Opening the Arduino box

"Open the box/Open the box/Open the goddam box!"

The Fall - Boxoctosis

I was talking with my friend and colleague David Martin about an animal-tracking project I'm looking to get involved with, where we aim to track individuals using RFID chips. This project lends itself to a cheap technology approach with Arduino controllers, but I've never used them before. David recommended a trip to the local Maplin, where I ended up with an Arduino UNO Tutorial Kit.

What's in the box?

Here's what it looks like, unboxed:

The unboxed Arduino kit

The kit has an Arduino UNO SMD board, a 285 page manual, a 170 point mini breadboard, a small number of components, and some stickers. Disappointingly, the USB A-B cable that you need to get up and running isn't provided, but being someone who hoards cables, it didn't take me long to find one in the house. The stickers are nice, though.

Installing the IDE

I wandered over the Arduino IDE download page to download the IDE. This requires Java 7, which Apple are forever messing with, but that I already had around for other reasons.

There was a small hiccough, in that Apple's default security preferences prevented opening the IDE at first, as it couldn't identify the developer. That's usually easy to overcome in System Preferences -> Security & Privacy -> General and selecting Open Anyway, but the verification process kept triggering the check repeatedly, so I had to disable all checks for it to go to completion, before I could drag it to /Applications.

Eventually, the IDE opened, showing a blank Arduino Sketch project, the structure of which reminded me a bit of Processing

The Arduino IDE

Testing the board

At this point, I turned to the manual, which has a long preamble about Arduino types and the various components. In Chapter 6, there was a section on making sure the board is in working order.

For this, I started up the IDE again, and checked that the appropriate board (Arduino UNO) was selected under Tools -> Boards. Then I selected the appropriate port for the board under Tools -> Port. The UNO looks like a USB modem.

The Arduino port selection{:height="240px"}

Then I selected the Blink sample code from File -> Examples -> 01.Basics, and clicked the Upload icon in the IDE.

The Arduino IDE with `Blink` code

This gave a little message in the dialog at the bottom of the IDE, and the L LED on the board began to blink, slowly. This indicates that data transfer worked, and we're good to go. Once I've read some more of the manual, anyway.

Written on October 28, 2015