A series of tutorials for beginners
Learn how to use Node-RED
Node-RED is a lightweight graphical programming tool.
It works great on the Raspberry Pi, and supports MQTT, HTTP requests and websockets so that you can create graphical programs that integrate virtually any hardware and software resource you can think of.
Want to learn how to use Node-RED? You are at the right place.
We'll provide you with quality educational content, projects and support.
Quality educational Content
Learning from the best available sources can make a huge difference in how quickly and how well you can master whatever it is that you want to learn. Excellent educational sources will not only teach you well and fast; they will also delight you.
Be an Active Learner
Technology education is hands-on.
The only way to truly learn something new is by executing your own simple experiments.
Each experiment is an opportunity to learn a new skill, capability, tool, or feature.
Work on Realistic Projects
Once you have acquire a few new skills, how can you consolidate your knowledge so that you can create a fully working machine, like a robot or a plant incubator? Project work is your opportunity to bring together everything you learned into a single activity.
Why learn how to use Node-RED?
Node-RED is used by Makers and professionals in a range of settings. Makers use it to create home automation applications and organizations use it in the industry use it to automate factory floors, among many other possibilities.
Node Red is very good in enabling hardware devices, small and large, APIs, and all kinds of online services to work together.
I found that its learning curve was relatively gentle, and once I got my head around how flows are assembled, configured and executed, I was able to quickly create prototypes.
Because Node Red is lightweight, it runs perfectly well on any Raspberry Pi, even the original. In this project, I used an old Raspberry Pi 2 that I had forgotten in one of my drawers. I encountered no issues at all installing the new Raspberry Pi OS.
Node Red actually comes with the Raspberry Pi OS, so you don’t even need to install it.
Node Red is designed to be light on resources, so that it can be used on low-power computers. It is also designed to work well with MQTT, a transport system that, like Node Red, is very light on resources.
The free guides (see links below) and our comprehensive Node-RED project course will teach you the following in a practical, hands-on way:
Getting Started with Node-RED
These tutorials are perfect for intermediate-level makers who wish to use Node-RED in their projects.
Ready to start learning?
Introduction to Node-RED: examples and documentation
The Guides in this series are dedicated to Node-RED.
Learn about Node-RED, understand what you can do with it with the help of examples, how to install it, and how to use some of the basic nodes that come with it.
Install Node-RED on the Raspberry Pi
Node-RED comes already installed in the Raspberry Pi operating system.
Nevertheless, installing a fresh copy is easy, and you get the benefit of working with the latest and greatest version of the tool.
The Node-RED service has a configuration file.
In this file, you can set various configuration options and customize your Node-RED installation to better suit your needs.
Learn about some of the most important nodes, have a look at their properties, learn how to configure them and learn how to install third-party nodes that are available in the Node-RED library.
Nodes, on their own, are not very useful.
For them to be useful, they must to be connected and configured inside flows.
Node-RED Messages and Variables
Messages and variables are provide a mechanism by which nodes can pass data to each other and around the Node-RED flow.
Node-RED, the "complete" node
Learn about the "complete" node and how to use in your flow to trigger an action.
Node-RED, the "catch" node
With the "catch" node, your flow can catch errors thrown by any node that belongs to the same flow.
Node-RED, the "link out" and "link in" nodes
With the "link in" and "link out" nodes, you can connect and exchange data between nodes that belong to different flows.
Node-RED, the "switch" node
Learn about the "complete" node and how to use in your flow to trigger an action.
Node-RED, the "range" node
The "range" node takes in a number, which belongs to a particular scale range, and converts it to a new number that belongs to a different range.
Node-RED, the "delay" node
The "delay" node does two things: (1) It allows you to delay a message by an arbitrary amount of time and (2) to limit the rate of messages that are passing through it.
Node-RED, the "trigger" node
With the "trigger" node, you can repeat a message at an arbitrary period.
"RBE" stands for "Report by Exception".
This node will will only pass changes to its output.
Other articles and links to resources about Node-RED
Here are some of our favorite articles and resources that relate to Node-RED:
A Raspberry Pi/ESP32/Node-Red terrarium controller
Nodered.org, the home of node-RED.
Creating apps with the Node-RED Starter from IBM
Node-RED on Wikipedia
Node-RED source on GitHub
How IBM's Node-RED is hacking together the internet of things
Node-RED and ESP32 project course:
Make a terrarium controller
This course will guide you through the construction of an automated control system. The deliverable is a Terrarium controller.
Node-RED and ESP32 project course
Why learn Node-RED with this course?
