Arduino Tutorial for Beginners

Created on: 4 January 2022

Arduino tutorial for beginners in electronics. How to get started with Arduino. Build circuits on solderless breadboard. Program an Arduino board. Learn the basics about the Arduino electronics platform using an Arduino Uno or compatible board. Alternately, use an Arduino MEGA 2560 board. This first part of the tutorial is an introduction to Arduino. It explains tools and components used in the tutorial parts that follow.

Part 1 of the Arduino Tutorial for Beginners

Arduino Uno connected to a simple LED circuit used in this Arduino tutorial for beginners
Start with the Simplest Arduino Circuit in this Arduino Tutorial for Beginners

The above image shows the simplest circuit connected to an Arduino Uno board. It is a single LED (Light Emitting Diode) and resistor circuit. A program loaded to the Arduino Uno board from a computer via the USB port flashes or blinks the LED. This Arduino tutorial for beginners starts using very simple circuits to teach basic Arduino and electronics concepts.

What is Arduino?

The official answer to the question “What is Arduino?” on the Arduino website is the following: “Arduino is an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. It’s intended for anyone making interactive projects.”

Arduino Hardware, Software and Community

The above explanation is difficult for new users to understand. However, breaking down the explanation makes it easier to understand. Firstly, Arduino consists of hardware, meaning one of several different microcontroller boards. For example, the Arduino Uno microcontroller board shown in the previous image.

Secondly, Arduino is also software. In particular, Arduino software consists of a software package for programming different Arduino boards. In addition, Arduino has many programming and code examples available for anyone to use. Thirdly, Arduino is the Arduino community. Find the Arduino community on the Arduino forum, and Arduino project hub.

Finally, Arduino is open-source. Open-source means that the original files used to create both the Arduino hardware and software are available to anyone to download. Open-source files are available for examination, modification, adaption or improvement by anyone under the terms of the open-source license.

Using Arduino

Use Arduino in interactive projects, and in general electronics projects. An Arduino project can be as simple as loading a program to an Arduino board that flashes or blinks the on-board LED. Measuring temperature and humidity of air, and displaying the measurements on an LCD or computer using Arduino is another project example. Also control anything from light displays to robots and more with Arduino.

Arduino in this Arduino Tutorial for Beginners

For the purposes of this tutorial, Arduino is the Arduino Uno board and the Arduino programming package called the Arduino IDE. The Arduino IDE runs on different computers and operating systems including Linux, Windows and Mac. Options for this tutorial are to use an official Arduino Uno board. Use a cheaper Arduino Uno compatible board instead, if desired. Alternatively, use an official Arduino MEGA 2560 board or compatible.

An Arduino Uno is smaller and cheaper than an Arduino MEGA 2560. Most users following this tutorial will use an Arduino Uno or compatible board. Use a bigger more expensive Arduino MEGA 2560 board if you already have one, or specifically want to use one.

Official Arduino Boards

Official Arduino boards are quality products. Some of the money paid for official Arduino boards is used to fund the Arduino project. For example to run the forum and for designing new products.

Official Arduino MEGA 2560 and Arduino Uno Boards
Official Arduino MEGA 2560 and Arduino Uno Boards

The above image shows an official Arduino MEGA 2560 on the left. The image shows an official Arduino Uno board on the right. A clear plastic base is supplied with both official boards. Use either of these boards when following this Arduino tutorial for beginners. Alternatively, use a clone or compatible board.

Compatible Arduino Boards

Many different Arduino Uno and Arduino MEGA 2560 clone and compatible boards are available. The image below shows an example of two Arduino compatible boards. On the left is a board that is compatible with the Arduino MEGA 2560, and on the right is a board that is compatible with an Arduino Uno.

Arduino MEGA 2560 and Arduino Uno Compatible Boards
Arduino MEGA 2560 and Arduino Uno Compatible Boards

Either of the above boards works fine with this beginner’s Arduino tutorial. These boards are cheaper alternatives to official Arduino boards.

