3 Beginner Arduino Mistakes

In my decade of experience building with and teaching Arduino, I see three mistakes more often than any others. Beginners typically:

  1. bite off more than they can chew by attempting to build a project with too many elements at once,
  2. make incorrect assumptions during prototyping,
  3. and underutilize the resources available to them online.

Read more about each one in the tutorial that follows, including how to avoid making these mistakes yourself.

If you’re just starting out in Arduino, try my free Instructables Arduino Class! It’ll bring you up to speed on the basics and best practices, further enhancing your Arduino fun-to-frustrating ratio.

If you’ve got tips for beginners, we’d all love to hear about them in the comments!

Sensible Bites

The most common beginner Arduino mistake is biting off more than you can chew by attempting to build a project with too many elements at once. You get frustrated and overwhelmed, and the project never gets finished. If you want to build a quadcopter, you need to break it down into simpler systems first. Quadcopters have GPS, inertial measurement units with accelerometers and gyroscopes, not to mention variable speed motor control. You should honestly reflect on your abilities, and then look up examples and tutorials for each component of your project, and build them successfully before attempting to combine them.

Don’t Assume It’s Right

The second mistake I see frequently is making assumptions during prototyping. I know it can be really tough to learn all the things that possibly could go wrong, whether it be your wiring, or your code, or your software settings– but when you’re circuit’s not behaving like you expect, don’t just assume your wiring is right without checking. Double check the pin number you specified in software is the same pin connected to your LED, or sensor, etc. Double check power and ground, especially. Get into a detective mindset, hunt for missing semicolons, get out your multimeter, add in some serial debugging to your code to help figure out what’s going on.

Prototyping resources:

Look It Up

The last mistake I see a lot with Arduino beginners is underutilizing the resources available to you online. The Arduino site has a reference section that breaks down the whole programming language by groups of commands with simple samples demonstrating each one. I look up stuff all the time, like how modulo works. But there’re also community resources you should be taking advantage of as well, like researching your questions in forums online, and posting tutorials about your projects!

Check out some of my most popular Arduino projects:

Originally posted on Instructables