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Arduino this, Arduino that. Maybe you’ve heard of it before, maybe you haven’t. Chances are, you haven’t — and even if you have, you probably have no idea what it is, what it can do, or why you should even care in the first place.

A lot of people label Arduino as “Lego for techy adults”, and it’s true, at least in the sense that it lets you create amazing things by combining a bunch of tiny little components together into all kinds of arrangements. But it’s much more than that, too.

Even if you aren’t a techy individual, you should still try Arduino. Not only is it a lot of fun, but along the way you’ll sharpen your mind, pick up several useful real-life skills, and build a bunch of satisfying stuff. Let’s look at what Arduino can do for you.

1. You Can Make Lots of Cool Stuff

The main reason to get an Arduino is that you can make stuff with it. If you consider yourself a tinkerer, then you’ll feel right at home. But what if you don’t like to make things? I say you should still give it a try because you never know if it’ll awaken something new within you.

What can you make, though? Anything and everything. It could be simple or complex, stupid or practical, serious or hilarious. Once you get comfortable, your imagination is the only limit. Here are some ideas to whet your appetite.

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If you’re into the whole smart home craze, then you’ll be happy to know that Arduinos are capable of doing things like controlling Philips Hue smart lights How to Control Philips Hue Lights from an Arduino (and Add a Motion Sensor) How to Control Philips Hue Lights from an Arduino (and Add a Motion Sensor) Today I'll be showing you how to control your Hue lights from an Arduino - then adding a simple motion sensor. Read More , whether manually or with a motion sensor. You can get more advanced with other Arduino home automation ideas Arduino Project Ideas for an Automated Home Arduino Project Ideas for an Automated Home Wouldn't it be great to water your greenhouse without leaving your chair? An Arduino can be engaged as the key component of some home automation projects - here's five! Read More , too.

If you’re a fan of the latest Star Wars film, then you’ll probably love this one: creating a life-size BB8 droid that you can control with your smartphone. It’s one of the coolest Arduino projects ever Get Inspired by 6 of the Coolest Arduino Projects Ever Get Inspired by 6 of the Coolest Arduino Projects Ever Like most people, I remember the first Arduino project I made. I also remember thinking "what's next?". Read More  and really shows what can be done with a bit of creativity.

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There’s nothing like the feeling of building your first working robot, and Arduino makes it easier than ever to do. If you get the right kit, you can build one for under $100 8 Arduino Robots You Can Build for Less than $125 8 Arduino Robots You Can Build for Less than $125 Read More  — but if you come up with your own design and buy the parts from China, it’ll cost way less.

You can even incorporate musical and biological elements into Arduino projects 6 Musical Projects for Arduino Beginners 6 Musical Projects for Arduino Beginners An Arduino can be to create or augment music. Here are 6 great musical projects: some are dead simple to implement while others are more complex, but they're all quite satisfying in the end. Read More , such as this one that detects when you touch a living plant and produces noise as a result.

But when you’re just starting out, you’ll first want to learn how to crawl with one of these easy Arduino projects for beginners 10 Great Arduino Projects for Beginners 10 Great Arduino Projects for Beginners Completing an Arduino project gives you a sense of satisfaction like no other. Most beginners aren't sure where to start though, and even beginner's projects can seem rather daunting. Read More . The Basic Arduino Alarm System is a good first project after you’ve gone through a few tutorials and learned the basics.

2. It’s a Great Intro to Programming

Traditionally, the learning curve for programming has been rather steep. Not only is the syntax foreign, but it can take a while before the logic of programming clicks in your head. For most people, it’s a frustrating experience.

The good news is that Arduino code is forgiving. It still has a learning curve, and it’s not exactly easy, but it’s definitely easier than trying to code your first mobile app or video game. Indeed, Arduino can be a stress-free way to wet your feet in coding How To Learn Programming Without All The Stress How To Learn Programming Without All The Stress Maybe you've decided to pursue programming, whether for a career or just as a hobby. Great! But maybe you're starting to feel overwhelmed. Not so great. Here's help to ease your journey. Read More .

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Of course, it’s not perfect. For one, the forgiving nature of Arduino code means that it’s easy to write sloppy code Arduino and Raspberry Pi Beginner? Here's How To Write Clean Code Arduino and Raspberry Pi Beginner? Here's How To Write Clean Code Read More , develop bad habits, and never come to understand what that code really means. For two, it’s relatively basic, so you probably won’t learn advanced coding techniques with it.

But for grasping the absolute basics of programming, Arduino is great. Think you’re too old or too “untechy” to get started? Think again. It’s never too late to start coding 3 Myth-Busting Reasons to Start Coding Even at an Older Age 3 Myth-Busting Reasons to Start Coding Even at an Older Age Have ever wondered if you're "too old" to start learning how to program, the simple answer is that anyone can pick it up. The real question is, should you give it a shot? Read More !

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If the idea of coding scares you, there are other Arduino-compatible languages Which Programming Languages Can You Use With Arduino? Which Programming Languages Can You Use With Arduino? Ready to try something different with your Arduino? You needn't be confined by programming in C. Take these alternative languages for a test drive. Read More  you can learn besides the official one. For example, Scratch 4 Arduino is a visual alternative that’s easier to understand for newbies Afraid of Programming in Code? Try Scratch For Arduino Afraid of Programming in Code? Try Scratch For Arduino Scratch 4 Arduino allows novices like me to build exciting Arduino projects with a visual interface. It's simple, it's fun, and it'll teach you the fundamental building blocks of programming. Read More . You’ll learn the concepts of coding without the burden of syntax.

