SIK Experiment Guide for Arduino - V3.2

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This tutorial covers concepts or technologies that are no longer current.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: SIK Experiment Guide for Arduino - V3.3

Contributors: HelloTechie
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Experiment 5: Push Buttons


Up until now, we’ve focused mostly on outputs. Now we’re going to go to the other end of spectrum and play around with inputs. In experiment 2, we used an analog input to read the potentiometer. In this circuit, we’ll be reading in one of the most common and simple inputs – a push button – by using a digital input. The way a push button works with your RedBoard or Arduino Uno R3 is that when the button is pushed, the voltage goes LOW. Your RedBoard or Arduino Uno R3 reads this and reacts accordingly.

In this circuit, you will also use a pull-up resistor, which keeps the voltage HIGH when you're not pressing the button.

Parts Needed

You will need the following parts:

  • 1x Breadboard
  • 1x RedBoard or Arduino Uno
  • 1x LED
  • 1x 330Ω Resistor
  • 7x Jumper Wires
  • 2x Push Buttons
  • 2x 10k Resistors

Didn't get the SIK?

If you are following through this experiment and didn't get the SIK, we suggest using these parts:

Breadboard - Self-Adhesive (White)

Breadboard - Self-Adhesive (White)

LED - Assorted (20 pack)

LED - Assorted (20 pack)

Tactile Button Assortment

Tactile Button Assortment

Jumper Wires Standard 7" M/M - 30 AWG (30 Pack)

Jumper Wires Standard 7" M/M - 30 AWG (30 Pack)

Resistor 10K Ohm 1/6th Watt PTH - 20 pack

Resistor 10K Ohm 1/6th Watt PTH - 20 pack


Resistor 330 Ohm 1/6 Watt PTH - 20 pack

2 Retired

You will also need either a RedBoard or Arduino Uno R3.

Arduino Uno - R3 SMD

Arduino Uno - R3 SMD


SparkFun RedBoard - Programmed with Arduino

127 Retired

Suggested Reading

Before continuing on with this tutorial, we recommend you be somewhat familiar with the concepts in these tutorials:

Hardware Hookup

Ready to start hooking everything up? Check out the Fritzing diagram and hookup table below, to see how everything is connected.

Pay special attention to the component’s markings indicating how to place it on the breadboard. Polarized components can only be connected to a circuit in one direction.

Fritzing Diagram for RedBoard

alt text

Having a hard time seeing the circuit? Click on the Fritzing diagram to see a bigger image.

Fritzing Diagram for Arduino

alt text

Having a hard time seeing the circuit? Click on the Fritzing diagram to see a bigger image.

Open the Sketch

Open Up the Arduino IDE software on your computer. Coding in the Arduino language will control your circuit. Open the code for Circuit 5 by accessing the “SIK Guide Code” you downloaded and placed into your “Examples” folder earlier.

To open the code go to: File > examples > SIK Guide Code > Circuit_05

You can also copy and paste the following code into the Arduino IDE. Hit upload, and see what happens!

SparkFun Inventor's Kit 
Example sketch 05


  Use pushbuttons for digital input

  Previously we've used the analog pins for input, now we'll use
  the digital pins for input as well. Because digital pins only
  know about HIGH and LOW signals, they're perfect for interfacing
  to pushbuttons and switches that also only have "on" and "off"

  We'll connect one side of the pushbutton to GND, and the other
  side to a digital pin. When we press down on the pushbutton,
  the pin will be connected to GND, and therefore will be read
  as "LOW" by the Arduino.

  But wait - what happens when you're not pushing the button?
  In this state, the pin is disconnected from everything, which 
  we call "floating". What will the pin read as then, HIGH or LOW?
  It's hard to say, because there's no solid connection to either
  5 Volts or GND. The pin could read as either one.

  To deal with this issue, we'll connect a small (10K, or 10,000 Ohm)
  resistance between the pin and 5 Volts. This "pullup" resistor
  will ensure that when you're NOT pushing the button, the pin will
  still have a weak connection to 5 Volts, and therefore read as

  (Advanced: when you get used to pullup resistors and know when
  they're required, you can activate internal pullup resistors
  on the ATmega processor in the Arduino. See for information.)

Hardware connections:


    Pushbuttons have two contacts that are connected if you're
    pushing the button, and disconnected if you're not.

    The pushbuttons we're using have four pins, but two pairs
    of these are connected together. The easiest way to hook up
    the pushbutton is to connect two wires to any opposite corners.

    Connect any pin on pushbutton 1 to ground (GND).
    Connect the opposite diagonal pin of the pushbutton to
    digital pin 2.

    Connect any pin on pushbutton 2 to ground (GND).
    Connect the opposite diagonal pin of the pushbutton to
    digital pin 3.

