Arduino for (Neuro)Biologists: Building simple scientific instruments using Arduino microcontrollers

Arduino for (Neuro)Biologists: Building simple scientific instruments using Arduino microcontrollers

Nanocourse Director: John Assad

Instructors:Ofer Mazor, Joe Bell, Pavel Gorelik

Curriculum Fellows: Catherine Dubreuil and Melanie Stefan


Course description:

The past few years have seen the rise of powerful but low-cost 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 tens of dollars worth of parts. This has allowed researchers to automate and scale up aspects of their research that were previously infeasible.

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 lecture portion of the class, we will explain how a microcontroller works and teach some basic electronics and programming skills. In the homework assignments and hands-on portion of the class, we will go over the practical aspects of designing, building, and debugging small projects.

After completing this nancourse, students should feel comfortable experimenting with the Arduino and other electronics in order to build new instruments for their research.


Because of the hands-on nature of the class, enrollment is limited to 10 grad students and postdocs. No auditing. Please indicate your program or department on the signup form.


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


2014 Class schedule:

Wed. May 7 (4–6pm): Intro to the Arduino

Fri. May 9 (4–6pm): Basic electronics, sensors and actuators

Wed. May 14 (4–6pm): Programming the Arduino and advanced topics


All classes meet in Goldenson 229

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