3 Projects to Get You Started with an Arduino Board

Buying an Arduino gives you the power to build digital and interactive devices without spending much money. Using an Arduino board, however, feels intimidating to a lot of people at first. Try starting with these three Arduino projects. They will help you gain the skills you need to tackle more advanced projects in the future.

Your Own Pong Video Game

Pong was one of the first video games developed for home consoles. Household computers in the 1980s didn’t have much memory, so programmers had to make games that used as little space as possible. Pong, with its black and white graphics and simple rules, worked perfectly.

To make your own Pong video game, you’ll need:

  • Any Arduino board
  • 470 ohm resistor
  • 1k ohm resistor
  • 10k ohm resistor
  • Two 10k ohm potentiometers
  • At least one RCA plug
  • A pushbutton switch

This project requires basic soldering skills. As long as you can solder a wire to a contact, you’re ready to get started.

Find detailed instructions for building an Arduino Pong game at makeuseof.com. This Pastebin has the code your Arduino board needs to run the Pong game. (FYI, Arduino users typically call codes “sketches.”)

A Basic Alarm System

Arduino makes it surprisingly easy for you to make your own alarm system. If you’re just getting started with Arduino boards, make this as basic as you want. You can always add extra triggers, lights, and alarms in the future.

To make a basic alarm system, you’ll need:

  • Any Arduino board
  • A piezo buzzer (you can find them online for less than $2)
  • An LED strip light
  • An ultrasonic ping sensor like the HC-SR04 (there are better sensors, but this one only costs $5)

Follow these instructions to put your Arduino alarm system together.

When you finish, you’ll have an alarm capable of detecting movement. When anything crosses the sensor’s location, the Arduino board instructs the LED strip light and piezo buzzer to go off. Professional alarm systems use more complex hardware and programming than this model, but they all essentially work the same way.

An Arduino Twitter Feed

With the right hardware and code, your Arduino board can learn to post tweets on Twitter. Somewhat surprisingly, this is one of the easiest projects you can find for your Arduino. You just need:

  • A USB cable
  • A network cable
  • An Arduino Uno

You only need about two dozen lines of code, which you can find here.

There aren’t many restrictions for what you can tell your Arduino Twitter bot to do. Twitter does, however, have some standards that you should follow. For instance, you need to keep tweets at 140 characters, you can only tweet once per minute, and you have to tweet unique messages each time (no repeats).

Playing with Arduino is one of the most effective ways to learn more about how computers work. Once you see the hardware and software function together, you’ll get a deeper understanding of what happens inside other computers. With enough practice and exploration, you can start developing your own projects instead of following instructions written by others.

Image via Flickr by Bekathwia