Most of your projects will be powered by a small, programmable board called a microcontroller. You'll also need a computer that can run Arduino software (see Getting Started).

Every project lists its specific parts, but below are the basics you'll need for most projects.


Microcontrollers are the generic name for the tiny computers that you'll program. They can be as big as an envelope or as small as your thumb nail. Arduino is a famous brand, but you can also find cheaper versions such as the RedBoard and the Uno. Fancy versions come with built-in extras like WiFi, but you'll only need a basic board for the projects on this website.

You'll also need a USB cable to plug your board into your computer. These usually come with the board.

Solderless Breadboard

Solderless breadboards are an easy way to make temporary electrical connections without heat (soldering). You can plug wires into small square holes and rearrange them as often as you want. Most projects on this site will fit easily onto a half-size breadboard.

Underneath the plastic grid, strips of conductive material allow current to flow through the components on your breadboard. Learn more about how solderless breadboards work in Project One.

Jumper wires

You'll use wires to connect components on your breadboard such as LEDs, motors, and resistors. Mostly you'll need pin/pin cables (sometimes called male/male cables), but Project Two requires pin/socket cables (sometimes called male/female cables). You can also use insulated wire with stripped ends instead of dedicated pin/pin cables.

The colors of your wires won't affect your circuit, but it's easier to use a variety of colors to help distinguish the different parts of your circuit.


Most of your projects will get their power supply from being plugged into your computer. However, a few of the projects need special batteries so they're portable; others need 9V batteries to power a motor. Project Five needs a 9V battery, while e-textile projects can use either plug-in lithium batteries or coin cell batteries with sewable holders.

Breadboard Components

Breadboard components are the fun stuff: lights, sensors, resistors, motors, and speakers, as well as other functional circuit parts like resistors, capacitors, and transistors. Projects 1-6 use parts that come in most standard microcontroller kits. Check the "You Will Need" section of a particular project to see what parts you'll need.


Many microcontrollers are sold as part of a kit with breadboards, jumper wires, and circuit components. If you're not sure where to start or what type of projects you want to work on, kits offer a convenient way to try out a variety of breadboard components. Aside from e-textile projects, most projects on this website can be made with the contents of a standard microcontroller kit.