Arduino software

You download the free Arduino software from It works in Windows and Linux and on a Mac. I am currently using it with ubuntu 13.04 Linux. You follow the simple instructions to install and configure it.

You then plug your Arduino board into a USB socket and set it up. In Windows it is a bit of a fiddle as you have to set up a COM port for each board, but it is very simple in ubuntu/Linux. If possible I suggest you use ubuntu. If you must keep Windows you can set up a dual boot system. Alternatively you might use a cheap or old PC just for arduino. There is no need for a powerful machine. Dig that old one out of the loft.

It is a beautifully clean and easy to use interface. The code that you write or modify is called a sketch. The one shown below blinks the onboard LED.

When you start up the user interface you get a blank sketch with the day's date included. You can then write your own sketch or or open a sketch from the Files/Examples menu. This is what you get when you open Basics/Blink:

The strip near the top is worth a bit more description:

From left to right:

The tick is the compile button. This checks your code for correctness and turns it into machine code for the Arduino board.

The arrow uploads the machine code to the Arduino board through the USB port

The document icon starts a new sketch

The up arrow opens a sketch that has been saved previously

The down arrow saves the current sketch

The magnifying glass is a serial interface with the Arduino board that allows data to be sent in either direction. When pressed it opens up a new panel on your screen. This can be used to put messages on displays attached to the board. It is also the closest the Arduino software gets to a debugging tool. You can send sample data back to your computer from the board to see the state of the data inside your code as it runs (or just before it crashes).

The Help menu has an option to jump to the Arduino site to use the code libraries and get general help.


(C) Peter Scott 2012

Last edit 23 December 2015