Step 1: Get Yourself an Arduino
Here is a link to the board: ArduinoBoard.
Here is a link to the cable: USB Cable.
Shopping online is fun, and it gets better when your toys come in the mail.
Step 2: Where Does the Cable Go? Here Is the a Side and Its Home
Step 3: And Here Is the B Side of the Cable
Step 4: Powering Your Board
Step 5: External Power Using a Wall Wart
Step 6: You Can Add the Optional Prototype Board
This prototype board is by no means necessary but it does add utility to your Arduino. You can get a prototype shield here: Protoshield. You can get the prototyping breadboard to mount to it here: Breadboard.
Step 7: Protoshield & Prototype Board on Top of Your Arduino
Step 8: What to Do With a Prototype Board? Look at This.
Here is a link to a a wiki on prototype boards. You will see many circuits loaded on breadboards: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breadboard. Your circuits can be very simple or complex -you decide!
Step 9: There Are Pins & Connectors on Your Arduino Too.
Step 10: Next Lets Talk About the Software
The picture shows a basic program to blink an LED (light emitting diode). All you need is one LED and it is attached to the pins as noted in the link above. The program is included with the software (along with so much more). Follow the instructions and soon you will have brought your board to life!
Is your board is blinking after you have completed the instructions? Yes? Well you are, in my humble opinion, a GEEK like me. Congratulations!
Step 11: So What Is Physical Computing?
Sure you can build a wild robot with the Arduino as Landon Cox has done: Landon Cox's Bot. But you can also wire sensors, LED's servos, displays and make art, express yourself, interpret our own physical inputs, or create a masterful adaptive device to help the disabled.
Tom Igoe is much more eloquent at describing Physical Computing: Tom Igoe.
Be creative, experiment, explore, solve a problem, and have fun doing it!
Step 12: Whats Next?
Some of the things you will easily learn to do are:
Read a tilt sensor, use a joystick to control lights, detect sounds, play melodies, drive motors, interface to LCD displays, read a digital compass, read a gps device, etc.
Based on all my links, do you see how easy this is to acquire information? The Arduino site is loaded with information, and there is a forum to ask questions, learn what others are doing and get support: Forum. It doesn't get any better than this!
Ok - if you have actually read all that I have submitted here you are now entitled to print this card below and carry it around. Better yet, get an Arduino and create! Don't forget, whatever you make - its all good, and its fun!