Arduino for Biologists: Building scientific instruments using Arduino





Instructors: Ofer Mazor, Pavel Gorelik, Brett Graham

Course description:

The Arduino is a powerful and inexpensive digital microcontrollers that can be used to develop custom lab instruments. Many tasks that used to require a PC or expensive hardware can be put together with an Arduino and tens of dollars worth of parts. Developing microcontroller-based tools allows researchers to automate and scale up aspects of their research that were previously unfeasible.

This nanocourse will cover the basics of programming an Arduino microcontroller and interfacing with sensors and actuators in order to build simple lab instruments. During the lectures, we will explain how a microcontroller works and cover basic topics in electronics and programming. In the homework assignments and hands-on portion of the class, students will learn how to design, build, and debug small projects of their own.

After completing this nanocourse, students should feel comfortable using the Arduino and other electronic parts to build new instruments for their research.


Because of the hands-on nature of the class, enrollment is limited to 20 grad students and postdocs.

Preference will be given to members of the Department of Neurobiology.


Some basic programming experience (e.g., for-loops, if-statements) is required.

Spring 2022 class schedule:

Thu. May 5 (3:30–5pm):  Intro to the Arduino
Thu. May 12 (3:30–5pm):  Basic electronics, sensors and actuators
Thu. May 19 (3:30–5pm):  Programming the Arduino

All classes meet in Warren Alpert 236


A 45 minute video lecture will be assigned prior to each class. Students are expected watch the entire lecture before the class session begins. Classroom time will be devoted to working on in-class assignments.

** Please bring a laptop to all classes or make prior arrangements with the instructors. **

Register for the class here.

See also: Spring, 2022, technique, open