This document explains how to connect your Arduino board to the computer and upload your first sketch.
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You also need a standard USB cable (A plug to B plug): the kind you would connect to a USB printer, for example. (For the Arduino Nano, you'll need an A to Mini-B cable instead.)
Photos by SparkFun Electronics.
Get the latest version from the download page.
When the download finishes, unzip the downloaded file. Make sure to preserve the folder structure. Double-click the folder to open it. There should be a few files and sub-folders inside.
Connect the Arduino board to your computer using the USB cable. The green power LED (labelled PWR) should go on.
If you're using an Arduino Diecimila, you'll need to make sure that the board is configured to draw power from the USB connection. The power source is selected with a jumper, a small piece of plastic that fits onto two of the three pins between the USB and power jacks. Check that it's on the two pins closest to the USB port.
The Arduino Duemilanove and Arduino Nano automatically select the appropriate power source.
When you connect the board, Windows should initiate the driver installation process (if you haven't used the computer with an Arduino board before).
On Windows Vista, the driver should be automatically downloaded and installed. (Really, it works!)
On Windows XP, the Add New Hardware wizard will open:
You can check that the drivers have been installed by opening the Windows Device Mananger (in the Hardware tab of System control panel). Look for a "USB Serial Port" in the Ports section; that's the Arduino board.
Double-click the Arduino application.
Open the LED blink example sketch: File > Examples > Digital > Blink.
You'll need to select the entry in the Tools > Board menu that corresponds to your Arduino. For newer Arduino boards with an ATmega328 (check the text on the chip on the board), select Arduino Duemilanove or Nano w/ ATmega328. Previously, Arduino boards came with an ATmega168; for those, select Arduino Diecimila, Duemilanove, or Nano w/ ATmega168. (Details of the board menu entries are available on the environment page.)
Select the serial device of the Arduino board from the Tools | Serial Port menu. This is likely to be COM3 or higher (COM1 and COM2 are usually reserved for hardware serial ports). To find out, you can disconnect your Arduino board and re-open the menu; the entry that disappears should be the Arduino board. Reconnect the board and select that serial port.
Now, simply click the "Upload" button in the environment. Wait a few seconds - you should see the RX and TX leds on the board flashing. If the upload is successful, the message "Done uploading." will appear in the status bar. (Note: If you have an Arduino Mini, NG, or other board, you'll need to physically present the reset button on the board immediately before pressing the upload button.)
A few seconds after the upload finishes, you should see the pin 13 (L) LED on the board start to blink (in orange). If it does, congratulations! You've gotten Arduino up-and-running.
If you have problems, please see the troubleshooting suggestions.
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The text of the Arduino getting started guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License. Code samples in the guide are released into the public domain.