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Getting Started with Arduino

Massimo Banzi

Make Books, an imprint of Maker Media, a division of O'Reilly Media Inc.


Brian Manning

Book website
Source code examples available?
Yes, at
Main project website

From the back cover...

Arduino is the open source electronics prototyping platform that's taking the design and hobbyist world by storm. This thorough introduction to Arduino gives you lots of ideas for projects and helps you get going on them right away. From getting organized to putting the final touches on your prototype, all the information you need is right in this short book.

Overall impressions

This is a fun introduction to Arduino. If you are taking a look at the book in order to evaluate Arduino, this book should give you an idea of what it's all about. That being said, you probably won't pick up a lot of the concepts without having the board sitting in front of you for you to play with while you're going through the book. The good news is that the Arduino board is between $30-35US on quite a few websites, so you can pick one up and use it to work through the examples in the book. This will go a long way towards helping you understand what Arduino device itself (as well as the Arduino project/community) is all about.

The book starts out with some of the reasons why Arduino was created; it's meant to be an easy way to get started in "hardware hacking", or in other words, taking the hardware apart, rearranging it, and putting it back together again in order to come up with something new.

Windows and Mac OS X are both covered in this book. Linux users are referred to the website, and no mention is made of BSD at all, however, you can probably follow the Mac OS X notes and get along just fine. That being said, the biggest difficulty that Linux and BSD users will have will be finding the tools used to compile Arduino sketches into code for uploading into the device itself. Debian/Ubuntu do have the required packages, as does Fedora, so if you use one of those distros, or your distro is compatable with those distros, you'll be fine. You can also build the tools by hand if you want.

The book actually has you run through a few examples of code and projects before heading off into theory-land, explaining the hows and whys of electricity and electronics. All of the source for the example sketches can be downloaded from the Getting Started with Arduino website if you don't feel like typing them in. The introduction to electronics and electricity is meant for people who do not have education/experience in those fields, and serves as a good primer for what's happening between all of the physical hardware pieces that make up an Arduino project.

Throughout the book, examples of problems that you might encounter are given, along with ways to solve those problems. One good example is what's called bounce, or when a push-button switch is not completely pressed; the book describes the issue and then gives you sketch code that can be used to overcome the issue.

Later chapters deal with interfacing different bits of hardware with the Arduino board, including motors, IR sensors, switches, and light sensors. The most complex example in the book details how to make a mood lamp that queries a website, parses text from the web page, and then changes colors of the lamp based on the words that were found on the webpage.

The last couple of chapters cover troubleshooting problems, using a breadboard (breadboarding), identification of electronic parts, and an Arduino language quick reference guide.

One final note, the book does mention the main Arduino website quite a few times; the main website contains many more examples, and plans/circuit diagrams for the actual Arduino boards that can be downloaded and used under a Creative Commons license. That website is

Chapters In Brief

Chapter One is an introduction to Arduino; it goes over the intended audience, and then discusses what's called wearable computing.

Chapter Two talks about the Arduino Way; the ideas that gave birth to Arduino, and the reasons why the project has chosen the Open Source path for distributing ideas and information.

Chapter Three goes over the Arduino board itself, and covers installing the Arduino software and drivers on Windows and Mac OS X. Linux users are referred to the Arduino website.

Chapter Four is a set of simple examples that use the Arduino board and one or more LEDs to demonstrate how the board works. A gentle introduction to electricity and electronics is also given here after the first couple of examples.

Chapter Five describes more advanced input and output with the Arduino board.

Chapter Six covers the most advanced project, the network connected mood lamp.

Chapter Seven goes over troubleshooting steps. It starts with common sense troubleshooting steps, and then covers specific problems that have been encountered on different boards/platforms and in the Arduino IDE.

The Appendixes cover breadboarding, how to read resistors, capacitors, and schematic diagrams, along with a quick reference guide to the Arduino language.

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