A complete list of tools and components typically found in a prototyping lab. These provide a foundation for prototyping. Not all required, but the more the better!


  • Arduino IDE: The open-source Arduino environment makes it easy to write code and upload it to the i/o board. It runs on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux. The environment is written in Java and based on Processing, avr-gcc, and other open source software.
  • MaxMSP: Use Max to make your own music, sound, video, and interactive media applications. You arrange boxes on a canvas and connect them together to create, experiment, and play.
  • Ableton Live: Your standard DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) except with Ableton’s unique Session View: a sketchpad for improvising, playing and performing with musical ideas, without the constraints of the timeline. Freely and independently start and stop any number of audio or MIDI loops - everything stays in sync.

Electronic Components

A good idea may be to start with a Kit. There are many options. Try Arduino's website, Sparkfun, Adafruit, or Ebay. You can also choose to buy components seperately from various suppliers.

Here is a visual list of the some components typically found in a prototyping lab, with descriptions below.


  • Kit: This basic kit will have most of what a beginner would need.


  • Arduino Uno - R3: This is the standard Arduino microcontroller. It has 14 digital input/outpin pins (of which 6 can be used as PWM outputs) and 6 analog inputs. Simply connect it to a computer with a USB cable or power it with a AC-to-DC adapter or battery to get started.

    Great for beginners.

  • Arduino Mega 2560 - R3: It has 54 digital input/output pins (of which 15 can be used as PWM outputs), 16 analog inputs, and 4 UARTs (hardware serial ports).

    For more involved projects (including the infraHarp project).

  • Breadboard Half-size, Full-size: Solderless breadboards are the "base" for prototyping. Simply plug your components into the holes of the breadboard.


  • Musical Instrument Shield: The Musical Instrument Shield is an easy way to add great sounding MIDI sound to your next Arduino project. The VS1053 contains two large tonebanks including various piano, woodwinds, brass, synth, SFX and percussion sounds.

    For reference on using the MIS check out Sparkfun's quickstart guide.

  • MP3 Player Shield: With this shield you can pull MP3 files from an microSD card and play them using only one shield, effectively turning any Arduino into a fully functional stand-alone MP3 player.
  • Spectrum Shield: This shield can be used to create sound visualizers, detect patterns in music or add sound activation to your microcontroller projects.


  • Light Emitting Diode: 5mm.

    LEDs also come in 3mm, 10mm, and 7-segment, though 5mm is the go-to size for prototyping.


  • Potentiometer (10k): A potentiometer is a simple knob that provides a variable resistance, which you can read into the Arduino board as an analog value.

    This pot (as they're called) has a ¼" mounting diameter, which will come in handy for the infraHarp project's finished version.

  • SoftPot Potentiometer: By pressing down on various parts of the strip, the resistance linearly changes.
  • Ifrared Emitter Detector Pair: Any microcontroller will allow variable readings to be collected from the detector.


  • NPN : Transistors can help in your project by being used to help drive large loads or amplifying or switching applications.


Through-Hole Resistors

  • Resistor Kit (500): Resistors are crucial in a lot of circuit design. Stock up.


  • Jumper Wires (M/M): Male-to-male jumper wires are a necessity for prototyping. Plug your Arduion into the breadboard and start making!
  • Piezo Buzzer: Tiny speaker you can use to create simple music or user interfaces.

  • Handmade Electronic Music: The Art of Hawrdware Hacking (book): With a sense of adventure and no prior knowledge, the reader can subvert the intentions designed into devices such as radios and toys to discover a new sonic world.

Electronic Protoyping Tools



Tools & Instruments: