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Completing an Arduino project gives you a sense of satisfaction like no other. The problem is, most beginners aren’t sure where to start, and without previous Maker experience, or some sort of electronics background, even beginner’s projects can seem rather… well, daunting.

Today we’re going to feature 10 simple projects that even the most novice of Arduino DIY’ers can build without the need for expensive add-ons, or hard-to-find parts.

To get started, all you’ll need are the items that come in most Arduino starter kits, such as:

  • An Arduino
  • Jumper wires
  • Resistors
  • Breadboard
  • LEDs
  • Buttons

For the sake of brevity, items that are typically included in starter kits What’s Included In An Arduino Starter Kit? [MakeUseOf Explains] What’s Included In An Arduino Starter Kit? [MakeUseOf Explains] I have previously introduced the Arduino open-source hardware here on MakeUseOf, but you’re going need more than just the actual Arduino to build something out of it and actually get started. Arduino "starter kits" are... Read More aren’t included in the overviews provided here, but you will get a full list of items needed on the tutorial itself.

Ready to get started?

Simple Arduino Alarm System

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This simple alarm system How To Make a Simple Arduino Alarm System How To Make a Simple Arduino Alarm System Detect movement, then scare the heck out of an intruder with a high pitched alarm sounds and flashing lights. Does that sound fun? Of course it does. That's the goal of today's Arduino project, suitable... Read More  uses a motion sensor to detect movement and emit a high pitched tone, as well as a visual display consisting of flashing LED lights. The project itself will introduce you to a couple of add-ons that don’t come in your Arduino starter kit (listed below), as well as the nuances of of using NewPing, which is an Arduino library used to help you monitor and test your sonar distance sensor.

While it’s not exactly whole home protection, it does offer a perfect solution to protect small spaces, such as bedrooms or your snack drawer, from those creeping roommates of yours.

For this project, you’ll need:

  • An ultrasonic “ping” sensor – James uses the HC-SR04 but states that a PIR would be a better choice if you had a few extra dollars to spend. If you do opt to use the same ultrasonic sensor, James assures us that it’ll get the job done.
  • A piezo buzzer
  • LED strip light

The Traffic Light Controller

traffic-light-with-switch

This super simple project is a great introduction to Arduino programming. The traffic light controller Arduino Programming For Beginners: The Traffic Light Controller Arduino Programming For Beginners: The Traffic Light Controller Last week, we learnt about the basic structure of an Arduino program and took a closer look at the 'blink' example. Hopefully you took the opportunity to experiment with code, adjusting the timings. This time,... Read More uses a red, yellow, and green LED to re-create a traffic light on your breadboard, and give you the opportunity to hack the code in order to adjust the output, timing or even the sequence itself. It’s a wonderfully easy way to get your hands wet with simple coding, and learn to modify it to fit your goals for a particular project.

All the items – LEDs, breadboard, resistors, etc. – should all be included in your starter kit.

Companion Cube Mood Lamp

This Portal-themed mood lamp How to Build a Companion Cube Mood Lamp (For Absolute Arduino Beginners) How to Build a Companion Cube Mood Lamp (For Absolute Arduino Beginners) Read More uses a square glass jar to create a color-shifting display that looks incredible in any dark room. The project itself is ideal for an Arduino beginner and most of the parts are included in your Arduino starter kit. Creating the lamp is a great starting point for beginners as the wiring, build and the code are relatively simple and a great way to slowly build into more advanced projects by learning some essential beginner’s electronics skills Beginner's Electronics: 10 Skills You Need to Know Beginner's Electronics: 10 Skills You Need to Know Many of us have never even touched a soldering iron - but making things can incredibly rewarding. Here's ten of the most basic DIY electronics skills to help you get started. Read More that you can call on later.

To build the lamp, you’ll need:

  • Square glass jar or bottle
  • Hard-drying clear glue
  • Gray and red modeling clay
  • White candle

Arduino-Powered Temperature Controller

temperature-controller-box

On the Pacific Coast of Mexico, where I live, the average year-’round temperature hovers at a pleasant 70-degrees, making central air or heat a relatively rare occurrence. I’m not complaining, and generally the temperature doesn’t warrant any sort of need for control, but certain instances (growing plants indoors, cooling items in a mini-fridge to a set temperature, controlling surface temperature of a reptile cage, etc.) could require the need for a more constant temperature. With an Arduino, and a few parts, you’ll be well on your way to creating your own instead temperature control device Make Your Own Temperature Controller with an Arduino Make Your Own Temperature Controller with an Arduino Raise the perfect bread, brew beautiful beer, and rear happy chicks with an Arduino temperature controller. If you live in a less than reliable climate like England, directions that tell you to keep something at... Read More  instead of forking over two or three times as much (or more) on a pre-built model.

