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Microcontrol of a Macroworld: Physical Computing with Arduino

Microcontrol of a Macroworld: Physical Computing with Arduino

April 13th, 2014  |  Published in Arduino



What You Need: The Essentials

  • Arduino – A good starting model is the Uno
  • USB cable
  • Arduino IDE
  • Computer (Mac or PC) with USB port
  • Some things to connect (see Input and Output below)



  • Physical Computing by Tom Igoe and Dan O’Sullivan
  • Getting Started with Arduino by Massimo Banzi

Input Sensors
Arduinos take a variety of input sensors, both analog and digital. These sensors can be used to control information inside the computer (such as a virtual synthesizer) and/or devices in the real world (such as a DC motor):

  • LDRs (light dependent resistors)
  • Potentiometers
  • Switches (toggles, momentary, rotary)
  • Flex Resistors
  • Pressure Resistors
  • IR (infrared) Rangers & Break Beams

Output Devices
Arduinos can also be used to control real world devices:

  • DC Motors
  • LEDs (light emitting diodes)
  • Servos
  • Solenoids
  • Relays

Let’s Go!

Check out the Arduino Getting Started tutorial and choose your platform. We’ll step through the process of installing the Arduino IDE on your computer and we’ll load our first sketch.

For Mac

  1. Plug in your Arduino via USB
  2. Go to the Tools / Board menu and choose Uno
  3. Go to the Tools / Serial Port menu and choose /dev/tty.usbmodemxxxxx
  4. Click the Open icon in the Arduino IDE and choose Basics / Blink
  5. Click the Upload icon; you should see the LED by pin 13 blink
  6. Try changing the blink rate in the code

How to wire a pot:















How to wire an LDR:















How to wire a switch:














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