In this short post, I will describe you how to install the Arduino interactive development environment (IDE) on Windows. This is a very easy process that takes only a few minutes to do and you only need an Arduino board connected via an USB port.
First of all, what is Arduino?
As Arduino’s website says, Arduino is an open-source prototyping platform based on easy-to-use hardware and software. What Arduino boards allows you is to read inputs, that is, signals that comes from devices as sensors, buttons or user inputs using a computer, and turn it into outputs, which can be lighting up an LED, move a motor or publish something on the internet.
Let’s see an example: Imagine that you want to open the window of your bedroom when the temperature reaches 25ºC (77ºF). And you want this to be automated. So, you have the input ‘Room temperature equal or higher than 25ºC (77ºF)’ and the output ‘open the window’. With an Arduino, you can set up a temperature sensor which will check the temperature of the room, and when it reaches 25ºC (77ºF), the Arduino will activate a motor to open the window.
First, get the required arduino files
If you want to know more, the main website for all you need about Arduino boards is arduino.cc. Here you can find a better introduction and all the story about each Arduino board, all the required software, examples and a community which usually helps you when you run into problems.
Current version of Arduino IDE is 1.6.5 and you can download it here. To make things easier, you should click the ‘Windows Installer’ option to download an ‘exe’ file. The only thing you need to do is double-click this file and follow the instructions prompted, wait a few minutes and the Arduino IDE will be installed on your system.
Check if the arduino is on the correct COM port
Now you can open the Arduino IDE using the recently created shortcut or through the start menu. You should see something like this:
By default, the IDE will set your Arduino board on COM 1, which might not be correct in all the cases. If you don’t select the correct port, you won’t be able to load any program on the Arduino. The easiest way to select the correct port is to connect the Arduino now (wait a few seconds if Windows needs to install some drivers) and then go to ‘Tools’ and then ‘Port’. If the program already selected the correct port, you will see the port and the name of your board, in any case, you can select the port on the menu as shown in the next picture:
Final step, check if everything is working
To be sure that everything is going well, you can load an example program in the Arduino an see if everything is working as it should. In the Arduino IDE, go to ‘File’, ‘Examples’, ‘Basic’, and select ‘Blink’. Now, a new sketch will open with an example program. What this program does is turning on the LED on the Arduino board -the one labelled with an L next to the GND and pin number 13- for a second and then turning it off for another second.
To test the program, click on the right arrow on the top of the IDE, or go through ‘Sketch’ and ‘Upload’ or use the shortcut ‘Ctrl+U’. After a few seconds the LED on the Arduino board should start to blink.