Maker Club: Arduino

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Tonight’s Maker Club: Arduino is full, but you’re welcome to stop into the library to use our Arduino Uno for free. Everything in this kit is included. Just ask the friendly staff at the Reference Desk, and bring an ID with you.

What’s an Arduino? It’s a microcontroller board—part of a computer (unlike a Raspberry Pi, which is a fully functioning computer. Some may argue that a microcontroller fits the definition of a computer, but for simplicity’s sake, we’ll define “computer” in the common usage as a desktop or laptop). You’ll need a "real" computer to program the Arduino with the free Arduino IDE—software that lets you type code, then upload it via a USB cable to the Arduino board itself. After that, you won’t need the computer anymore, because as long as the Arduino has a power supply, it can run that code indefinitely. Watch this Make video on the Arduino here!

One of the best introductions and tutorial collections for the Arduino is in the SparkFun Inventor’s Kit Guide, available for free here. It uses SparkFun’s own RedBoard, which works the same way as an Arduino Uno (one of the most popular Arduino models). In fact, it’s essentially the same PDF we have here at the library.

Other great places to start are Arduino.cc, SparkFun, Adafruit, and Lynda.com (access it with your WPPL library card!)

Don’t have an Arduino, but want to try out the code anyway? Program a virtual one by signing up for an account with 123D Circuits. (This example is the simple blinking on-and-off of an LED used in the SparkFun PDF above, this is Project #2 - Potentiometer, and here's Project #3 - RGB LED).

People have used the Arduino to create some fascinating things. Browse the projects (and maybe try some out yourself!) from Instructables, Arduino.cc Playground, Make, Sparkfun, JeremyBlum.com, Adafruit, and ElectroSchematics. (And don’t forget YouTube!)