The Arduino simulator you've been looking for! (2023)

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Are you looking for a good Arduino emulator? Want to know what an Arduino simulator is? We get a lot of questions about Arduino simulators and if there's a good simulator out there, stay tuned to find out more!


In this video we will cover:

  • WHAT is an Arduino simulator?
  • WHY you should check them out
  • HOW TO use the popular Arduino simulator called Tinkercad (which is free)

What is an Arduino simulator?

An Arduino simulator is a virtual representation of a real-world Arduino circuit.

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What does it really mean? Let's look at an example. Now, some people have different interpretations of what the famous “Hello World” circuit is. Some say it's your first project where you make a simple blinking LED circuit. others claim it happens when you have an LCD screen that says “Hello world!”

For our purposes, we're just trying to create the simplest circuits, so we're referring to the interpretation where you just have a blinking LED circuit.

So we configured the circuit, programmed the code in the Arduino IDE, loaded it up and now we have a physical LED blinking circuit in the real world. This took about 6 minutes to build.

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Next, we will use the free online Arduino simulator software atTinkerCAD. In about 2 minutes we create the exact same circuit, use the exact same code and after pressing the “start simulation button” we have a virtual version of exactly the same circuit. That's some serious efficiency!

We'll show you exactly how to do this demo at the end of the video.

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Why are simulators so good?

You've already seen how much faster it can be to create things online, so we won't go into that. Here are some other reasons simulators are great:

  1. you can learn howcode and build circuits from anywhere you have a computer and Internet access.
  2. It's much easier to find hardware/wiring errors in the simulator. It can be very difficult to visualize which wires are connected to which pins on a busy board, but if you get it right in the simulator, recreating it in the real world will be much easier.
  3. You can share your design with colleagues for feedback and help with troubleshooting, and the person reviewing your design can see both the hardware side and the coding side of your design at the same time.

How do you use a simulator?

Next, we'll show you exactly how to build the previous flashing LED circuit. first go toTinkerCADand set up an account if you don't already have one. After that you will be in the control panel, here we will be able to see the previous designs or choose to create a new one.

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Once you get to the dashboard, click the "Create New Circuit" button. You will now see the “workspace”, this is where the magic really happens. On the right side you can see where you can click and drop the various items.

One thing to note: you can choose Components > Starters > Arduino and here you can access a bunch of pre-built circuits called assemblies. You can click and drop the “Blink” assembly, which will provide all the necessary components, as well as the code to run the circuit.

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If you click on 'Start Simulation' you will see this circuit working as advertised. So let's create it from scratch. The first thing we want to do is make sure we place components in our project. Type “Arduino” in the side item menu, then click and drop the UNO3.

PRO TIP 1: To move the view, simply click and hold anywhere on the desktop to move it.

Next, let's add a breadboard. After that we will place an LED. Find it in the parts list and carefully place it on the breadboard. You can see where the cathode or anode connects to specific pins on the board.

Another cool thing is that you can click on different components to change their attributes. You can change the colors of the LEDs, the resistance value of the resistors, and the color of the wires, to name a few.

In the end we will turn it on. You don't find wires in the component list, just click on the breadboard or Arduino pins with the left mouse button and a wire is started.

PRO TIP 2: When creating the cables, each time you click you add a “node” to the cable that allows you to keep things well organized. Plus, changing yarn colors can also keep things neat.

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This is how you create the circuit. Let's look at the code. You can see that it comes pre-loaded with a sketch because we previously selected the "Blink" launcher. You can also see that it's in a shape that might look a little unusual."block view". You can tinker with this view if you like, but we generally like to see the code in "text display”which is the same as the official Arduino IDE.

The purpose of this tutorial is not to teach you the code, but to show you the simulator, so let's click on the "Start Simulation" button and there you have it, a working LED circuit that blinks.

PRO TIP 3: Sometimes you start the simulation and then get distracted by something and try to edit the code or hardware. If the simulator is still running, you won't be able to edit anything, and sometimes the only indication that the sketch is still running is the green box that says "Simulation Stopped". If you can't edit anything, make sure the simulation is not running.

Other aspects of TinkerCAD

So you create a very basic blinking LED circuit in TinkerCAD. There are many other really cool things about Tinkercad that we'll explore now.

Go to the main panel by clicking on the TinkerCAD logo in the upper left corner of the screen, then click on the “Learn” tab in the upper right corner of the screen. Then click on the drop down button (which defaults to 3D) and select "Circuits". Here you can choose from several guides and starter courses.

If you select "Projects" and then "Show All Arduino", you can see several projects at the bottom with the green background. All these projects correspond to the initial projects included in the official Arduino.CCstarter kit, which is extremely useful if you have this kit and want to keep track of it.

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If you're just trying to get inspired, learn new skills, or see new things, head over to the Gallery tab. Again, be sure to select “Circuits” and here you can see a variety of community projects.

You can also search for specific projects, which is useful if you're struggling with a specific project and wondering if someone has already created it.

Once you've found a project you like, you can click on it, then "Copy and move" and you'll now be able to explore and edit users' work. You can leave a comment, review the code, and make any changes you want.

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in short

You can see how there are a lot of really useful things in Tinkercad. Not only is it a great place to design circuits, it's also a great place to learn from the community and get inspired.

How do you use the simulator? Do you like to create virtual projects first, do you like to delve directly into the physical world? Let us know in the comments below, we would really appreciate it. Have a wonderful day!


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