What is Arduino?
The term "Arduino" is broad but essentially encompasses all the products and software that form a compatible embedded systems platform. To be brief - Arduinos are little programmable boards that can be as simple, or as complex we want them to be. They can be tiny, or big, depending on the features you want. They contain the same core components so programming them is streamlined.
The great thing is that Arduino boards allow for easy prototyping, are programmed from the same (free) software package and provide millions of examples to help you build the project you want.
Your Arduino can be programmed to operate completely autonomously (no need to hook it up to a computer when you're finished!) which makes it fantastic for building robots, displays or self-contained games.
Just starting out? Get yourself an Arduino Uno Board.
Where to buy
Arduino is sold at most electronics stores, and online! Perth retailers include Altronics and Jaycar. You'll also find a ton available on different websites.
Which board you get depends on your goals. Talk to one of us at STEM club if you'd like some advice. If you're just starting out, we recommend the Arduino Uno as part of a "beginners kit". The whole thing would probably cost between $30-$100 depending on the extras you get. Note: You can get plenty of fun and programming experience out of just the board by itself. That's less than $30!
Note: You'll sometimes see Arduino sold as Genuino which is still the official board. There are also non-official versions like Fundino you might also like to consider. They all use similar/same components and are programmed using the same software.
The great thing about Arduino is that companies already produce pre-built boards with all the fancy electronics so you don't have to be an expert to get the best out of your device! Just step into any Jaycar, Altronics or favourite electronics store and you'll see a variety of "shields" which can be stacked onto your Arduino. These can include output devices like screens, or input devices like sensors and even radio transmitters. Dr Pusey's favourites include the LCD Shield, Ethernet Sheild and the Motor/Servo Control Shield. Tip: A solder-less breadboard would always be very handy to experiment with sensors.
Coding your Arduino
All you need to do is hook up your board to your computer's USB port and run the Arduino IDE software. There are several examples to get you started. The software language is based on C/C++ and there are millions and millions of examples you can look at to get an idea on how to get the best out of your Arduino Board.
Arduino Software IDE Download - Must have to program your Arduino