Additionally, this tutorial is a valuable launching point for projects with real world application, and electronics projects that rest firmly outside of simple Arduino-related tasks.

You’ll need:

  • Temperature sensor, such as the TMP36
  • Relay or RC plug switches
  • Screw terminals
  • Box to trap the heat
  • Heating/cooling element, or incandescent bulb with fixture (or both)

Re-Create the Arcade Classic “Pong”

Pong

For retro game lovers, former Atari 2600 owners, or just someone looking for a cool project that utilizes exactly none of the resolution of your new 4k tv, you can re-create the classic Atarti game Pong How To Recreate The Classic Pong Game Using Arduino How To Recreate The Classic Pong Game Using Arduino Pong was the first ever videogame that reached the mass market. For the first time in history, the concept of a "video game" was brought into the family home, thanks to the Atari 2600 -... Read More  using just a few easy-to-find parts, and an Arduino. This project uses a lot of the parts found in most Arduino starter kits, and uses them to make two controllers as well as a fully-functioning Pong game that you’ll output to your television screen through a standard composite cable.

You’ll learn how to use a potentiometer, how to output signals from the Arduino to your television, and you’ll even get to brush up on some Arduino essential skills such as coding and soldering.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 2x 10k ohm potentiometer
  • RCA plug (you can use more than one if you want to set up sound as well)

“The TV Devil” Arduino Prank Remote

This simple project allows you to use an IR (infared) remote in order to program a receiver to create a moderate amount of innocent chaos using anything that you can control with an IR remote. This particular project details the process of building a remote control Introducing the TV Devil, An Easy Remote Control Arduino Prank Introducing the TV Devil, An Easy Remote Control Arduino Prank Read More that makes your television seem as if it has a mind of its own while it switches channels at random, turns itself on and off, or just generally acts as if it has a mind of its own.

The prank itself is a great intro to learning the basics of IR control and receivers, which will lead you into more advanced projects like creating a Siri-controlled remote. But, before we walk we must learn to crawl, and this is a good place to start.

What you’ll need to build the TV Devil:

Make Your Own Ambilight for $60

Originally developed for Phillip’s TVs, the Ambilight features ambient lighting that reacts to the images on your television screen. The technology was only featured in a limited number of TVs, and as such it led many makers to attempt to re-create the Ambilight Make Your Own Ambilight for $60 Make Your Own Ambilight for $60 Ambient lighting that reacts to the image on your TV is easier and cheaper than you think - and it makes for a great upgrade to your home cinema experience. Read More in order to work with any TV. With affordable and programmable LED strips, this project is now one that even a beginner can take on, and for as little as $60 in parts.

In this project, we’ll learn a bit more about re-using parts from other projects, or from items that we might have laying around the house, such as the power supply that keeps the entire thing running. The LED strips are also going to be new to most Arduino beginners, and although the configuration is a bit tedious, the strips themselves are relatively easy to figure out and use for a number of future Arduino projects.

What you’ll need: 

  • 10A 5V power supply (this one was sourced from an old computer – be very careful with this, as they can hold a high current charge for many weeks after being turned off)
  • WS2812B 5-meter LED strip
  • Double sided tape
  • Processing installed

Arduino-Powered Laser Turret

While there aren’t a lot of practical reasons for building an Arduino-powered laser turret Pew Pew! How To Build A Laser Turret With An Arduino Pew Pew! How To Build A Laser Turret With An Arduino Are you bored? Might as well build a laser turret. Read More , that doesn’t make it any less fun to play with when you complete it. Using a few affordable parts, and an optional smoke machine, you too can turn off the lights and re-create any number of scenes from popular Sci-Fi films, or – even better – create two of them and have your very own laser battles inside any dark room.

For some Arduino beginners, this will be your first foray into using a servo, but if you’ve been following along, the other skills are going to be firmly within your wheelhouse. In addition, the code is easily hackable and allows you to customize the time between bursts, as well as the number of shots to take and the start and end position for each servo.