After you’ve played around with Arduino code a bit, you might realize that you really enjoy it. That’s awesome! We encourage you to pursue it and see where it takes you, but first, ask yourself these important questions 4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Learning How to Code 4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Learning How to Code Learning a programming language is popular. But is it for everybody? Before you commit to it, do ask yourself the following questions and be honest. Read More  to make sure you have the proper expectations.

3. It’s a Great Intro to Electronics, Too

When I first got my Arduino, I had no working knowledge of electronics or circuits. I’d forgotten everything I learned back in school and felt a bit out of my depth playing with this tiny little microcontroller. Overwhelmed and quite nervous.

But I quickly learned that it doesn’t have to be that complicated. Yes, you’ll need to learn the fundamentals of circuits if you want to understand what you’re doing, but there are tons of free resources on the Internet Get Started On DIY Electronic Projects with These Learning Sites Get Started On DIY Electronic Projects with These Learning Sites Building our geeky ideas has never before been so easy. Now is the time to learn DIY electronics, and these are our top recommended resources for doing just that. Read More  for learning what you need to know.

YouTube is a particularly good resource. There you can find hundreds of Arduino-related videos Learn Electronics and Arduino Just By Watching These Videos Learn Electronics and Arduino Just By Watching These Videos Learning to program your own electronics is empowering and rewarding, but it can be difficult to get started without guidance. We've rounded up the best videos, YouTube channels and online courses to get going. Read More , such as this one:

As you play around with an Arduino, you’ll pick up all kinds of handy 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  depending on what kind of projects you pursue. If you’ve never handled wires, breadboards, or soldering guns before, then this is a safe and fun way to learn.

Not only that, but you’ll get to play around with a lot of cool electronic components What's in Your Arduino Starter Kit? [Arduino Beginners] What's in Your Arduino Starter Kit? [Arduino Beginners] Faced with a box full of electronic components, it's easy to be overwhelmed. Here's a guide to exactly what you'll find in your kit. Read More , too. At the very least, most Arduino starter kits come with LEDs, resistors, capacitors, accelerometers, motors, buttons, displays, and more. You’ll feel like a kid with Lego pieces all over again.

But most of all, as you build confidence with circuits and components, you’ll likely unlock a creative-tinkerer side of you that you never knew existed. It’s a wonderful way to express hands-on creativity.

4. It’s a Cheap Hobby to Get Into

One of the biggest points in favor of Arduino is how easy it is to get started without investing a lot of money upfront. A good starter kit can set you back anywhere between $40 and $100, but most are towards the lesser-end of that range.

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Compare that to other creative hobbies 5 Creative Hobbies That Will Make You a Happier Person 5 Creative Hobbies That Will Make You a Happier Person Read More  like painting, cooking, gardening, or photography where you can easily spend hundreds of dollars just to get the neccessary equipment and supplies to get started. Not bad, right?

It gets better. If you’re willing to buy components from China and wait several weeks for those deliveries to arrive, you can get tons of pieces — including jumper wires, LEDs, buttons, or whatever else — for single-digit dollars.

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Even the Arduino board itself can be got for real cheap if you buy clones. Not that there’s anything wrong with them! The Arduino hardware design is open source, after all, and that means you can get Chinese “knockoff” Arduinos for under $3 each Arduino Buying Guide: Which Board Should You Get? Arduino Buying Guide: Which Board Should You Get? There are so many different kinds of Arduino boards out there, you'd be forgiven for being confused. Which should you buy for your project? Let us help, with this Arduino buying guide! Read More .

Those clones are fantastic for making permanent projects — ones where you won’t be able to dismantle the Arduino and its components for reuse. At such cheap prices, you can make as many projects as you want without having to worry that you’ll bankrupt yourself.

How to Get Started With Arduino

Thinking about giving it a try? Look into getting one of these Arduino starter kits 4 Best Starter Kits for Arduino Beginners 4 Best Starter Kits for Arduino Beginners There are plenty of great beginner Arduino projects that you can use to get started, but you'll need an Arduino and some components first. Here's our pick of 4 of the best starter kits for... Read More , which will start you off with an Arduino, some useful components, a number of beginner projects, and an instructions guide.

We also recommend reading our article on what to do after getting your Arduino starter kit So You Just Bought an Arduino Starter Kit. What Now? So You Just Bought an Arduino Starter Kit. What Now? So you just bought your first Arduino starter kit -- or you're planning on buying one soon -- but you don't know where to begin? Don't worry! Read More , which provides advice for beginners and resources on where to learn more, including our own Arduino beginners guide Getting Started With Arduino: A Beginner's Guide Getting Started With Arduino: A Beginner's Guide Arduino is an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to use hardware and software. It's intended for artists, designers, hobbyists, and anyone interested in creating interactive objects or environments. Read More .

Beyond that, the world is your oyster. Good luck and have fun!

Have you played around with an Arduino before? If you’re an Arduino expert, got any advice of your own for newbies? Share with us in the comments below!

  1. Daniel Escasa
    April 3, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    You can even make your own Arduino, since it's open source hardware. One of the coolest things I've seen is the Paperduino: http://makezine.com/2014/04/04/building-an-arduino-out-of-paper/

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