Programming question ?

Hello all, I am new to the forums and also new to programming Micros. I have been doing a lot of reading trying to figure out the best approach to take but haven't found anything to help make my ming up. Let me give you a little of my background and hopefully someone out there in Arduino land might be able to give me some advise.

First of all I am 59 years old and have never had any experience in embedded programming at all. I have had some basic experience with the old BASIC language on a PC. The electronic part of the hobby should be a little easier for me because I have worked in the field of electronics my whole life, but I am no means an expert. I started getting interested in embedded programming about 4 years ago, and started to learn C. Never did get proficient in the language because I had a stroke shortly after I started learning. Long story short, I am back on my feet and have started back at my hobbies again only to find out about Arduino.

Now my question to anyone that could give me some honest advise is this........ Which would be easier to learn ? Arduino or embedded C ? If I am correct in thinking that Arduino is nothing more than C with all the teedious code put into functions, so a lot of the work and learning is built into the IDE with built in functions. Is this correct or am I on the wrong track ? I am looking for the easiest way to learn and do projects because lets face it, at my age and with my health history, I am never going to be a programmer for anything but just a hobby so I don't need to know the best of the best programming to be a programmer. I am not ever going to be one.

So which is the best way to go for someone in my shoes? Arduino and the Arduino IDE or learn Embedded C for the Atmel AVR's ? Which would be more productive and faster to realize some accomplishments?

Thank you for taking the time to read this and hopefully have some advise for me.


Arduino is just a layer of functionality. The underneath is a gcc compiler which supports C, C++ and inline ASM.
I would recommend using Arduino as it allows you to accomplish things with little understanding of C. There are loads of libraries for all sorts of hardware, reading them can help you lean C/C++ concepts. Also this forum has plenty of archived answers.

I personally didn't even care for micro-controllers until I found Arduino, which gave me a super easy way to start.

Thank you pYro_65 for your reply. So if I am reading correctly you never enjoyed embedded programming until you met the Arduino. That is very encouraging on my part. So if I go with the Arduino, where can I find a book that teaches the syntax for Arduino? I have seen a lot of project books on the web for arduino but nothing for just the programming syntax. I am one of those people that has to read about something to understand it. Yes, I know that you learn by doing but I want to read and learn the syntax while I am waiting for the Arduino to arrive.

Again, thank you so much for your suggestions and opinion.


Due to the ‘complexity’ that I saw with PIC’s and other things I had not attempted to try. I had only ever had experience with analog circuits. And one day I bought a radar off e-bay and had no idea how to use it. The datasheet kept mentioning MPU, which I searched and found Arduino. Then I managed to get a Mega2560 off e-bay for $28 and I was introduced to digital electronics.

I’m already comfortable with C++ so I was able to understand the tutorials fairly easily.

Here is a nice C++ FAQ

Also visit the links on the home page, the ‘Getting Started’, ‘Learning’, and ‘Reference’ tabs have the Arduino specific tutorials and code reference

The community library collection and code samples are here

Thanks so much for the link, I will go and check it out.


Thanks again, just what I was looking for.

I forgot where I found this reference and I don’t see a copyright within it so appologies if it wasn’t meant to be public.

With that said you may find this a pretty good starting point -

So which is the best way to go for someone in my shoes? Arduino and the Arduino IDE or learn Embedded C for the Atmel AVR's ? Which would be more productive and faster to realize some accomplishments?

I would certainly recommend the Arduino IDE. The language used by the IDE is C++, and it uses the g++ compiler, both industry standards. However the nice thing about the Arduino IDE is that the inbuilt libraries hide a lot of the tedium from you, so you can concentrate on what you really want do do (eg. if a switch is pressed, turn on a light).

There are a LOT of examples here on this forum web site, plus for specific projects a quick Google search is likely to reveal someone that has done something similar already.

I don't want to sledge other development environments, but suffice to say that a lot of them (the ones I've tried at least) have lengthy and complex set-up requirements. That might be fine if are working on a big project, but for the small, fun things you do on the Arduino, the IDE is absolutely fine.

Thanks to all for their insight, suggestions, and guidence, I really do appreciate it. Arduino it is ! I will order a Arduino Uno this week and get start playing. I really don't have a project in mind to start off with but eventually I would like to make a MP3 player that is controlled by a remote. But for now that is way out of my league but I may learn on the way thru the websites and literature that has been suggested.

I must also comment on the friendliness of this forum. I never expected to get all the replies and suggestions that I recieved. I can not thank all of you enough for all that you did to help me get started. I can tell you one thing, I have found a home here on the forum and you will all here from me about my progress as time goes on.

Thank you so much for everything.