Experiment Guide for the SparkFun Tinker Kit
This Tutorial is Retired!
This tutorial covers concepts or technologies that are no longer current. It's still here for you to read and enjoy, but may not be as useful as our newest tutorials.
View the updated tutorial: Activity Guide for SparkFun Tinker Kit
Introduction to the Arduino IDE
Before you plug the RedBoard into your computer, you'll need to install Arduino.
To begin, head over to Arduino's download page and grab the most recent, stable release of Arduino. Make sure you grab the version that matches your operating system.
The installation procedure is fairly straightforward, but it varies by OS. Here are some tips to help you along. We've also written a separate Installing Arduino tutorial if you get really stuck.
Windows Install Tips
The Windows version of Arduino is offered in two options: an installer or a zip file. The installer is the easier of the two options; just download that, and run the executable file to begin installation. If you're prompted to install a driver during installation, select "Don't Install" (the RedBoard doesn't use the same drivers). Don't forget which directory it installs to (defaults to "Program Files/Arduino").
If, instead, you choose to download the zip file version of Arduino, you'll need to extract the files yourself. Don't forget which folder you extract the files into! We'll need to reference that directory when we install drivers.
Mac Install Tips
The Mac download of Arduino is only offered in a zip file version. After the download is finished, simply double-click the .zip file to unzip it.
Following that, you'll need to copy the Arduino application into your applications folder to complete installation.
Linux Install Tips
As Linux users are no doubt aware, there are many flavors of Linux out there, each with unique installation routines. Check out the Linux section of the Installing Arduino tutorial for some helpful links for an assortment of Linux distributions.
For Ubuntu and Debian users, installing Arduino should be as easy as running a little "apt-get" magic, with a command like:
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install arduino arduino-core
And other Linux distros aren't too dissimilar from that.
With Arduino downloaded and installed, the next step is to plug the RedBoard in and install some drivers! Pretty soon you'll be blinking LEDs, reading buttons, and doing some physical computing!