So you just got an Arduino! They’re definitely a lot of fun, but what’s next? Where do you start? Well, to do anything useful with it, you’re going to need to upload some code to it. To do that, you’ll first need to install the Arduino IDE (Integrated Development Environment) on another computer. The IDE compiles (converts) the code you write into instructions the Arduino can understand. The code is typed (or copy/pasted) into the IDE, and sent to the Arduino via a USB cable.
The Arduino IDE software is free to download, and installing it is really easy. Just follow the instructions below and you’ll be writing code and getting your Arduino up and running in no time.
Installing the Arduino IDE
1. Visit http://www.arduino.cc/en/main/software to download the latest Arduino IDE version for your computer’s operating system. There are versions for Windows, Mac, and Linux systems. At the download page, click on the “Windows Installer” option for the easiest installation.
2. Save the .exe file to your hard drive.
3. Open the .exe file.
4. Click the button to agree to the licensing agreement:
5. Decide which components to install, then click “Next”:
6. Select which folder to install the program to, then click “Install”:
7. Wait for the program to finish installing, then click “Close”:
8. Now find the Arduino shortcut on your Desktop and click on it. The IDE will open up and you’ll see the code editor:
Configuring the Arduino IDE
The next thing to do is to make sure the software is set up for your particular Arduino board. Go to the “Tools” drop-down menu, and find “Board”. Another menu will appear, where you can select from a list of Arduino models. I have the Arduino Uno R3, so I chose “Arduino Uno”.
Exploring the Arduino IDE
If you want, take a minute to browse through the different menus in the IDE. There is a good variety of example programs that come with the IDE in the “Examples” menu. These will help you get started with your Arduino right away without having to do lots of research:
Experimenting With the Arduino
Play around with the example programs and try changing parts of the code to see what happens. But if you want to learn programming as a skill, it’s best not to rely too much on these examples in your projects. You’ll learn much more by experimenting and writing your own code from scratch. A good way to learn programming is to get a book and work through the example projects. A great book for both beginning and advanced Arduino users is the Arduino Cookbook by Micheal Margolis. It is a handy resource, and covers almost everything you can do with the Arduino from a programming perspective.
When you’re ready, check out the next article in this series, Getting Started with the Arduino – Controlling the LED (Part 1), to see how to use the Arduino to change the blinking rate of an LED.
Hopefully this article has helped you out! Leave a comment below if you have any questions, or need help setting it up. And be sure to subscribe to get an email when we publish new articles!