Introduction to Arduino IDE

The Arduino IDE (Integrated Development Environment) is used to write the computer code and upload this code to the physical board. The Arduino IDE is very simple and this simplicity is probably one of the main reason Arduino became so popular. We can certainly state that being compatible with the Arduino IDE is now one of the main requirements for a new microcontroller board. Over the years, many useful features have been added to the Arduino IDE and you can now managed third-party libraries and boards from the IDE, and still keep the simplicity of programming the board. The main window of the Arduino IDE is shown below, with the simple simple Blink example.

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Downloading Arduino IDE Software #

You can get different versions of Arduino IDE from the Download page on the Arduino Official website. You must select your software, which is compatible with your operating system (Windows, IOS, or Linux). After your file download is complete, unzip the file to install the Arduino IDE.

What if you don’t have an Arduino board? #

If you don’t have a real hardware, you can use TinkerCad from Autodesk to build your Arduino project, program it and simulate it.

This is nicely explained from this video (Arduino Course for Beginners from Use the embedded link below to jump directly to t=2662s.

You can have a look at the TinkerCad Learning Center on Circuits for tons of examples.

Your first Arduino project #

Once the software starts, you have two options: you can create a new project or you can open an existing project example.

To create a new project, select File → New. And then edit the file.

To open an existing project example, select File → Example → Basics → (select the example from the list).

For explanation, we will take one of the simplest of examples named AnalogReadSerial. It reads a value from analog pin A0 and print it.

// the setup routine runs once when you press reset: 
void setup() 
  // initialize serial communication at 9600 bits per second:

// the loop routine runs over and over again forever: 
void loop()
  // read the input on analog pin 0:
  int sensorValue = analogRead(A0);
  // print out the value you read:
  delay(1);  // delay in between reads for stability

Basic programming of the Arduino #

Sketch − The first new terminology is the Arduino program called sketch.

Arduino programs can be divided in three main parts: Structure, Values (variables and constants), and Functions.

Let us start with the structure which consists of two main functions:

Setup() function #

The setup() function is called when a sketch starts. It is used to initialize the variables, pin modes, start using libraries, etc. The setup function will only run once, after each power up or reset of the Arduino board. Here, you can see the Serial.begin(9600); statement which opens the serial port to allow the board to send output for display by the serial monitor (see “Output” sub-section below).

Loop() function #

After calling the setup() function, which initializes and sets the initial values, the loop() function does precisely what its name suggests, and loops consecutively, allowing your program to change and respond. It is used to actively control the Arduino board. Here, you can see how a value is read from an analog pin (see “Understanding microcontroller pins” sub-section below), then displayed with the Serial.println(sensorValue); statement.

Most of the information on this page is taken from here. There are other tutorials which one might find interesting for understanding the electronics and programming an arduino board like the one here on Sparkfun.

Understanding microcontroller pins #

Microcontrollers, as opposed to microprocessors, usually have analog and digital pins that can be easily controlled either as input or output pin. Reading from a physical sensor is generally realized through an input while control or actuation is generally realized through an output. An analog and a digital pin is internally attached to a analog-digital converter (ADC) which provides the feature of converting a range on voltage, e.g. 0-3.3V, into a range of numerical values, e.g. 0-1023. A digital pin can generally only have a LOW level (0V for instance) and a HIGH level (3.3V for instance).

In the figure below is illustrated the popular ATmega328P 8-bit microcontroller that is used to equip the Arduino Uno, Nano and ProMini boards. You can see, from left to right, the real chip, then the schematic with the pin layout, and finally the Arduino Uno and ProMini boards that expose the microcontroller pins on header pins.


If you have an analog physical sensor such as an analog LM35DZ temperature sensor, then you need to connect it to an analog pin. If you have a digital sensor, it means that the sensed value is not represented by a linear function of the voltage, but with an appropriate digital coding of the value. Depending on the coding, you have to drive (e.g. read) the digital pin accordingly in order to determine the numerical value. But, usually, this is done through already written sensor or communication libraries such as the OneWire library for digital sensors using the OneWire format. A digital sensor can be connected to an analog pin if only LOW and HIGH level are used. However, it is a safe habit to use a digital pin for digital sensors, unless specified differently by the sensor or communication library.

For a digital DHT22 sensor, those who want to go into more details, you can look at the DHT.cpp file to see how the DHT22 read function is implemented. Of course, one needs to get the reference datasheet of the DHT22 sensor provided by the manufacturer in order to implement these kind of codes.

For the next 4 steps, we have a .pdf tutorial produced for the PRIMA Intel-IrriS project.

Select your Arduino board #

To avoid any error while uploading your program to the board, you must select the correct Arduino board name, which matches with the board connected to your computer.

Go to Tools → Board and select your board. For most of example illustrations, we are using an Arduino Uno board, but you must select the name, and sometime also the version, matching the board that you are using: Arduino Nano, Arduino Pro Mini 3.3v and 8MHz,…

For INTEL-IRRIS training & capacity sessions, we designed a PCB board where an Arduino Pro Mini microcontroller board can be plugged. In this case select Arduino Pro Mini in Arduino AVR boards section as the target board. Also select ATmega328P (3.3V, 8 MHz) as processor version.


If you have a recent Arduino IDE and an Arduino Nano you may need to select ATmega328P (Old Bootloader) option in the Tools → Board → Processor sub-menu.

Select your serial port #

Go to Tools → Port menu. This is likely /dev/ttyUSB0 on Linux machine, or /dev/cu.usbserialXXXXX on MacOs computers or COM3 or higher (COM1 and COM2 are usually reserved for hardware serial ports) on Windows computers.

To find out, you can disconnect your Arduino board and re-open the menu, the entry that disappears should be of the Arduino board. Reconnect the board and select that serial port.

It is very common now to have Arduino-compatible boards coming from Chinese manufacturers. It most cases, you will need the CH341 drivers to get your serial port detected. Here are the links to CH341 drivers for various OS if your board is not detected. Install the required driver, restart your computer and re-launch your Arduino IDE to see the serial port for your Arduino board.

Upload the program to your board #

Simply click the Upload button in the Arduino IDE window. Wait a few seconds, you will see the RX and TX LEDs on the board flashing. If the upload is successful, the message Done uploading will appear in the status bar.

If you have issue uploading your sketch, such as out-of-sync message or programmer not responding message, check your board type and also avoid connecting the board to your computer with a too long USB cable. Also avoid connecting through a USB hub.

Output #

You can click on the Serial Monitor button to open the serial monitor in order to show the output from the Arduino board (whatever is written with the Serial.print() function.

Be sure to select at the bottom of the Serial Monitor window, the baud rate corresponding to what has been set in your program (in the example here it is 9600).

As there is nothing connected to analog pin A0, the value read can be random. However, you can see the display. The principle of the analogRead() function is simple: if your board is a 3.3V board, then a value of 1023 means 3.3V (maximum) and 0 means 0V (minimum). Values in-between have linear relationship with regards to the maximum voltage value. The maximum value of 1023 comes from the fact that most Arduino board have a 10-bit analog-digital converter.


Continue with the examples #

You can download all examples of this tutorial here. The .zip archive also contains all the required libraries for the examples. Unzip the archive to get a sketch folder and set in your Arduino IDE (Preference menu) the sketch folder to this folder in order to have access to all examples in the sketchbook menu.

Then, start with the analog LM35DZ example.

Getting started with other Arduino or Arduino-compatible boards #

If you have a particular Arduino board, you can look at this Getting started page from Select on the right menu your board. For instance the new Arduino Nano 33 BLE Sense.


2018 - Muhammad Ehsan, Mamour Diop & Congduc Pham