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All about arduinos!

Arduinos make good friends


This wiki is here to provide instruction and reference for an introductory arduino seminar aimed at folks in the life sciences who may not have a lot (or any) programming experience but are interested in trying out arduino microcontrollers. Further down on this page is some recommended hardware to bring to the seminar. While you are welcome to attend without your own arduino (and while we will have one or two extra) you will get the most out of the class by having one to use at the time and play around with for years to come!

Location and Time

The class has already happened, it was on May 15th, 2009 from noon to 2pm in Kincaid 474, the Bergstrom Lab. We were available from 10:30 am that day for a pre-class assembly party for the prototyping accessory listed below (soldering irons provided).


The slides used in the class are available here as a PDF.

This page contains:

Tutorial sections

These are the documented sketches used in the class, feel free to give them a look-see.

Hardware for the class

Prior to attending the seminar, it would be useful to acquire an arduino and a little bit of supporting hardware. While not required, it will make things a whole lot more interesting to be able to follow along with the tutorials on your own laptop/arduino.

All hardware for the class is sourced from SparkFun, which is an excellent supplier of hardware targeted at the hobbyist. Going forward, another great source to be aware of is AdaFruit Industries. In particular, AdaFruit offers the arduino starter-kit which is out of stock at the moment but a good option at other times.

Arduino USB board - $29.95
The latest and greatest version of the microcontroller system that this tutorial is centered around
Arduino prototyping shield - $16.95
A circuit board that sits on top of the arduino and lets you build temporary or permanent circuits with greater ease. This comes as an unsoldered kit. There are instructions on how to assemble it here. We will be hosting an assembly party for these before the class, so you can still get one if you are a hesitant solderer. Also, if you are looking to save money this is the one thing you could omit, but I would counsel against it as they really are terribly useful.
Green, blue, black, or red mini-breadboard - $3.95
This breadboard sticks to the top of the proto-shield listed above and means you don't have to break out the solder to test a circuit.
Buzzer/speaker - $1.95
This little bleep-blooping buzzer will be what we produce most of our output through.
Trimpot, light sensor, or totally awesome flex sensor - $0.95 to $12.95
You will use which-ever of these you get as a sensor from which you can read a voltage to try out arduino-based data acquisition.
USB A to B - $3.95
Buy this if you don't have an extra sitting around. This is the same type of cable used to hook up most printers and scanners.

If you get everything listed above, opting to buy the USB cable and the cheapest of the three sensor options (the trimpot), the total including shipping to Seattle will be a hair under $62. Omitting the USB cable and proto-shield (not-recommended) can bring this down to just over $40, including shipping.

Software for the class

To program arduinos, you will need a copy of the arduino IDE. It is very easy to install this on Windows and OS X, Linux users sometimes have a bit more trouble. Here are installation guides for Windows, OS X, and Linux.

Advanced Project Notes

Here are some more advanced projects that Armin, Dave, and other folks have done.

Our Own

Outside projects

Useful References

These links are often of use!

About this Wiki

This wiki and the associated code are hosted by as a mercurial repository. Mercurial is a distributed version control system, a means of keeping track of changes to computer code which is used by both Dave and Armin to manage their arduino projects.

The wiki uses the Creole syntax and highlights code snippits with the Pygments library.