Congratulations on your first step toward an IoT hands-on experience. This step by step guide on the basic Arduino setup will help you connect your Arduino kit with your computer. What it effectively means is that you are now in a position to communicate with the kit – write programs to it and make it work according to your instructions.
Buying the Arduino Kit
Arduino kits are available across many global markets. In Mumbai, Lamington Road is the best place to get bargain deals on the Arduino kit. However, if you do not think it is worth spending a few hours to save 100 odd INR for the Arduino kit, you can always purchase it on Amazon. Click here to go to the Amazon site for purchasing Arduino kits.
Always ensure that your Arduino kit comes with an USB cable that allows you to connect the kit to the USB port of the computer. Many times, in shops or online, you may be quoted a price for only the kit. Always remember to purchase the USB cable, without which you will not be able to use the Arduino at all
For this tutorial, there are two sets of pre-requisites:
- Hardware – The Arduino Kit and the USB cable – purchased online or offline
- Software – Download and Install the Arduino IDE from their website (It is free) – https://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/Software
You will always find the latest IDE here. It is an open-source Arduino Software (IDE) that makes it easy to write instructions and push it to the hardware kit. The environment is written in Java and based on Processing and other open-source software. This IDE can be used with any version of the Arduino kit. The good thing about it is that it runs on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux operating systems. So depending on which operating system you are comfortable with, you can choose to work with Arduino kit accordingly. For simplicity purposes and for the benefit of maximum readers, I have based this tutorial on the Windows operating system i.e. the IDE installed on my Windows 10 laptop.
Step by Step Guide for Making the Arduino Connection
Step 1 – IDE Installation on your computer
Install the IDE as per instructions during the installation process. Once done, you will see an Arduino icon on your desktop. You have successfully completed the first step.
Step 2 – Connecting your Arduino to your computer
Connect the USB cable to the Arduino kit. A green LED (ON pin) will continuously glow on the Arduino. It means that your Arduino is now receiving power from the USB port of your computer. Also the TX LED will blink indicating the readiness of the Arduino kit.
Step 3 – Launch the IDE
Double Click the Arduino icon on the desktop. You will see a screen like this. There will be two default blank functions – setup() and loop(). So far, so good.
Step 4 – Verify connection of the Arduino with the IDE
On the IDE, click on tools -> ports. It will show you the list of serial ports along with the port on which the computer is connected/ communicating with the Arduino. Please see picture below. By default, the IDE will show you the right communication port selected. If it is not showing the right connection port for you (or not showing any port at all), you need to go to the ‘Device Manager’ of your computer and debug on which port the Arduino is connected, and appropriately select the serial port in the IDE. Only when the ports are correctly mapped, the computer and the Arduino will be able to communicate with each other. Else, there is no further action that is possible with the Arduino. Thus, this is a very essential step to go any further with any Arduino work.
Step 5 – Writing blank code to the Arduino
There are two symbols on the IDE (1) Verify – symbol is the tick mark and (2) Upload – symbol is the right arrow (See picture above). Verify does a compile of your code whereas the upload pushes the compiled code onto the Arduino. With the blank functions of setup() and loop(), do the compile and the upload. When you upload, you will notice the TX, RX and LED pins blinking. It indicates that the compiled code in now running on the Arduino kit. Once you write the blank code to Arduino, it is as good as formatting the Arduino – it clears any previous code that existed on the Arduino. It is always advisable to do this on the new Arduino you have purchased from the market. It is also a good technique to do periodically with your Arduino.
Congratulations, from here on, you are now ready to start experimenting with your Arduino kit.
Some points to note
To disconnect the Arduino, you can pull out the USB plug from the computer. The LED will stop glowing.
Connecting the Arduino to a computer is very easy and hassle-free. Hopefully, this step-by-step beginner’s guide has helped you overcome the first step of Arduino based project implementations.
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