SIK Experiment Guide for Arduino - V3.3

This Tutorial is Retired!

Please note that this tutorial is for the SparkFun Inventor's Kit version 3.3. If you have SIK version 4.0, check out the latest tutorial. Do you have the old v3.3 kit and want to upgrade to v4.0? Try getting the SIK bridge pack !

View the updated tutorial: SparkFun Inventor's Kit Experiment Guide - v4.0

Contributors: HelloTechie, Toni_K
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Experiment 1: Blinking an LED


LEDs are small, powerful lights that are used in many different applications. To start off, we will work on blinking an LED, the Hello World of microcontrollers. That's right - it's as simple as turning a light on and off. It might not seem like much, but establishing this important baseline will give you a solid foundation as we work toward more complex experiments.

Parts Needed

You will need the following parts:

Suggested Reading

Before continuing on with this experiment, we recommend you be familiar with the concepts in the following tutorial:

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.

**Please note: Pay close attention to the LED. The negative side of the LED is the short leg, marked with a flat edge. **

LED drawing

Components like resistors need to have their legs bent into 90° angles in order to correctly fit the breadboard sockets. You can also cut the legs shorter to make them easier to work with on the breadboard.

Bent resistor

Fritzing Diagram for RedBoard

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

Fritzing Diagram for Arduino

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

Open Your First Sketch

Open Up the Arduino IDE software on your computer. Coding in the Arduino language will control your circuit. Open the code for Circuit 1 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 > SIK_circuit01_blink

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Click the picture above for a larger, easier-to-view image

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

/* SparkFun Inventor's Kit
   Example sketch 01 -- BLINKING A LED

 Turn an LED on for one second, off for one second,
 and repeat forever.

 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

void setup()
  pinMode(13, OUTPUT);

void loop()
  digitalWrite(13, HIGH);   // Turn on the LED
  delay(1000);              // Wait for one second
  digitalWrite(13, LOW);    // Turn off the LED  
  delay(1000);              // Wait for one second
 / Try changing the 1000 in the above delay() functions to
 / different numbers and see how it affects the timing. Smaller
 / values will make the loop run faster. (Why?)
 / Other challenges:
 /   * Decrease the delay to 10 ms. Can you still see it blink?
 /         Find the smallest delay that you can still see a blink. What is this frequency?
 /   * Modify the code above to resemble a heartbeat.  

Code to Note

pinMode(13, OUTPUT);

Before you can use one of the Arduino's pins, you need to tell the RedBoard or Arduino Uno R3 whether it is an INPUT or OUTPUT. We use a built-in "function" called pinMode() to do this.

digitalWrite(13, HIGH);

When you're using a pin as an OUTPUT, you can command it to be HIGH (output 5 volts), or LOW (output 0 volts).

What You Should See

You should see your LED blink on and off. If it isn't, 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

Almost all modern flat screen televisions and monitors have LED indicator lights to show they are on or off.

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LED Not Lighting Up?

LEDs will only work in one direction. Try taking it out of your breadboard, turning it 180 degrees, and reinserting it.

Program Not Uploading

This happens sometimes, the most likely cause is a confused serial port, you can change this in Tools > Serial Port >

Still No Success?

A broken circuit is no fun, send us an e-mail and we will get back to you as soon as we can: