So, you bought yourself an Arduino starter kit. and maybe some other cool cool components of interesting components of interesting components — what now? How do you actually start programming this Arduino thing ? How do you set it up and download some code? Read on and I’ll explain everything.
I’m assuming you have an Arduino Uno board because it comes with most Arduino starter kits.
On a Mac, it’s easy. Just download the latest Arduino package, install it, and then run attached driver FTDIUSBSerial . When it’s done, drag the app to your apps folder. You will need to reboot for the new drivers to work.
When you first connect the Arduino, OSX will tell you that a new interface has been detected. Just click » Network Settings» and press » Apply» — there are no settings here.
Nothing is easier on Windows, especially when it comes to drivers. Start by downloading the latest version and unzipping, keeping the folder structure. It’s a fairly large download — 85MB when I checked, fully expandable to 230MB, so it might take a while to download.
Connect your Arduino using the included USB cable. It may try to find the drivers, but it will not work. Just close the wizard and open Device Manager. The quickest way to do this, instead of trying to navigate through the confusing set of layered menus in the Windows Control Panel, is to simply click the » Start» and enter devmgmt.msc . Press Enter and you will open Device Manager directly.
In chapter » Other devices» you must see Arduino Uno with one of those yellow «problem» signs. Double click, select » Update Drivers» and select » View my computer for driver software».
Select Options » Let me choose a driver» press » All Devices» , «Disk» and go to the download folder. In the drivers folder you should see the file Arduino Uno . Choose it. The driver installation process will recognize it as a «communication port» and will result in an «unsigned driver error» during installation. Ignore this and install anyway.
If you’re using XP, the process is a little more complicated and involves two sets of drivers. Read the full set of instructions on the Arduino page.
Set up the board and port
Launch the Arduino application from the downloads folder or from the applications folder. The first thing we need to do is set up the port and board. On any system, you should have a tool menu. Click on this and make sure:
The corresponding board is selected. Uno is the default and was already selected in my setup, but it’s always good to check.
The serial port is correct. On Windows, I found that I only had one option (see screenshot) and it wasn’t selected, so the choice wasn’t difficult.
On a Mac, the port names are a little more convoluted, but it will basically be one of the two USB ports listed.cu-USB was the right choice on my car, but it may be different for you.
Let’s take a quick look at the toolbar.
From left to right:
— Play symbol : compiles your code to test it without actually uploading it to the Arduino, but pressing the upload button will do that too. — Stop character: this will stop the COMPILE of your program, not stop any running application already loaded into the Arduino. — New file : starts new project code — Up arrow : Open — Loads an existing project. There are hundreds of example programs, but leave that for now. — Arrow to down : Save — Right Arrow : upload current code to Arduino. — Serial Monitor : This allows you to check the communication coming from the Arduino while it is connected to the computer, but don’t worry about it just yet.
Okay, time to launch your first application. Click » Open» and in the dialog select the sample application from 1. Basics -> Blink. You should see the following code:
To make sure the Arduino board is working and properly connected, click the » Download» . After a short compilation of the application on the Arduino, the orange lights with the inscription TX/RX . That means it’s transmitting or receiving something — in this case, the code you’re uploading. When the process is completed, the code will run immediately.
This application is incredibly simple — it will simply «blink» the built-in LED, denoted by the letter L (when the board is connected, the green LED will be on, which just indicates power and does not blink). You can also use your own LED — just insert the longer of the two legs into hole #13, and the shorter leg (the LED should have a flat ledge on that side) into the adjacent GND hole. Both LEDs will now flash together.
It’s as far as we’ll go this time. Now you’ve set up the Arduino and figured out how to upload applications to it, confirming that it works. This is a good start and at this point you can go through the Blink application code and try to figure out what it does and how it does it. Don’t worry if you haven’t figured it out yet, as next time I’ll explain the code in detail and also explain the various bits on the Arduino board.
Thanks for reading, and as always, we welcome comments. If you’re having trouble configuring the board feel free to ask in the comments, but if your question is about an outdated version of Windows or some obscure Linux distro, then I can’t seem to be able to help.