Smiley Micros: An Arduino Workshop: Book and Projects Kit

I ordered a Smiley Micros Arduino Workshop book and Projects Kit a few weeks ago. I'm based in the UK and Smiley Micros are in the US and I paid via PayPal so I expected it to take some time for it to arrive. The PayPal payment took the best part of a week but after that I received an email saying my kit was dispatched and 6 days later it arrived. Thank you Smiley Micros, US Postal Service and Parcel Force.

The kit arrived in a substantial box a little bigger than A4 size and around 2" thick. You get the book (An Arduino Workshop), a genuine Arduino ATMega 328P board, a breadboard for development, a box with loads of wired connectors and a bag of loads of bits (see the Smiley Micros website) for parts. You don't get a USB connector, a small squarish USB lead often found on external USB disks or printers (I think they are called "A plug to B plug"). Fortunately I had one lying around. You do need one of these to program the Arduino.

I'm not one of those people who reads instructions from front to back before diving in (sometimes to my detriment) so after reading the interesting first 2 chapters I dived in. I did check Smiley Micros for the referenced errata but I could not find it. I connected the Arduino board to my laptop via the USB cable and saw it power up with the green PWR light on and the orange onboard LED flashing like mad. Windows XP then threw the new hardware wizard and I just followed this through installing the drivers. In the meantime I visited www.arduino.cc and downloaded version 0021 (the latest) of the software even though the book is based on version 0015.

The Arduino software is around 85Mb and I unzipped this into c: There is no install that I saw and hence the book references to clicking on a desktop item do not apply. Instead I changed into c:\arduino-0021 and double clicked arduino.exe. This is a Java app so you need Java runtime environment already installed.

Now to the Arduino Quick Start Guide. This does not give any advice on connecting up the Arduino board to your PC but once the Arduino software is started there is a Help -> Getting Started which I recommend you read as it short circuits some of the issues I had. Firstly, the menu item under Tools -> board -> Arduino Duemilanove w/ATmega328 did not exist and I picked Arduino Duemilanove or nano w/ATmega328. Secondly the example File -> Sketchbook to File -> Examples and the Digital -> Blink example does not exist but the Digital -> BlinkWithoutDelay does. Thirdly on hitting compile/verify it worked but hitting upload failed. I ended up changing Tools -> Serial Port from COM3 to COM12. Later I read from the "Getting Started" guide:

"Select the serial device of the Arduino board from the Tools | Serial Port menu. This is likely to be COM3 or higher (COM1 and COM2 are usually reserved for hardware serial ports). To find out, you can disconnect your Arduino board and re-open the menu; the entry that disappears should be the Arduino board. Reconnect the board and select that serial port."

Arduino board

That is as far as I got with my first hour so I'll update this later when I've got further.