Arduino- Where to Start?

Being interested in making stuff, no matter what you make, time and then you're bound to bump into Arduino, either in social media communities or while googling. Eventually you begin YouTubing and Google-ing projects made with Arduino, to find out its applications and limits.
This article is a quick read summing up all that you should know to go about learning and understanding Arduino.

By using the word Arduino, I could be referring to several different things, which can be confusing. 

1. 'Arduino' usually refers to an Arduino programmable board. 
Several variants of Arduino boards.

2. Or could mean the Arduino IDE, which is a software that allows you to program an 'Arduino compatible board' via USB.
The classic Arduino IDE (programming Environment)

3. Or maybe organisation behind this revolutionary open-source platform used in DIY electronics, 'Arduino'.

Image result for arduino community

So, what the hell is Arduino and how are all things above related to each other?

Arduino is an open-source electronics platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. It's intended for anyone making interactive projects. It senses the environment by receiving inputs from many sensors, and affects its surroundings by controlling lights, motors, and other actuators. You can tell your Arduino what to do by writing code in the Arduino programming language and using the Arduino development environment (IDE).
The good thing about Arduino is that a lot of 'plug-and-play' sensors and actuators are available in the market with complete documentation and a lot of tutorials on the web. 

What makes up the Arduino board?

Before Arduino came into existence, working with micro-controllers was a skill limited to engineers and trained professionals. To be more precise, Chips/ICs like the Atmega328 and Mega2560 existed back then, but needed hell lot of extra attachments to get them work in a simple project. Oh, and must I mention this creepy component needs to be programmed with binary/hex codes?
Atmega-328 (The brain of the Arduino UNO)
And then Arduino comes into picture, An Arduino board encapsulates all that is needed to get the chip into prototyping conditions. Any Arduino board you pick up, you can find one of the popular Atmega chips.

Where do I start?

Learning, electronics is pretty much like pushing a car with a dead battery. First, you would try all that you can to get the battery to start up, by hook or by crook, just to get the engine started.

But once, you've experimented enough, tried all that you could to get the car started and you decide to revert to pushing the car with all your energy, the car 
doesn't move a single inch for a good amount of time. But once you overcome friction, and the wheels begin to roll, the car starts to move and its gets a lot more easier as it speeds up.

In a nutshell, it takes time to get used-to such stuff, and you have to be at it. Circuits that don't work can be frustrating. But, once you've done your share of research get it to work, you learn a lot that you wouldn't have learned otherwise with a readymade kit.

Anyways, coming to the technicality,
The conventional approach of first understanding its construction and hardware and then moving on to its programming, could be very taxing if you want to jump into prototyping and making things that you've always wanted to make.

For a complete beginner who wants to dive into Arduino, the best way would be to first go on build a hands-on project and then later understand why and what you've done to get your project working. Sooner or later, once you know what to do and how to do, you'll realise why you've been doing so.
Click to enlarge

What pre-requisite knowledge do I need before I can start learning Arduino?

  • You're on this page, congratulations, you've already met with one criteria i.e, knowing how to Google. Whenever you don't know how to go about something, just Google! (or StackOverFlow, when it comes to coding).
  • Basic electronics knowledge like concepts of voltage and current will be handy, which you can learn along the way.
  • Prior experience of programming is a plus point, but once again, no worries, if this is your first time.
So, if you want to venture out, and start your journey in electronics and programming consider buying yourself an Arduino Starter kit from Amazon or any other decent shopping place you trust.
Since the Arduino hardware is open-source, you may find many replicas of the Arduino UNO that offer the same functionality (just that it won't be named arduino, for eg- funDuino), go ahead and buy any one of them with decent reviews. 

If you happen to buy an Arduino from India, these are two starter kits that I can recommend.

The official Arduino website is a very good place to start exploring Arduino. 

If you already have an Arduino and want to get started, here's a quick first project.

This website is dedicated to providing resources to conceptually understand robotics and to inculcate the attitude of learning by doing. If you wish to learn more, take a moment and click on the subscribe button on the top of the page, to be notified whenever new content is shared (and access to some interesting subscriber-only content).
Stay tuned for step by step tutorials!