Whether tackling a new hobby, prototyping a product idea, or simply satisfying your curiosity, the world of Arduino offers a wealth of possibities. The best way to dive in is with the right resources in hand, so EngBlaze has picked five of the best Arduino books out there to help you brush up on your skills. Each book caters to different topics and skill levels, so check out our summaries to see which one is right for you.
Most Arduino books take one of two approaches. Some treat every new concept as individual module and present examples that are effective but simple and self-contained. These help you learn, but can be a bit dry, and often don’t include valuable real-world application notes. Other books take the “giant staircase” approach, where they introduce concepts one by one as you construct a complex example project. This is useful and often more fun, but what if you don’t want to end up with a tweeting, GPS-enabled, cellular connected kegerator?
Beginning Arduino is different in that each example builds off one another, but still includes new considerations that help you apply each concept to your own ideas. The book is extremely well-reviewed on Amazon, and readers say it provides the perfect beginner angle without any coddling. It’s also best for hackers who have never used Arduino or other microcontrollers before, but have some sort of basic programming experience (can be any language).
Get the book here: Beginning Arduino (Amazon)
The Arduino Cookbook, published by O’Reilly Media, is a huge resource for those looking for an introduction to Arduino and physical computing. We say huge quite literally, as this tome clocks in at 680 pages in the paperback version. It covers everything from setting up the Arduino programming environment on multiple operating systems, through tothrough basic programming concepts, Arduino shields, and various types of possible input and output.
Filled with tons of recipes and example projects that are relatively self-contained, the book is best used as a reference and as inspiration for code and project ideas. There are illustrated examples for outputs such as lights, relays, buzzers and speakers, and inputs such as GPS, remote controls, and various sensors. It also covers valuable communication topics such as ethernet, RFID, and wireless networks, so you can get your Arduino talking with the outside world.
If you’re already an experienced programmer and are just looking to figure out the differences between Arduino and other platforms, the Arduino Cookbook probably isn’t for you. However, if you’re new to the awesome world of robotics, embedded systems, and DIY electronics, the Cookbook will keep you occupied for a long time.
Grab it here: Arduino Cookbook, 2nd Edition (Amazon)
This version has been updated for the Arduino 1.0 release, so it will include all the latest changes. It was published on December 30th, 2011.
Simon Monk gives Arduino newcomers a walkthrough that goes further than “Getting Started With Arduino”, but still covers each topic in a very accessible way. He also takes example projects beyond the workbench and includes helpful considerations to how you might want to implement them in the real world. For example, the book has the obligatory “blink a LED” example, but then goes on to modify the circuit for high power LED’s that you can use in various applications.
The projects are fun and creative, including a servo-controlled laser, lie detector, magnetic door lock, and more. Each example has a full schematic, parts list, and example code to get your rolling quickly. If you’re looking for your next step in Arduino world domination, check this book out.
Find the book here: 30 Arduino Projects for the Evil Genius (Amazon)
Authored by Massimo Banzi, a co-founder of the Arduino platform, Getting Started with Arduino provides a great answer to “What is Arduino?”, with history and a full overview of the Arduino hardware and software. Banzi is an expert in interaction design and obviously knows the platform he invented inside and out. You won’t find a lot of advanced programming concepts contained within, but armed with this book, an Arduino board, and some basic electronic parts, you’ll be able to get a thorough introduction to what’s possible in the the microcontroller world. This is the 2nd edition of the book, recently updated for the release of Arduino 1.0.
Snag the book here: Getting Started with Arduino (Make: Projects) (Amazon)
Ready to take your microcontroller skills to the next level? Arduino is a fantastic platform for sensing and data collection projects. For extremely low time and cost investment, you can monitor your home’s energy use, track weather data, record the position of a vehicle or important possession, and more. The question is: once you collect this data, how do you get it from the Arduino back to you?
Increasingly, wireless communications are the answer. Building Wireless Sensor Networks is a top to bottom introduction to low power and low cost wireless using Arduino. Zigbee is a point to point wireless networking protocol that is excellent for creating mesh networks – networks where every device can communicate with every other, and don’t require a central connection point. Xbee is a line of popular radios that use this protocol. The book walks you through setting up a network, exploring the Xbee API and firmware options, and starts you down the road of creating your own wireless projects. Networking is a tricky topic, with lots of obscure settings and tricks to worry about. Armed with this book, you’ll be up and running in no time.
Buy the book here: Building Wireless Sensor Networks (Amazon)
Advanced reader bonus: Arduino + Android Projects for the Evil Genius
The second book on this list by Simon Monk, Arduino + Android Projects is for the hacker who is ready to step into the world of advanced electronics. Once you’ve mastered basic projects, you may want to try your hand at getting your microcontroller projects talking to another mobile device. Maybe you have an idea for an app+sensor prototype and want to test it in the market. Or maybe you want to build amazing robots that are controlled via your phone. If any of this sounds appealing, this book is for you.
Written in an inventive and creative style, the book covers advanced Arduino topics and gives an introduction to the Android Open Application Development Kit (ADK) that allows your phone to talk to external devices via USB. It also discusses wireless methods such as Bluetooth and Wifi. The previously mentioned Building Wireless Sensor Networks will get your Arduino talking over the air, but if you want to interact with projects anywhere using mobile devices, check this one out.
Buy the book here: Arduino + Android Projects for the Evil Genius (Amazon)
Have suggestions for other books to check out? Let us know in the comments. Until next time… get your Arduino reading on!