To build your own, you’ll need:

  • 2 servos
  • Laser module
  • Piezo buzzer
  • Metal wire and cable ties

Pulsating LED Cube

This little 4 x 4 x 4 cube How To Make a Pulsating Arduino LED Cube That Looks Like It Came From The Future How To Make a Pulsating Arduino LED Cube That Looks Like It Came From The Future If you’ve dabbled with some beginner Arduino projects, but are looking for something a little permanent and on a whole other level of awesome, then the humble 4 x 4 x 4 LED cube is... Read More uses super bright LEDs as well as some mutliplexing to control the lighting from a single Arduino Uno board. If you haven’t quite mastered soldering, this is good practice, and it’ll prove especially useful as you foray into building projects that are a little more permanent than the starter projects you’ve most likely been building to this point. In addition, you can program the cube to do some really cool stuff Programming Your Arduino 4x4x4 LED Cube To Do Some More Awesome Stuff Programming Your Arduino 4x4x4 LED Cube To Do Some More Awesome Stuff Last week, I built an LED cube - 64 LEDs that you can program to make fantastic futuristic light shows - and I hope you did too, because it's a great project to motivate you... Read More once you’re finished.

You’ll need:

  • 64 LEDs
  • Craft wire
  • Component wire
  • Crocodile clips
  • Scrap wood
  • Drill

Weekend Project: Build a Giant LED Pixel Display

For the LED lovers out there, this display is a relatively simple build in the Arduino sense, but physical construction could be a little more time consuming, and/or frustrating. The LED pixel display uses strands of LEDs in order to create vibrant patterns, text, or even animated GIFs that you can frame, and hang right on your wall. The build relies mostly on skills you’ve learned to this point, but with the addition of some firmware integration and the use of external software, called Glediator (free) that allows you complete LED matrix control as well as the ability to create live or pre-recorded mixes of your LED animations.

To get started, you’ll need:

  • 10-meter strip of LED pixels
  • 5V 10A power supply
  • Thick wire
  • Ikea RIBBA photo frame
  • Glass frosting spray
  • White paint

Hopefully, you’ll find at least a few projects that you can tackle with your new Arduino kit. After you’re finished, come back and share a photo with us, or links to other cool Arduino starter projects in the comments section.

So, what do you plan to build with your Arduino?

Photo credit: Pong via Wikimedia Commons

  1. Butthurt Guy
    July 19, 2016 at 8:47 am

    As a black, vegan, feminist, anti-gay, and sociopath guy, I find this post racist.

    • OplokAngMobasa
      July 20, 2016 at 6:30 am

      Really niggah?

    • makairoso
      July 26, 2016 at 1:45 pm

      hahaha u crazy man

  2. Butthurt Guy
    July 19, 2016 at 8:18 am

    Bad projects

    • Butthurt Guy
      July 19, 2016 at 8:48 am

      Yeah so true

  3. hello
    June 12, 2016 at 12:11 pm

    Not good projects

  4. Brandon Li
    April 8, 2016 at 12:20 am

    beepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeepbeep

  5. Anoonnymus
    April 8, 2016 at 12:19 am

    DINGDINGDINGDINGDINGDINGDINGDINGDING WHAT HAVE YOU DONE BROTHER!??!?!!?!?

  6. nidhi
    March 13, 2016 at 9:25 am

    i want to make a small project on iot for my seminar, i dnt knw hw to do it ...i have a small idea but i dnt knw hw to bring it in action

  7. Ed Mallon
    January 17, 2016 at 6:43 pm

    This is an UNO based data logger that is pretty easy for beginners to assemble as it requires no soldering:

    http://edwardmallon.wordpress.com/2015/12/22/arduino-uno-based-data-logger-with-no-soldering/

    We have been using it to introduce students to environmental monitoring & to help them get started with basic programming on the Arduino platrom.

  8. JeMmiye
    December 2, 2015 at 11:31 am

    sounds racist dude

    • Nell
      December 17, 2015 at 1:27 am

      Since when is red head a race?

    • TumblrIsCancer
      January 20, 2016 at 12:33 am

      TRIGGERED

  9. Madushan
    November 26, 2015 at 10:31 am

    Hello, I am madushan. your projects are good

  10. rob
    November 16, 2015 at 1:03 am

    OOOH! i love pong!

  11. Bryan Clark
    March 19, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    I actually just made one. It looks even better once it's blinking in your own home!

  12. nxtz
    March 19, 2015 at 4:19 pm

    That cube looks awesome!

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