Byte-Sized Introduction to Arduino Part 3: How do I setup my computer for Arduino?

Byte-Sized Introduction to Arduino Part 3: How do I setup my computer for Arduino?

Author's Note:

Hello! What lies below is the third post in our "Byte-Sized Introduction to Arduino" series -- what we hope becomes the de-facto introduction to Arduino and the Arduino ecosystem, for those taking their first steps.

Interested in getting caught up? You can quickly navigate the series below:

Getting Setup for Arduino Development

So! We hear you got an Arduino board and you're ready to become a DIY tinkering king/queen, huh?  Well, you've come to the right place to get your local development environment all set up!

In this post we break down what you need to do, why you need to do, and where you can find the proper resources to do it (e.g. files).

Honestly, a huge shout out to the Arduino team (and by proxy the team behind Processing.org) is required.  They've made sure that getting started is as accessible as possible!  They even have a pretty cool web-based development environment available, if you that's your thing. We, however, prefer to keep things locally and store our code within Git repositories on GitHub.

I guess we should just jump right in, right?

Installing the Arduino Desktop IDE

A screenshot of an empty sketch within v1.8.15 of the Arduino Desktop IDE.

This is the absolute bulk of the work you'll be doing!

The Arduino Desktop IDE provides an "Integrated Development Environment". In the case of the Arduino Desktop IDE; this application includes everything necessary for Arduino-based project programming, debugging, running, and even third-party library management. Meaning, you'll be able to open up the Arduino Desktop IDE, program your project, compile your code, and load it onto your Arduino Board all within that single application.

When it comes to installing the Desktop IDE, your best bet is to follow the always-up-to-date guides here:

Once you've got the Desktop IDE installed, you're essentially ready to hit the ground running!

Arduino Board Drivers (Easy Stuff!)

By default, the Arduino Desktop IDE comes prepackaged with the drivers that support all Arduino (non-mega) AVR Boards.  In most cases, this is enough, and you don't need to worry about installing any additional board drivers.

If you find yourself in a situation where the Arduino IDE cannot communicate with your Arduino Board, you may need to install additional drivers.

To view and manage the available drivers, including which you have installed, you can navigate to the "Tools > Board: {Current Board} > Boards Manager" menu option.

An image showing how to access the Boards Manager menu option on within Arduino IDE v1.8.15

By default, in the "Boards Manager" view, you will see a list of all available board drivers, including which Arduino-based (and some other!) boards are supported by that driver. What's even better is that this is essentially a click-to-install system, and from there you're all good!  Between the Arduino IDE and the Board Drivers, everything can be properly communicated to your Arduino board automatically!

A screenshot showing the default view of the "Boards Manager" within Arduino Desktop IDE v1.8.15

Closing Thoughts

While we may have only installed the Arduino Desktop IDE, and briefly touched on the Boards Manager, we are now all ready to develop our first project!

In our next post we will look at how you can make your Arduino Board "talk to you" (no physical sounds, yet!), and how you can power an LED.

Author's Note:

If for whatever reason you're finding that the Arduino IDE cannot communicate with your board, double-check that the proper "Serial Port" is selected by navigating to the "Tools > Ports" menu option.

If you continue to have issues, or are lost at all, feel free to reach out to us via our social accounts, the comments below, or even our chat with us button!

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