Perfect for taking your first steps into the world of programming, the extensive range of Arduino kits make coding possible at home or in the classroom. Renowned for creating open-source hardware and software, Arduino offer both entry-level and more complex programming products.

Used and loved by tinkers, hobbyists, and learners alike, the Arduino boards could kickstart a lifelong hobby or even open doors to careers in technology. In the following guide, we’ll help you get to grips with the Arduino family.

How does it work?

Arduino Boards can be used as tool to control other electronics by reading inputs into outputs. Using a variety of microprocessors and controllers, they can be interfaced to various expansion boards and other circuits by their sets of digital and analogue input/output pins.

The range of Arduino models includes the entry-level UNO – retailing at just over £20, it’s an affordable piece of kit, and can be used to build many different independent electronic projects. If you’re more familiar with Arduino already, the Due board could be an ideal choice, with everything on board to support a microcontroller (MCU). 

What can an Arduino do?

Your own project goals will determine what your Arduino can do. Thanks to its open-source board design, your first project could start from building your own microcomputer board piece – opening a world of possibilities.

Your Arduino could identify a light on a sensor, a finger on a button or a notification and, in response, activate a motor, turn on an LED light, or publish something online – these are all basic input to output examples. Your output could master control of robotic limbs, walking monsters, or a new machine inspired by one of the wonderful inventions shared by Guardian readers.

I’ve already got a Raspberry Pi. How is Arduino different?

A Raspberry Pi is a single-board computer, based on a microprocessor acting as a general-purpose computer. It therefore carries the ability to run various operating systems including Windows and Linux, making the Raspberry Pi capable of running multiple programs.

The Arduino, on the other hand, is based on a microcontroller – a simplified version of a computer, designed for beginners to run one single program over again. If you’re looking for a simple, easy-to-use board, the Arduino would fit the bill perfectly.

Why Arduino?

Its simple, clear programming environment not only makes Arduino easy to use for beginners but is complemented by open-source extensible software and hardware, offering circuit designers freedom to make their own versions of the modules.

Simply put, Arduino software is a great entry point, simplifying the process of working with microcontrollers for teachers, students, and amateurs. More experienced programmers could benefit from the opportunities to extend the existing software.