Arduino Tutorials

Below you can find tutorials about the Arduino and projects that explain how to use the Arduino, shields, and breakout boards to create useful payloads for your rockets.  The projects are not meant to be the final payload, but suggestions for things that you can use as the beginning of  your payload and expand upon.  All tutorials use prototyping hardware – you may want to use smaller hardware that is more permanently wired for flight hardware.


Materials and Supplies (V1.1 – 6/21/2014) – Suggestion and links for materials and supplies useful for your project – with listing of some sensors you might want to use

Data Logging (V1.0 – 6/29/2014) – Learn how to record data to an SD Card and how to use the Real Time Calendar/Clock to track time

Introduction to GPS on the Arduino (V1.0 – 5/25/2014) – Learn how GPS works and understand the messages sent by the GPS receiver and how to interpret them

Introduction to the LCD (V1.0 6/15/2014) – Learn how to display characters on an LCD.  This tutorial uses an 20 character 4 line I2C display


Three Axis Accelerometer and Gyro with RF downlink (V1.1 – 5/19/2014) – Use the MPU6050 3 axis Accelerometer/Gyro to show  your rocket’s attitude via an RF downlink

GPS with RF downlink to Google Earth (V1.0 – 5/26/2014) – Use an Arduino Uno with an EM-506 GlobalSat receiver and an RF downlink to track your rocket’s location in 3D


Arduino Uno Overview

Resources – Books and Tutorials

Source of electronics (processor boards, shields, and breakout boards)


In addition to rocketry, during SPARC you will need to develop or enhance your understanding of electronics and programming in general, and especially programming the Arduino.  Once you have the basics, learn about the Arduino platform, then the specifics about what you want to fly as your payload.


  1. Basic Electronics Video Series – “Scotty” takes you through electronics basics – some of which you will need for your payload, other is just good information (18 videos)
  2. Programming on Arduino – A series of videos explaining the Arduino programming environment and the language (5 videos)
  3. Basics of the Arduino – A series of videos with example programs explaining how to use the Arduino, the inputs and outputs, and how to connect them (16 videos)
  4. Basics of the Arduino – A similar series of videos and example programs by Jeremy Blum (15 videos) – you don’t need both “Basics” series so choose whichever you like
  5. Next, experiment with Arduino and write or modify a few programs until you feel comfortable with the electronics and programming
  6. Check out the “TOPICS” tutorials below to learn about hardware and software that might be useful in your payload.
  7. The “PROJECTS” tutorials below put the topics together into electronics suitable for your payload that you can use to get started for your project and expand upon
  8. The Sparkfun Tutorials Page has over 200 different tutorials on a variety of subjects including electronics and programming.  These tutorial will also give you a good idea of what is available (note:  not all tutorials are use Arduino).


Software libraries are collections of callable routines (functions, subroutines) that are program segments that are used to extend the functionality of the programs you write, or more easily access the hardware without knowing all of the details.  There are a lot of libraries, below are links to the ones you will probably use for your payloads

Software Serial allows UART-like functionality on other non-hardware UART pins through software for serial communications

Wire allows two-wire communications through I2C or TWI (Inter Integrated Circuit usually pronounced “I squared C”, or Two Wire Interface – they are the same)

I2Cdev (general) and I2Cdev (functions) allows serial communications with the many pieces of hardware (shields and breakout boards) that communicate via I2C


OTHER TUTORIAL FAMILIES (See also Resources – Books and Tutorials above)

Vimeo Arduino Tutorial Pages (Programming, Electronics, Arduino) Tutorial pages (Arduino)