Arduino Tutorial for Beginners Components

An Arduino board is required to follow this tutorial, as already discussed. A solderless breadboard, jumper wires and electronic components are also needed. Circuits are built on the breadboard and connected to the Arduino board in this Arduino tutorial for beginners. The section that follows discusses the electronic components used.

Arduino Uno or Arduino MEGA 2560 Board

A number of options for purchasing an Arduino board are available. Options for buying an Arduino board are:

Where you buy an Arduino board from depends on where you are located. Consider import duties or taxes and shipping costs. Buy a USB cable in addition to one of the above Arduino boards.

USB Cable for Arduino Uno and MEGA 2560

Arduino Uno and Arduino MEGA 2560 boards connect to a computer via a A-B USB cable (also called a A to B USB cable, or USB printer cable). A USB cable provides power to the Arduino board. It is also used to load programs to the Arduino board.

Solderless Breadboard for Beginner’s Arduino Tutorial

Get a half-size 400 tie point solderless breadboard. For example, the image below shows a half-size breadboard used in this tutorial. Each hole in the breadboard is called a tie point. Therefore the breadboard in the image has 400 holes. Use a bigger breadboard if you already own one. Find out more about breadboards in the breadboards for beginners article. This article is part of a course that is an introduction to electronics.

Half-size 400 Tie Point Solderless Breadboard used in this Beginner's Arduino Tutorial
Half-size 400 Tie Point Solderless Breadboard used in this Beginner’s Arduino Tutorial

Jumper Wires for Breadboard Circuits

Get jumper wires and links for building breadboard circuits. Single strand wires and Dupont wires are used to connect electronic components together. The following image shows Dupont wires with a pin on each end at the top of the image. These are male-to-male Dupont wires. Use them to connect a breadboard circuit to an Arduino.

Below the male-to-male Dupont wires are male-to-female Dupont wires. Male-to-female Dupont wires have a pin on one end and a socket on the other. These wires connect some components to a breadboard circuit, or directly to an Arduino. The Dupont wires shown in the image are all 10cm long.

Dupont Wires and Single Strand Wires for Building Breadboard Circuits in this Arduino Tutorial for Beginners
Dupont Wires and Single Strand Wires for Building Breadboard Circuits in this Arduino Tutorial for Beginners

Below the Dupont wires are single-strand wires of varying lengths. Generally, single-strand wires connect components to each other on a breadboard. Single-strand wires are available in jumper link kits. In addition, they can be cut from rolls of wire. The breadboards for beginners article explains jumper wires and kits, at the bottom of the page. An assortment of Dupont wires and single-strand jumper wires are used in this Arduino tutorial.

Electronic Components for Arduino Beginners

The table that follows lists a selection of components. This beginner’s Arduino tutorial uses these components in various circuits. Electronic components are available from many online stores and electronic shops.

Buy the following parts as previously discussed.

  1. Arduino Uno, Arduino MEGA 2560, or compatible board.
  2. USB cable type A-B.
  3. Solderless breadboard, 400 tie point.
  4. A selection of Dupont wires and jumper wires.

Buy the following electronic components.

Quantity Part Image Description
1 5k to 10 k Potentiometer Variable resistor potentiometer 5k Variable resistance potentiometer
1 DHT11 DHT11 temperature humidity sensor Temperature and humidity sensor
1 MCP9700 MCP9700 temperature sensor Temperature sensor
1 TDB05LFPN TDB05LFPN 5V Buzzer 5V Buzzer
1 LDR Light Dependent Resistor LDR Light Dependent Resistor
1 RGB LED RGB LED Red/Green/Blue 4 pin LED, 5mm
8 Blue LEDs Blue LED 5mm diffused 5mm diffused blue LEDs
4 Red LEDs Red LED 5mm diffused 5mm diffused red LEDs
4 Green LEDs Green LED 5mm diffused 5mm diffused green LEDs
4 22k 22k 1/4W 5% tolerance resistor 1/4W, 5% tolerance resistors
4 10k 10k resistor, 1/4W, 5% tolerance 1/4W, 5% tolerance resistors
4 4k7 4k7 resistor, 1/4W, 5% tolerance 1/4W, 5% tolerance resistors
8 470Ω 470 Ohm resistor, 1/4W, 5% tolerance 1/4W, 5% tolerance resistors
2 100uF 100uF electrolytic capacitor, 35V Electrolytic capacitors, 25V or more
2 100n 100n X7R capacitor X7R capacitors
2 Switches Push-button switches, momentary Momentary push-button switches
3 2N2222 or KSP2222 2N2222 or KSP2222 NPN transistor NPN Transistors

Recommended Arduino Hardware Manuals

Learn hardware details of Arduino Uno and Arduino MEGA 2560 boards using the recommended books that follow. In short, these books provide lots of useful information on Arduino hardware. Most important, they show how to test new Arduino boards, extend hardware, and connect basic components. These books provide excellent supplementary material for anyone following this tutorial. Buy the book for the board that you are using as follows.

Optional Tools for this Arduino Tutorial

Some optional tools make building breadboard circuits easier. Especially a magnifying glass, side-cutters, long-nose pliers and a multimeter. Read below for more details on each optional tool.

Magnifying Glass

A magnifying glass makes identifying small components easier. Of course the need for a magnifying glass is dependent on eyesight, and may not be needed by everyone. The image below shows an example of a three lens magnifying glass. This is a jewelers type magnifying glass.

Three lens magnifying glass that can be used with this Arduino tutorial for beginners
Three Lens Magnifying Glass that Helps when Identifying Components in this Arduino Tutorial for Beginners

The image below shows a helping-hands magnifier. This is another example of a magnifying device used with electronics. In addition to these examples, there are many other types of magnifiers, some with their own light sources.

Helping-hands Magnifier used in Electronics Work
Helping-hands Magnifier used in Electronics Work

Side-Cutters

Use side-cutters to trim and strip single-strand wire for breadboards. For example, if a breadboard jumper wire breaks, use side cutters to neatly trim the broken end. Afterwards, strip some insulation off the trimmed end using side-cutters, or wire strippers. In addition to this basic use, side-cutters have many other uses in electronics. The image below shows an example of small side-cutters used in electronics work. Side-cutters are optional in this Arduino tutorial for beginners.

Side-cutters Used in Electronics Work are Optional in this Arduino Tutorial for Beginners
Side-cutters Used in Electronics Work are Optional in this Arduino Tutorial for Beginners

Long-nose Pliers or Similar

Bent single-strand wire does not easily fit into a breadboard. In this case, straighten the single-strand wire using long-nose or similar pliers. Use long-nose pliers when wire does not easily plug into a breadboard tie-point or hole. The following image shows an example of small long-nose pliers used in electronics.

Optional Long-nose Pliers for this Arduino Tutorial
Optional Long-nose Pliers for this Arduino Tutorial

Multimeter

Test voltages using a multimeter. For example, test for the presence of 5V on an Arduino board. Components and wires are also tested using a multimeter. However, a multimeter is optional for this Arduino beginner tutorial. The image below shows an example of a multimeter used in electronics.

A Multimeter is an Optional Test Instrument in the Arduino Tutorial for Beginners
A Multimeter is an Optional Test Instrument in the Arduino Tutorial for Beginners

Starting the Arduino Tutorial for Beginners

Get the Arduino board, breadboard, wires, tools and components described above. Then complete each part of the tutorial that follows, in order. Tutorial parts start with setting up Arduino programming software. Then an explanation follows on how to load a first program to an Arduino board. Each following part of the tutorial builds on the previous part. Because this tutorial is for beginners, tutorial parts start from very easy and progress from there.