Beginners Setup for Arduino and Processing

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This writeup is specificlly for the Westport High School Westport High School Page but should be useful for other beginners as well.

This is an unfinished draft, but should be useful for a start.

Setup for the Arduino and Processing falls into two major groups, setting up your PC ( most operating system ) and setting up the hardware needed. Both are discussed in the sections that follow.

Hardware Setup

The real basics:

  • Arduino board. You need at least one. There are many. Some distinctions are:
    • USB or older style Serial
    • Price
    • Kit or prebuilt
    • Memory
    • Compatible with Shields Shields are hardware extensions for the Arduino. Really nice to have. We will have a writup on them soon.
    • Easily plugable to a ProtoBoard This may conflict with compatible with shields, it would be nice to have it be both, we will work on it.
    • Speed more speed is usually better than less.
    • Voltage Most of our other circuity will probably be 5 v so 5 v is fine. the 3.3v parts are useful if used with other 3.3 v parts. Despite the different voltages there are ways to connect them together.
    • Processor two processors are the 168 and the 368, typically the 368 is more capable, but very little more expense lean towards it.

  • Connection between PC and Arduino -- Mr H. will bring some, but you should get one to go with your Arduino.

Different PCs and Arduino have different port for connection. You need a cable that will connect the two. Before you buy your Arduino board you should figure out the cable as well. Start by finding out what connections you have on your PC.

  • USB
  • "Older Style Serial" actually RS232 serial. Has a 9 pin socket on the PC

For some information on what boards are available see: Buy an Arduino board We will also discuss this during our meetings and probably place a group order.

This Arduino Starter Kit is a pretty good setup for most people if the price ( $60.00 ) does not put you off. At the other end is Bare Bones Board a kit, no cables or other goodies but $13.

  • Misc. electronic components Leds, displays, sensors, motors and so on. -- Mr H. will have a bunch, we will get more as we need them.

PC Setup

This can be a Windows machine, a Mac, or Linux. I only have a Windows PC so you may have to modify some of these directions for other operating systems. For Windows you will need to unzip some files. If you do not know how to do this try the following:


The software you need will allow you to write programs for the Arduino and move them from the PC to the Arduino.

Go to Arduino Download the Arduino Software and pick the right version of the software for your PC. Then go to Guide to Getting Started with Arduino and follow the directions for set up. Note that you can do most of this without having an Arduino Board. After you get the board you may need to go back and do a bit more setup.

For the first time through the important part is to get the enviroment running and see if you can open some of the examples. You could also try to write a short program and save it. See if you can compile a program. You cannot upload it without having a an Arduino and cable.

A note on saving files: Your files are saved in the so-called sketchbook. "sketchbook" is not the name of the directory the actual name can be set by you using Files->Preferences->Sketchbook Location. Because we will probably be moving between computers it is probably useful to make this a location on your flash drive. I would recommend something like F:/MyRobotics/Arduino/. Each sketch will get its own directory under this location. Test your setup: try writing a new program, save it, close the Arduino software, reopen the program using the File->Sketchbook menu choice. Look at your flash drive to make sure the file end up where it should be.


Processing is the laguage for the PC side of PC <-> Arduino communications. Down load it from Download Processing. Like the Arduino language you will need to unzip it for installation. It will run from the location it is unzipped to. The file to run is: processing.exe. After installing, run it. To get started with it see: Getting Started. Welcome to Processing!