This is the preparation day to ensure you have everything you need to get started and know what to expect!
What is Arduino?
First, let’s cover what Arduino is.
Arduino is an ecosystem of hardware and software.
We talk about programming Arduino, but what we usually mean by that is programming in the C/C++ language, with some extra sprinkles to make it more fun, easier, and more applicable to the kinds of jobs the Arduino-compatible hardware is put to.
Yes, programming in Arduino is programming in an industrial strength, professional programming language. That can be both awesome and daunting. Don’t worry, we will keep things simple.
There are many, many Arduino-compatible boards out there, from the official Arduino boards from the organisation with the same name, through to what people often mistakenly call “clones”.
In fact, Arduino boards are intentionally open source hardware. There should be no guilt in buying a cheap board without the official logo. Especially as everyone kills a board at some point. We call it “letting the magic blue smoke out”.
Will be fun to see who destroys a component first. Perhaps even on day one?
Now, of course, if everyone bought the cheaper boards then Arduino as an entity would not be able to keep the lights on. But they do accept donations, and they wouldn’t make it open source if they wanted to be the sole source.
Another premium option is to buy from companies such as Adafruit and Sparkfun. These companies put a lot back into the community in terms of tutorials, code libraries, inventing add-ons, and putting on events.
Adafruit is my favourite company in the space, and I encourage everyone to check them out, especially if you are interested in my follow-on course about Python.
What do I need?
For this course you could actually do most things for free, in a simulated environment, so don’t worry if you haven’t purchased any hardware yet.
You can sign up to Tinkercad and get started right away. Their platform runs right in your browser. It’s pretty amazing.
To get the most out of this course, however, will involve actually building some circuits for real.
Arduino, as already mentioned, sell their own boards and kits. If you want to be 100% sure you are fully compatible, they are the choice, but they are also expensive.
The Official Arduino Uno
We will need the Uno board plus some sensors, motors, wires, and other components, so I would encourage you to get a kit if you can.
- Official Arduino Uno Starter Kit
- Official Arduino Uni Starter Kit at Amazon
- Official Arduino Uno Starter Kit at Amazon without Affiliate Link
- Adafruit Metro Kit
- Sparkfun Inventors Kit
- Crazy Cheap Off-Brand Uno Starter Kit from Elegoo at Amazon
- Crazy Cheap Off-Brand Uno Starter Kit at Gearbest
In some towns you will have an electronics store where they sell them too (possibly at a similar markup to the official kits). I’m told in the US there is a store called Microcenter that sells Arduino stuff.
Get an Arduino Uno
So we are all on the same page we will stick to the default Arduino, the Arduino Uno. It is logically laid out and no-frills. There are smaller, faster, more capable boards covering every niche and possibility, but we will stick to the basics for the next 30 days!
As well as the Arduino itself, as mentioned above, we need some other stuff, at minimum:
- USB cable for the Arduino to connect it to your computer.
- Jumper wires (cables to go from the pins on the board to things like sensors and LEDs).
- Breadboard (plastic board with holes for the wires to go into).
- A small motor.
- A small hobby servo motor.
- LEDs (assorted).
- Small buzzer/piezo speaker.
- Potentiometer (like a volume knob).
- Temperature sensor.
- 220 ohm resistors.
It would be great (but not essential) if you can also have:
- Battery snap or battery box with power and ground wires.
- 16×2 character LCD.
- Cheap 28YBJ-48 stepper motor, plus the ULN2003 driver board.
- L293D motor driver.
- ESP8266 serial wifi module.
- Infrared LED and receiver.
- RGB LED (or even better, Neopixel strip).
- Small relay.
Arduino, Robots and Internet
You should be able to find the ESP8266 modules for under $5 USD
Should I source kits?
I am sourcing parts for kits to run local face to face workshops. Would you be interested in buying a kit directly from me with all the important stuff?
Let me know!
What are we going to do?
Over the next 30 days we will use the Arduino Uno plus assorted bits and pieces to create fun projects that help us explore programming physical things using the Arduino flavour of C/C++!
I will post emails along with other resources, and each day we can share in the various social media venues our progress, questions, and encouragement.
Weekly I will do catch up sessions to allow anyone not following daily to keep up, plus allow anyone to post questions for me to answer.
What should I do next?
- Ensure you at least have a Tinkercad account, but preferably have a physical Arduino on the way.
- Install the Arduino IDE on your computer or sign up for their new cloud version.
- Join the Facebook group, follow me on Instagram and on Twitter, then share the 30 Days to Arduino project with anyone who might be interested, because it is more fun to do this together!
If you want to tweet, let’s use the hashtag #arduino30
Ready to Arduino?
Start with Day One!