What is an Arduino?

Contributors: b_e_n
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Arduino is an open-source platform used for building electronics projects. Arduino consists of both a physical programmable circuit board (often referred to as a microcontroller) and a piece of software, or IDE (Integrated Development Environment) that runs on your computer, used to write and upload computer code to the physical board.

The Arduino platform has become quite popular with people just starting out with electronics, and for good reason. Unlike most previous programmable circuit boards, the Arduino does not need a separate piece of hardware (called a programmer) in order to load new code onto the board – you can simply use a USB cable. Additionally, the Arduino IDE uses a simplified version of C++, making it easier to learn to program. Finally, Arduino provides a standard form factor that breaks out the functions of the micro-controller into a more accessible package.

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This is an Arduino Uno

The Uno is one of the more popular boards in the Arduino family and a great choice for beginners. We’ll talk about what’s on it and what it can do later in the tutorial.

Arduino Uno

This is a screenshot of the Arduino IDE.

Believe it or not, those 10 lines of code are all you need to blink the on-board LED on your Arduino. The code might not make perfect sense right now, but, after reading this tutorial and the many more Arduino tutorials waiting for you on our site, we’ll get you up to speed in no time!

You Will Learn

In this tutorial, we’ll go over the following:

  • What projects can be accomplished using an Arduino
  • What is on the typical Arduino board and why
  • The different varieties of Arduino boards
  • Some useful widgets to use with your Arduino

Suggested Reading

Arduino is a great tool for people of all skill levels. However, you will have a much better time learning along side your Arduino if you understand some basic fundamental electronics beforehand. We recommend that you have at least a decent understanding of these concepts before you dive in to the wonderful world of Arduino.