Top mistakes not to make as an Arduino beginner

Article By : Gary Elinoff, contributing writer, Electronic Products

Arduino projects aren’t as simple to build as the hype would have you believe, so be sure to avoid these errors.

Arduino boards are a relatively simple platform that take a lot of the work out of
developing microcontroller-based projects. But, the key phrase here is
“relatively simple,” because while you don’t need to be a microcontroller
engineering specialist to build some really
neat projects
, Arduino is not for the complete beginner. Let’s look at the basic
skills and competencies you’ll need in order to get started with Arduino.

Hardware perils

Learn to solder

It’s a
much-maligned art, and paradoxically, while design engineers in large companies
can sometimes delegate this skill to others, as an Arduino hobbyist or
entrepreneur, you often can’t — you have to become good at soldering.
Fortunately, there are many good videos that can help you, such as the one from
electronhacks below.


This will
seem so simple as to appear silly to professionals, but we’re talking to
beginners here, so you advanced people, stop chuckling! First and foremost, you
must be very careful when you hook your power supply to the Arduino board. The
positive voltage goes to Vin and the negative goes to GND.


Image source:

The above
illustration should serve as a cautionary tale to the beginner. Be very careful
to source your Arduino’s power source correctly, as a mistake in polarity will
fry your board.


make it easy put together projects or prototypes with a minimum of soldering.
The outer rails (two on each side) are electrically connected up and down,
while inner rails are shorted left to right. In the illustration below, the
negative battery terminal is connected to the resistor, and the other end of
the resistor goes to the LED. The LED’s other lead goes to the wire, which goes
to the battery’s positive terminal.


Image source: MakeUseOf.

Don’t overtax the Arduino

The Arduino
board is a microcontroller, much like the CPU in your smartphone. It is not
designed to power much of anything by itself. To do so, you need to employ some
kind of buffer device, like a MOSFET, to change the tiny amount of current
coming out of the Arduino to the much greater amounts needed to power things like
motors. And this isn’t only a rookie mistake, because often, even people who
should know better try to power things that, while less demanding than motors,
are still on the hairy edge of what an Arduino can safely drive.

The software

We’ve saved
the best for last, because the real beauty of the Arduino system is that so
much of the software is already written for you, and is available in libraries.
You may need to do substantial programming to get a project up and running.
But, a lot of what you do is put the prewritten pieces together, much like
assembling an IKEA bookshelf.

The Arduino Integrated Development
Environment (IDE)

The first
step is to access the IDE.
It’s with this package that you will do the programming that will tell your
board what to do. Arduino makes it easy for you: you can work with the IDE
online or download it directly to your PC from their site. As a beginner, the
safest thing to do is to agree to all the default options offered, so you can’t
go wrong.

Once you
have the IDE up and running on your PC, hook the Arduino board to your PC via a
USB cable. There will be a few steps to make sure all is as it should be.

The best
thing about these pre-written programs is that they will also provide
instruction on how to connect the various inputs and outputs on the board to
the components on the breadboard, so that the lights will flash, the motors
will turn, and you will be absolutely delighted and amazed.

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