MCN Workshop Part 1

Welcome to the MCN workshop Dabble with Microcontrollers. This is the first post in a series that we will use during the workshop.

First, we need to download the software we’ll use to code later in the workshop. It’s a little tricky, but once it’s done, you should be able to run all the code we are using today. You will need administrative rights on your computer to install.


Adafruit Arduino Software

We will need a program to develop code. Download the Adafruit Arduino Software. Full instructions are here.

For Mac:

  1. Download the application
  2. Unzip it
  3. Move it to your applications folder
  4. Try opening the programcant-open-from-web
  5. If you are running a newer version of OS X, you will need to change your security settings so that this program downloaded from the internet will run on your computer. Follow the instructions on the Adafruit site.system-preferences
  6. You may be asked to install a version of Java. Go ahead and click “More Info” to go to the website, download, and
  7. You may also be asked to allow incoming connections from the program. Go ahead and choose allow.

For Windows

  1. Things may be a bit more interesting with Windows.
  2. First, we need to install the drivers for GEMMA. Full instructions here. Download Windows XP/Vista/7 drivers here or Windows 8 drivers here. Unzip them to a temporary place you know, like the desktop.
  3. Plug-in the GEMMA and you should get this screen. If not, use the device manager to update the driver.drivers
  4. Click “Browse” to find the folder we unzipped on the desktop. Make sure you choose to include subfolders. Then click “Next.”drivers2
  5. You may get a security warning. You should be ok to choose “Install this driver software anyway.”drivers3
  6. After a little bit, you should get a message that the driver was successfully installed. Click “Close.”Screenshot_2
  7. Now, download the software
  8. Unzip it
  9. Rename the unzipped folder from “windows” to something more useful, such as “Arduino Adafruit”foldername
  10. Move the folder to your programs folder C:\Program Files (x86)\. You may get a permissions pop-up message. Choose “Continue.”userights
  11. Try opening the program C:\Program Files (x86)\Adafruit Arduino\arduino.exe
  12. Make a shortcut to this program if you would like.

NeoPixels Library

We will all need to do this step, regardless of the operating system.

We will be using some fancy flashing lights, called NeoPixels. You will need the code library. This part should work the same on all three platforms.

  1. Find the download button on Github

    Download the library on this page

  2. Look on the right side of the page at the bottom of the column, for the button labeled, “Download Zip”.
  3. Save this file to a temporary place on your computer, like the desktop.
  4. Rename the folder to not have any dashed, only underscores
    Rename the folder to not have any dashed, only underscores

    Unzip the folder and rename it, “Adafruit_NeoPixel”. Notice there are no dashes, only underscores.

  5. Now open the Arduino program.
  6. Choose Sketch >> Import Library >> Add Library…
  7. Navigate to the “Adafruit_NeoPixel” folder and click “Choose”
  8. This will save the library to the proper location on your computer. To make sure it worked, go to Sketch >> Import Library and look for “Adafruit_NeoPixel” in the contributed list at the bottom
Adding the library to the software
Adding the library to the software



Cover photo by John Nussey

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