Getting Started

Installing Firmware

When a sketch and any plugins are ready, you can compile and flash the firmware. The process is similar to flashing the firmware on an Android device, the only difference being that you have full control of the process by default.

You can flash firmware either from the IDE or a command line. Within the IDE, open the sketch and select Sketch | Upload. From the command line, switch to the directory that contains the sketch to install and enter make flash. In both cases, the IDE compiles the firmware and often pauses before installing (Figure 4). This pause is to give you time to prepare, usually by pressing the reset button on the Arduino board, so that the bootload is bypassed for the firmware installation. On devices that run off an Arduino, like the Keyboardio Model 01, there may be a button to press, so that you do not have to unscrew the case to reset (Figure 5). While the firmware is flashed, LED lights will blink to show that the operation is happening. When the blinking stops and the process completes, unplug the board or the device and restart it. If the new firmware does not run the device properly, edit the firmware and try again. In a worst case scenario, you can restore an archived sketch that you know will work.

Figure 4: Before installing new firmware, the IDE compiles the source code.
Figure 5: Installing the compiled firmware from the command line.

Next Steps

This article is a brief overview of working with Arduino technology. For any specific device, there may be additional steps required. Fortunately, the popularity of Arduino boards means that there is no shortage of additional, specialized resources. Begin with the Arduino Documentation [5] and branch out to other web resources, as well as the books available on Amazon. Just remember that Arduino technology is constantly evolving, so get the most recently written help available. Remember, too, that what is true of one board may not be true of others. You might want to buy a kit with detailed instructions to help familiarize yourself with some of the possibilities.

And if all the possibilities are too confusing, don't worry. One of the strengths of Arduino technology is its flexibility. Even without become an in-depth expert, you can still use Arduino technology to customize and improve devices to a far greater extent than you might imagine.

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