Arduino for Neurobiologists: Building simple scientific instruments using Arduino microcontrollers

Nanocourse Director: John Assad

Instructors: Ofer Mazor, Joe Bell, Pavel Gorelik

Curriculum Fellow: Melanie Stefan


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 nancourse, students should feel comfortable experimenting with the Arduino and other electronic parts 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.

Preference will be given to enrollees with an interest in neurobiology.



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


Fall 2014 Class schedule:

Wed. Dec. 3 (4–6pm): Intro to the Arduino

Fri. Dec. 5 (4–6pm): Basic electronics, sensors and actuators

Mon. Dec. 8 (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. **