Start with Arduino Nano

Guide to the Arduino Nano

The Arduino Nano is a small, complete, and breadboard-friendly board based on the ATmega328 (Arduino Nano 3.x) or ATmega168 (Arduino Nano 2.x). It has more or less the same functionality of the Arduino Duemilanove, but in a different package. It lacks only a DC power jack, and works with a Mini-B USB cable instead of a standard one. 
The microcontroller (an ATmega328) on the Arduino Nano is a physically smaller version of the chip on the USB Arduino boards.

Connecting the Arduino Nano

To connect the Arduino Nano to your computer, you'll need a Mini-B USB cable. 
This USB cable provides power and data to the board. 
When programming the Nano, you must choose "Arduino Nano" from the "Tools > Board" menu in the Arduino IDE.

Input and Output

Each of the 14 digital pins on the Nano can be used as an input or output, using pinMode()digitalWrite(), anddigitalRead()functions. They operate at 5 volts. Each pin can provide or receive a maximum of 40 mA and has an internal pull-up resistor (disconnected by default) of 20-50 kOhms. In addition, some pins have specialized functions:

  • Serial: 0 (RX) and 1 (TX). Used to receive (RX) and transmit (TX) TTL serial data. These pins are connected to the corresponding pins of the FTDI USB-to-TTL Serial chip.
  • External Interrupts: 2 and 3. These pins can be configured to trigger an interrupt on a low value, a rising or falling edge, or a change in value. See the attachInterrupt() function for details.
  • PWM: 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, and 11. Provide 8-bit PWM output with the analogWrite() function.
  • SPI: 10 (SS), 11 (MOSI), 12 (MISO), 13 (SCK). These pins support SPI communication, which, although provided by the underlying hardware, is not currently included in the Arduino language.
  • LED: 13. There is a built-in LED connected to digital pin 13. When the pin is HIGH value, the LED is on, when the pin is LOW, it's off.

The Nano has 8 analog inputs, each of which provide 10 bits of resolution (i.e. 1024 different values). By default they measure from ground to 5 volts, though is it possible to change the upper end of their range using the analogReference() function. Analog pins 6 and 7 cannot be used as digital pins. Additionally, some pins have specialized functionality:

  • I2C: A4 (SDA) and A5 (SCL). Support I2C (TWI) communication using the Wire library.

There are a couple of other pins on the board:

  • AREF. Reference voltage for the analog inputs. Used with analogReference().
  • Reset. Bring this line LOW to reset the microcontroller. Typically used to add a reset button to shields which block the one on the board.

Programming the Arduino Nano

The Arduino Nano can be programmed with the Arduino software (download here). Select "Arduino Diecimila, Duemilanove, or Nano w/ ATmega168" or "Arduino Duemilanove or Nano w/ ATmega328" from the "Tools > Board" menu (according to the microcontroller on your board).

The ATmega168 or ATmega328 on the Arduino Nano comes preburned with a bootloader that allows you to upload new code to it without the use of an external hardware programmer. It communicates using the original STK500 protocol.

You can also bypass the bootloader and program the microcontroller through the ICSP (In-Circuit Serial Programming) header using Arduino ISP or similar.

Installing Drivers for the Nano


The first time you plug a Nano into a Mac, the "Keyboard Setup Assistant" will launch. There's nothing to configure with the Nano, so you can close this dialogue by clicking the red button in the top left of the window.

Keyboard Setup Assistant


If you previously installed Arduino IDE, you already have drivers installed.

If you haven't yet installed Arduino IDE, download the Windows version of the Arduino software from the official pagehere
When the download finishes, launch the file to install the software and the drivers.

If you downloaded the .zip version of the IDE, unzip the downloaded file. Make sure to preserve the folder structure. 
Now your drivers will be downloaded and installed from Internet, directly from Windows. 
If you have issues, you can find the "drivers" folder inside the unzipped file, for manual installation.


There is no need to install drivers for Ubuntu 10.0.4

In some computers, you need to setup user permissions and some udev rules. 
You can find detailed informations on how to achieve this at this page.

Uploading Code to the Nano

In general, you upload code to the Nano as you would with the Uno or other Arduino boards. Click the upload button in the Arduino IDE and your sketch will be automatically uploaded onto the board and then started. This works more or less the same way as with the Uno: the Arduino software initiates a reset of the board, launching the bootloader - which is responsible for receiving, storing, and starting the new sketch.

However, because the serial port is virtual, it disappears when the board resets, the Arduino software uses a different strategy for timing the upload than with the Uno and other boards. In particular, after initiating the auto-reset of the Nano (using the serial port selected in the Tools > Serial Port menu), the Arduino software waits for a new virtual (CDC) serial / COM port to appear - one that it assumes represents the bootloader. It then performs the upload on this newly-appeared port.

These differences affect the way you use the physical reset button to perform an upload if the auto-reset isn't working. Press and hold the reset button on the Nano , then hit the upload button in the Arduino software. Only release the reset button after you see the message "Uploading..." appear in the software's status bar. When you do so, the bootloader will start, creating a new virtual (CDC) serial port on the computer. The software will see that port appear and perform the upload using it. Again, this is only necessary if the normal upload process (i.e. just pressing the uploading button) doesn't work. (Note that the auto-reset is initiated when the computer opens the serial port at 1200 baud and then closes it; this won't work if something interferes with the board's USB communication - e.g. disabling interrupts.)