When you get started in the Arduino world, it’s best to learn how to create a simple project and figure out how to code it. But if you don’t have access to an Arduino, need a faster way to breadboard a circuit, or just want to try something new, 123D Circuits is a great way to get it online.

123D Circuits lets you create and test Arduino virtual circuits, check wiring, debug code, and experiment with different settings. This is a fantastic tool for anyone new to Arduino. or experts who want flexibility in how they prototype and test.

All you need

123D Circuits consists of 4 different sandboxes: there is an electronics lab; PCB Design Center; Circuit Scribe tool; and a MESH creation center. The Electronics Lab will be most helpful for creating an Arduino prototype, and this is what we will be using to create an Arduino project in the very near future.

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Each sandbox has all the tools you need to build a project, like Fritzing, one of our favorite diagramming tools. here on They have tons of different components, different Arduino models, and realistic ways to connect everything. You can even convert your schematic into a circuit diagram that contains all the electronics information you need to recreate the design.

You can also order some of the things you’ll need to build your real life project directly from the site.

123dc store

The Electronics Lab lets you actually test your creations by entering Arduino code and seeing what happens. Let’s take a look at a sample project to see how it works.

Sample Project: Arduino Traffic Light

We are going to create a quick sample project to understand how 123D Circuits works. traffic light traffic light is a great project for beginners, so we will use the system to create one of these.

When you first enter the Electronics Lab, you will see a mockup and nothing else. Let’s change this. Click Components in the top right corner to see a list of things you can add to the sketch. A quick search for «arduino» shows three options, and we’ll add the Arduino UNO R3 by clicking first on the icon and then on the workspace.

arduino-breadboard-123dc

Another quick search for «led» shows us a simple LED; click the icon, then click on the layout to place the LED. Once placed, the dropdown in the upper right corner of the workspace allows you to change the color. We will post one red, one yellow and one green.

arduino-leds-123dc

Now to connect everything. To add a wire, simply click anywhere on the breadboard without clicking on the component first (you can also use the «breadboard» component) and click on the space, either on the breadboard or on the Arduino, where you want the connections to be made; You can change the color just like LEDs; using the drop-down list in the upper right corner of the workspace.

arduino-wire-123dc

To add resistors, select them in the Components panel, then click on the slot you want to connect them to. If you need them to stretch further, you can use wires to connect them.

arduino-resistors-123dc

To select the resistance of each element, you can use the component selection option on the right side of the screen. Once you’ve made your adjustment, the colored bands on the resistor will change color to reflect the resistance (make sure you’ve selected the correct units).

component-properties-123dc

Use the same methods to connect the button from the Arduino diagram. To rotate a resistor, select it, then press R. To bend a wire, simply click somewhere (without a component) where you want the bend to occur.

Arduino-button 123dc

Now click Button Code editor to open the editor. This is similar to using the Arduino IDE; just copy the instructions from the traffic light tutorial in the text field (note: there are some «intentional» bugs in the code that you need to fix — if you want a complete and working example, check it out here).

arduino-code 123dc

After that click Upload & Run and you will have a working virtual Arduino traffic light!

arduino-traffic-123dc

It may take a few minutes to get the hang of the interface, but once you do, adding components and editing code is very intuitive.

What else have people created?

The number of different components available, combined with the flexibility of the platform, means that prototypes around the world have created some really interesting projects. Here are a couple of my favorites.

The NeoPixel clock is a very cool project that uses two round LED boards to simulate clock hands and a small seven-segment display in the middle to indicate AM or PM.

neopixel clock

A slightly less exciting, but potentially more useful scheme you might want to check out is the weather station, which pulls weather data from the OpenWeather API to get the current temperature in San Francisco.

SF weather station

However, not all projects need to be useful. Here is a reflex game where two players face each other and will turn on the LED for the player whose reflexes were faster.

reflex game

123D Circuits provides all kinds of projects, from smart home automation projects. home automation for about games and projects that just play with motors to see what they can do.

Valuable resource

If you’re an Arduino fan, 123D Circuits is a great place to hang out, whether you’re looking to learn the basics or perfect your latest tricky project. By giving you the ability to quickly set up projects, this can save you a lot of time during the prototyping phase. Of course, it won’t replace a real Arduino with wires, electricity, and real components, but if you need to work fast or don’t have access to what you need, this is a great tool.

Have you used an Arduino simulator like 123D Circuits? Your opinion? Will you use this tool in the future, or do you prefer to use a real whiteboard? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

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