The Arduino is an open-source hardware/software microcontroller platform that is widely used in the physical computing community. It is low cost, well-supported by the community, and does most of what you may want to do. The Arduino comes in many forms, but if you are just getting started, we recommend using the newer UNO version.

To use the Arduino with the NETLab Toolkit, you need to install the Firmata sketch, which turns the Arduino into a device that responds to commands for reading the Arduino inputs, and setting the outputs from the computer over the USB connection.

  1. Download the Arduino software – You must use version 22 or later, but we recommend using version 1.0 or later.
  2. Install the drivers for the Arduino for boards prior to the UNO -, included with the Arduino software in the Drivers folder and available from FTDI. The new Uno board does not require drivers for Mac or PC, but does need an .inf file installed for the PC.
  3. Install the Firmata firmware on the Arduino – You must use version 2.2 or later.
    1. Open the Arduino software and set the right serial port for the Arduino under Tools>Serial Port.
      1. Mac – this is typically “/dev/tty.usbserial-XXXXX” where XXXXX is something like “A6008bQZ”. If you have the Arduino UNO board, the last part instead will be usbmodemXXX where XXX is a number.
      2. PC – it is usually something like “USB Serial Port (COM5)”
    1. Select the appropriate Arduino Board setting to match your hardware under Tools>Board. For the Duemilanove, this would be: “Arduino Duemilanove w/ ATmega328“, for the Uno “Arduino Uno
    2. Open the standard firmata library: File>Examples>Firmata>StandardFirmata
    3. Upload the software to your Arduino
    4. Once the upload is complete, quit the Arduino application
  4. Leave the Arduino attached to your computer by USB
  5. Launch the NETLab Hub
  6. Use the Widgets in Flash, or create a program in Processing

Hook up a knob / potentiometer to the Arduino

  1. Hook the center wire from the knob, which is the “signal” wire (usually WHITE or YELLOW) to the desired port on the Ardiuno, Analog In Port 0 in this example, marked “0”.
  2. Hook the ground wire (usually BLACK) up to the pin marked “GND” (i.e. 4th pin in from right)
  3. Hook the power wire (usually RED) up to the pin marked “5V” (i.e. third pin in from right)

For more info on how to work with the Arduino, see these pages: Mac, Windows

Last modified March 7th, 2012