Introduction: Introduction to Arduino
Arduino is a company based in Italy, designing and making various microcontrollers. Fortunately, Arduino is open source meaning they release the schematics of their microcontrollers, allowing manufacturers in China to make the same boards and sell them very cheaply.
The Arduino Nano provided in the kit is one of the cheapest and most user friendly Arduino boards available. It is also relatively small, making it ideal for the robotics competition.
To get yourself started with Arduino you will need the Arduino Nano, a Mini USB cable and the Arduino IDE. The IDE is available for free from the Arduino website.(https://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/Software)
Once you have downloaded the IDE, I would suggest opening the blink code. (File -> Examples -> 01.Basics -> Blink) Once this code is opened and the Arduino is connected to the computer, select Tools -> Board -> Arduino Nano w/ Atmega328(or the respective board should you not be using a nano). Once this is completed, select tools -> Serial Port -> and then select the port the Arduino is connected to. If you don't know which port it's connected to, there is no harm in trying multiple ports and if the wrong port is selected, an error message will come up on the bottom of the Arduino IDE saying "avrdude: stk500_getsync(): not in sync: resp=0x00" Once the correct port is selected, the code will upload successfully.
There is an LED connected to pin 13 on the Arduino already so uploading this sketch (code) to the Arduino will make a surface mounted LED to turn on for a second and then off for a second, it will continue to do so until the Arduino is powered down. The TX and RX LEDs will flash while the code is uploading but will stop once the code is uploaded. You can modify the delays in the loop to make the LED turn on and off for different lengths of time. (They are set at 1000 representing 1000ms or 1s)
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Step 1: How a Breadboard Works
A breadboard allows the construction of circuits without solder wires or having a PCB(printed circuit board) made, therefore making experimenting with circuits easy, and making faults in the wiring easily adjustable.
On either side of the breadboard you will see two rows of holes. These rows are connected vertically, meaning that each hole in this row going down is connected . The second vertical row is also all connected. these rails are commonly referred to as power rails. This is because 5V and Ground may be needed for multiple places so instead of connecting to the Arduino's 5V and ground each time, connect the Arduino's 5V and ground to the two different power rails and then connect the power rail to the component. (The image shows how these vertical rows could be connected)
The central holes are all connected horizontally. ( From the image: 1a, 1b, 1c, 1d, 1e are all connected) There is, however, a break in the connection in the middle, (1e and 1f are not connected) which allows us to plug the Arduino straight into the breadboard. Please don't try bend the pins on the Arduino, they should all fit perfectly.