Project Home

First Bytes and Code Longhorn

Projects Illuminate and LightCraft



Welcome! This is the website for the lab projects for First Bytes and Code Longhorn, two of the summer camps offered by Texas Computer Science.

In lab, we will use the Arduino Uno to control color-changing LED lights. These lights are individually addressable, which means that we can control each one separately.

This week, you will learn to use the Arduino board to create patterns in the lights, and ultimately, you will design a project that showcases your patterns. At the end of the week, we will have a project showcase where you can show off your creation and compete for prizes.

For more information about the showcase, please review the showcase guidelines.


The Arduino Uno programming environment uses the Arduino programming language, which is based on C/C++, so first everyone must complete the C++ tutorial. This tutorial covers only the aspects of C++ you'll need for this project. Additionally, we'll using the Linux Operating System, which is new to many of you, and so the C++ tutorial includes information about how to get started in this environment.

Most of the tutorial and all programming for the project must be completed using Pair (or Group) Programming. Your log must be submitted with the rest of your materials at the end of camp.

Once you are familiar with the aspects of C++ used in this project, you will begin working with your lights and Arduino board. Once all of your group members are finished with the C++ tutorial, you will want to decide as a group whether you want to create your project using Project Illuminate (an array of 25 lights) or Project LightCraft (a two-dimensional array of strands with seven lights). One isn't better than the other---it just depends on what you have in mind!

Getting Started
C++ Tutorial
Programming in Linux
Compiling and Executing Programs from the Command Line

Project Illuminate Guide
Getting Started with Arduino
Connecting the Lights
Controlling the Lights
Basic Patterns

Project LightCraft Guide
Getting Started with Arduino
Connecting the Lights
Controlling the Lights
Basic Patterns

Project Resources
Project Starters
List of FastLED colors
Editing Music in the Lab
Showcase Guidelines

Troubleshooting and Bug Fixes

After Camp Resources
Instructions to Make Your Own Arduino and Light Set (Project Illuminate only)
Download Our Framework (also Project Illuminate)


This lab has been created and mainted by myself and Clare Coleman, with appreciation to Ashley Oudenne for her contributions to the tutorial. Please let either Clare or me know if you have any questions! My contact information is on my main page, and Clare's email address is: ccoleman@cs.utexas.edu

Acknowledgments: Special thanks to the people at FastLED who provided the library on which this project is based.