Introduction: Welcome to Arduino

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The following information is a single lesson in a larger project. Find more great projects here.

Project Overview:

In this introduction to the Arduino Basic Kit projects, you will learn about the Arduino platform, how to set up your kit, and how to interact with the circuit simulator. These are the tools you need to create successful Arduino projects!

Step 1: Become Extraordinary!

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Everyone, every day, uses technology. Most of us leave the programming to engineers because we think coding and electronics are complicated and difficult; but they can actually be fun and exciting activities. Thanks to Arduino, designers, artists, hobbyists and students of all ages are learning to create things that light up, move, and respond to people, animals, plants, and the rest of the world.

Over the years Arduino has been used as the “brain” in thousands of creative projects. A worldwide community of makers has gathered around this open-source platform, moving from personal computing to personal fabrication, and contributing to a new world of participation, cooperation and sharing.

Arduino is open and simple. It’s founded on lessons we’ve learned teaching our own classes: if you start with the assumption that making digital technologies is simple and accessible, you can learn how to do it, too! Suddenly electronics and code become creative tools that anyone can use, like brushes and paint. The Arduino Basic Kit walks you through the fundamentals in a hands-on way, with creative projects you build by learning. Once you’ve mastered the basics, you’ll have a palette of software and circuits that you can use to create something beautiful, and make someone smile with what you invent.

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Step 2: The Arduino Platform

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Arduino makes it easy to program tiny computers called microcontrollers, which are the chips that make objects interactive.

You are surrounded by dozens of them every day: they are embedded in timers, thermostats, toys, remote controls, microwave ovens, and even some toothbrushes. They do one specific task, and if you hardly notice them – which is often the case – it’s because they are doing it well. They have been programmed to sense and control activity using sensors and actuators.

  1. Sensors listen to the physical world. They convert energy that you give off when you press buttons, or wave your arms, or shout, into electrical signals. Buttons and knobs are sensors that you touch with your fingers, but there are many other kinds of sensors.
  2. Actuators take action in the physical world. They convert electrical energy back into physical energy, like light and heat and movement.
  3. Microcontrollers listen to sensors and talk to actuators. They decide what to do based on a program that you write.
  4. Take a look at the project to the right of this panel. Click on the Start Simulation button and give the knob a turn. The motor turns with it! The Arduino is collecting information from knob (called a potentiometer) and translating it into motion in the motor. This is a project that you will actually learn how to build with the Arduino Basic Kit. It's called the Mood Cue.
  5. Can you think of some more examples of sensors and actuators? (see hint.)
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  7. Stuck? HINT: Sensors: thermometer, light detector... Actuators: motor, speaker, light bulb...

Step 3: Your Projects

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Microcontrollers and the electronics you attach to them are just the skeleton of your projects. You’ll need to apply skills you probably already have to put some flesh on the bones!

In our example project, the Mood Cue, you’ll make an arrow and attach it to the motor, and put them both in a box with a knob, so you can make a meter to tell people whether you’re busy or not. In another, you’ll put some lights and a tilt switch on a cardboard frame to make an hourglass.

Arduino can make your projects responsive, but only you can make them beautiful. We’ll provide some suggestions along the way as to how you might do that!

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Step 4: More Resources

Arduino was designed to help you get things done. To make that happen, the Basic Kit projects keep the background material on programming and electronics to a minimum.

If you decide you want to know more about these topics, there are lots of good guides available. We’ll provide a couple of references, and you can find more online at: arduino.cc/starterkit

  1. Continue to the next lesson to learn about the parts in your kit!

Next Lesson:Parts in the Kit

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