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The Arduino IDE

Learn Robotics

The Arduino IDE

The Arduino Integrated Development Environment – or Arduino Software (IDE) – contains a text editor for writing code, a message area, a text console, a toolbar with buttons for common functions and a series of menus. It connects to the Arduino and Genuino hardware to upload programs and communicate with them.

Writing Sketches

Programs written using Arduino Software (IDE) are called sketches. These sketches are written in the text editor and are saved with the file extension .ino. The editor has features for cutting/pasting and for searching/replacing text. The message area gives feedback while saving and exporting and also displays errors. The console displays text output by the Arduino Software (IDE), including complete error messages and other information. The bottom righthand corner of the window displays the configured board and serial port. The toolbar buttons allow you to verify and upload programs, create, open, and save sketches, and open the serial monitor.

Tabs, Multiple Files, and Compilation

Allows you to manage sketches with more than one file (each of which appears in its own tab). These can be normal Arduino code files (no visible extension), C files (.c extension), C++ files (.cpp), or header files (.h).

Uploading

Before uploading your sketch, you need to select the correct items from the Tools > Board and Tools > Port menus. The boards are described below. On the Mac, the serial port is probably something like /dev/tty.usbmodem241 (for an Uno or Mega2560 or Leonardo) or /dev/tty.usbserial-1B1 (for a Duemilanove or earlier USB board), or /dev/tty.USA19QW1b1P1.1(for a serial board connected with a Keyspan USB-to-Serial adapter). On Windows, it’s probably COM1 or COM2 (for a serial board) or COM4, COM5, COM7, or higher (for a USB board) – to find out, you look for USB serial device in the ports section of the Windows Device Manager. On Linux, it should be /dev/ttyACMx , /dev/ttyUSBxor similar. Once you’ve selected the correct serial port and board, press the upload button in the toolbar or select the Upload item from the Sketchmenu. Current Arduino boards will reset automatically and begin the upload. With older boards (pre-Diecimila) that lack auto-reset, you’ll need to press the reset button on the board just before starting the upload. On most boards, you’ll see the RX and TX LEDs blink as the sketch is uploaded. The Arduino Software (IDE) will display a message when the upload is complete, or show an error.

When you upload a sketch, you’re using the Arduino bootloader, a small program that has been loaded on to the microcontroller on your board. It allows you to upload code without using any additional hardware. The bootloader is active for a few seconds when the board resets; then it starts whichever sketch was most recently uploaded to the microcontroller. The bootloader will blink the on-board (pin 13) LED when it starts (i.e. when the board resets).

Libraries

Libraries provide extra functionality for use in sketches, e.g. working with hardware or manipulating data. To use a library in a sketch, select it from the Sketch > Import Library menu. This will insert one or more #include statements at the top of the sketch and compile the library with your sketch. Because libraries are uploaded to the board with your sketch, they increase the amount of space it takes up. If a sketch no longer needs a library, simply delete its #includestatements from the top of your code.

There is a list of libraries in the reference. Some libraries are included with the Arduino software. Others can be downloaded from a variety of sources or through the Library Manager. Starting with version 1.0.5 of the IDE, you do can import a library from a zip file and use it in an open sketch. See these instructions for installing a third-party library.

Third-Party Hardware

Support for third-party hardware can be added to the hardware directory of your sketchbook directory. Platforms installed there may include board definitions (which appear in the board menu), core libraries, bootloaders, and programmer definitions. To install, create the hardware directory, then unzip the third-party platform into its own sub-directory. (Don’t use “arduino” as the sub-directory name or you’ll override the built-in Arduino platform.) To uninstall, simply delete its directory.

Serial Monitor

Displays serial data being sent from the Arduino or Genuino board (USB or serial board). To send data to the board, enter text and click on the “send” button or press enter. Choose the baud rate from the drop-down that matches the rate passed to Serial.begin in your sketch. Note that on Windows, Mac or Linux, the Arduino or Genuino board will reset (rerun your sketch execution to the beginning) when you connect with the serial monitor.

You can also talk to the board from Processing, Flash, MaxMSP, etc

 

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