    Also connect 10K resistors (brown/black/red) between
    digital pins 2 and 3 and 5 Volts. These are called "pullup"
    resistors. They ensure that the input pin will be either
    5V (unpushed) or GND (pushed), and not somewhere in between.
    (Remember that unlike analog inputs, digital inputs are only
    HIGH or LOW.)


    Most Arduinos, including the Uno, already have an LED
    and resistor connected to pin 13, so you don't need any
    additional circuitry.

    But if you'd like to connect a second LED to pin 13,

    Connect the positive side of your LED to Arduino digital pin 13
    Connect the negative side of your LED to a 330 Ohm resistor
    Connect the other side of the resistor to ground

This sketch was written by SparkFun Electronics,
with lots of help from the Arduino community.
This code is completely free for any use.
Visit for SIK information.
Visit to learn about the Arduino.

Version 2.0 6/2012 MDG

// First we'll set up constants for the pin numbers.
// This will make it easier to follow the code below.

const int button1Pin = 2;  // pushbutton 1 pin
const int button2Pin = 3;  // pushbutton 2 pin
const int ledPin =  13;    // LED pin

void setup()
  // Set up the pushbutton pins to be an input:
  pinMode(button1Pin, INPUT);
  pinMode(button2Pin, INPUT);

  // Set up the LED pin to be an output:
  pinMode(ledPin, OUTPUT);      

void loop()
  int button1State, button2State;  // variables to hold the pushbutton states

  // Since a pushbutton has only two states (pushed or not pushed),
  // we've run them into digital inputs. To read an input, we'll
  // use the digitalRead() function. This function takes one
  // parameter, the pin number, and returns either HIGH (5V)
  // or LOW (GND).

  // Here we'll read the current pushbutton states into
  // two variables:

  button1State = digitalRead(button1Pin);
  button2State = digitalRead(button2Pin);

  // Remember that if the button is being pressed, it will be
  // connected to GND. If the button is not being pressed,
  // the pullup resistor will connect it to 5 Volts.

  // So the state will be LOW when it is being pressed,
  // and HIGH when it is not being pressed.

  // Now we'll use those states to control the LED.
  // Here's what we want to do:

  // "If either button is being pressed, light up the LED"
  // "But, if BOTH buttons are being pressed, DON'T light up the LED"

  // Let's translate that into computer code. The Arduino gives you
  // special logic functions to deal with true/false logic:

  // A == B means "EQUIVALENT". This is true if both sides are the same.
  // A && B means "AND". This is true if both sides are true.
  // A || B means "OR". This is true if either side is true.
  // !A means "NOT". This makes anything after it the opposite (true or false).

  // We can use these operators to translate the above sentences
  // into logic statements (Remember that LOW means the button is
  // being pressed)

  // "If either button is being pressed, light up the LED"
  // becomes:
  // if ((button1State == LOW) || (button2State == LOW)) // light the LED

  // "If BOTH buttons are being pressed, DON'T light up the LED"
  // becomes:
  // if ((button1State == LOW) && (button2State == LOW)) // don't light the LED

  // Now let's use the above functions to combine them into one statement:

  if (((button1State == LOW) || (button2State == LOW))  // if we're pushing button 1 OR button 2
      && !                                               // AND we're NOT
      ((button1State == LOW) && (button2State == LOW))) // pushing button 1 AND button 2
                                                        // then...
    digitalWrite(ledPin, HIGH);  // turn the LED on
    digitalWrite(ledPin, LOW);  // turn the LED off

  // As you can see, logic operators can be combined to make
  // complex decisions!

  // Don't forget that we use = when we're assigning a value,
  // and use == when we're testing a value for equivalence.

Code To Note

pinMode(button2Pin, INPUT);

The digital pins can be used as inputs as well as outputs. Before you do either, you need to tell the Arduino which direction you're going.

button1State = digitalRead(button1Pin);

To read a digital input, you use the digitalRead() function. It will return HIGH if there's 5V present at the pin, or LOW if there's 0V present at the pin.

if (button1State == LOW)

Because we've connected the button to GND, it will read LOW when it's being pressed. Here we're using the "equivalence" operator ("==") to see if the button is being pressed.

What You Should See

You should see the LED turn on if you press either button, and off if you press both buttons. (See the code to find out why!) If it isn't working, make sure you have assembled the circuit correctly and verified and uploaded the code to your board or see the troubleshooting section.

Real World Application

The buttons we used here are similar to the buttons in most video game controllers.


Light Not Turning On

The pushbutton is square, and because of this it is easy to put it in the wrong way. Give it a 90 degree twist and see if it starts working.


No worries, these circuits are all super stripped down to make playing with the components easy, but once you throw them together the sky is the limit.