Arduino Basics


Arduino is a tool for making computers that can sense and control more of the physical world than your desktop computer. It’s an open-source physical computing platform based on a simple microcontroller board, and a development environment for writing software for the board.

Arduino can be used to develop interactive objects, taking inputs from a variety of switches or sensors, and controlling a variety of lights, motors, and other physical outputs. Arduino projects can be stand-alone, or they can be communicate with software running on your computer (e.g. Flash, Processing, MaxMSP.) –

Arduino and other microcontrollers allow the designer to create projects with embedded, tangible interaction: Integrating physical objects, spaces and the whole body with the digital and virtual. Tangible interaction also enables a social element to be a part of the design, where multiple people simultaneously engage with each other simultaneously with the interactive objects, spaces, and media.


  • Tiny computer that talks to the real world via sensors and actuators – we’ll go over the full range of things you can attach to a microcontroller next week.
  • Inputs and outputs
    • analog inputs (bottom right) – continuously variable sensors, e.g. proximity
    • digital ins/outs (top) – two state (on/off) sensors and outputs, e.g. switch or light
    • analog (pwm) outputs (top with “~”) – continuously variable actuators, e.g. LED
Image from this great tutorial: A more detailed diagram of the Arduino
Image from this great tutorial:
A more detailed diagram of the Arduino

Other Resources

NETLabTK - Tangible IoT