibaa6 months ago

maybe try changing the orientation of the button? not sure exactly, hope you worked it out!

colbyparsons6 months ago

On the breadboard diagram on this page,the bottom row is labeled red or positive, but on another diagram in this instructable, the bottom row is labeled black, for ground. Since a black wire is leading from the red row, I wondered if there was an error.

amandaghassaei (author)  colbyparsons6 months ago

the black wires are all ground, sorry if that was confusing, you can double check bc they are connected to ground on the Arduino. I'm not sure it was always labelled like that!

anuñez116 months ago

Excellent instructable, I really liked the way you explain everything so clearly. Thank you very much for this. I can not wait for my Arduino and make the examples

cgermanb7 months ago
excelente! from argentine!
Arduino Tech8 months ago
I also ordered an arduino uno rev3 from amazon

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)  trichards731 year ago
zomfibame1 year 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)  zomfibame1 year ago

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

recwap1 year 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)  recwap1 year 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.

that's a great tip, thanks!

u204171 year 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)  u204171 year 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!

Liamthe1st1 year ago
Just what I have been looking for is there a PDF?
amandaghassaei (author)  Liamthe1st1 year 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)  Liamthe1st1 year ago

great to hear!

bricobart1 year 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!

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

AMR_KELEG1 year ago

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

amandaghassaei (author)  AMR_KELEG1 year 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.

fazmi21 year ago
i have study this stuft . nice :)
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