With our video courses, it's like having a tutor showing you how to create circuits and write programs, one step at a time.
If you need help, all you have to do is use our Questions & Answers tool to ask your questions, available in each lecture.
Learn in a calm, distraction-free environment. No advertisements, no cat and dog videos to break your concentration. Just learning.
Let's make something together
Hi, I’m Peter.
I am an online educator and Maker, author of Maker Education Revolution, KiCad Like a Pro, and founder at Tech Explorations.
I create all the content on the Tech Explorations website.
Why? Because, as I already mentioned, I'm an educator and a Maker, and I have a Mission.
My mission is to help people learn electronics, programming, printed circuit board design, and lots more. Most importantly, I want to help as many people as possible to enjoy their technology education adventures.
After a 15 year career as a University Lecturer, I decided to become a Maker, again. Like most of us, as a child, I was curious, and I learned how things worked by experimenting with them (usually, this meant taking them apart and hoping to not loose any screws as I was putting things back together).
Growing up, I became an Engineer, only to loose my childish curiosity in the name of pursuing a career.
I became a child again once I got my first Arduino. With it, I started creating thing, tinkering with components, testing ideas. Even though I was a "career educator", it was only now that I realized how wrong my last 15 years of education had been. I was partly responsible for destroying the creativity of thousands of students, just like mine had been destroyed in the name of being a "proper adult".
At Tech Explorations, my job is to learn and to create. I learn what I am curious about, and I create educational content. This content is the record of my learning.
I don't create this content to teach "students". I create it to help learners learn things that they want to learn.
At the end of the day, we are all learners, and we learn from each other.
I sincerely hope that through the content I create at Tech Explorations, as many people as possible will be inspired to re-kindle their childhood curiosity, learn, and create amazing things.
Learning is social
The Internet has brought a revolution in publishing and learning. It is the biggest repository of knowledge that has ever existed, and it is getting exponentially bigger. For anything you want to learn, there's a good chance that someone has written a blog post or created a video about it.
Perfect! Well, not exactly. While there is a lot of great content out there, much of what is available on the Internet lacks quality, and most important, lacks the human connection.
The best learning is social. When you communicate with others that have been where you are now, you learn faster and better. You have someone to fall back when you need help, or discuss an idea when you are stuck.
At Tech Explorations, we support our students through our community tools because we know that this is the best way to learn and teach.
Helping is part of learning
Learning new skills and technologies is a journey into uncharted territory. It is much better if you have a map, and even better if you can "radio in" for help.
At Tech Explorations, we have made a big investment in our communication tools to make sure that no student is left behind. We have three levels of Support: Community Discussion Forums for each course, lecture-level Questions and Answers tool, and a Help Desk.
Our content is live and monitored by our team so that we can respond to student questions quickly. Speed is important because learning obstacles can have a devastating effect in our learning process, so we try our best to help our students smash through them.
Stay Calm And Keep Learning
The world and the Internet are extremely noisy places. Many "free" earning resources operate more like noisy open-air bazaars, with annoying distractions that aim to stop you from doing what you want to do (to learn something new) so that you can click on the next video (often about a cat doing a funny trick).
The loss of concentration alone accumulates to many hundreds of hours of lost learning productivity per learner per year.
Would you be able to learn how to program the Arduino in the food court of a shopping center? In a way, that's what many of us are doing.
At Tech Exploration, we have created a calm environment that is appropriate for immersive learning. Concentrate, turn off your mobile phone, start the lecture video, and follow on with the experiment.
That's all. Nothing else should compete for your attention.
The Path Forward
In this page we have given you lots of free and quality learning content, opportunities for hands on experimentation, and even larger projects that you can use to consolidate your learning. All that in a calm, learner-friendly environment.
A question I get a lot is "What should I do next?"
People that have just learned a new skill, like how to make an LED blink or spin a motor, are often overwhelmed. They have just grasp something new, but are having a hard time figuring out what is next.
It is totally understandable, and I have been there myself. In fact, I feel like that every time I learn a new thing, isolated from its possibilities.
Think about this: you just learned how to spin a motor. How can you build a robot out of that? What is the process of going from a single working component, to a system that brings together many components, into a working gadget?
The best answer I can give to this question is this simple process, plus a lot of perseverance (you need it when you decide to pursue something important):
- You need a project that excites you. This project gives you a goal, and even a path (although the path is not clear in the beginning). Think about what the project is about, and especially what it is supposed to do. This ("what is it supposed to do") is what gives you your project goal. You will need this for step 5 of this process.
- You need to analyse your project and break it down to its components. A robot is made of motors, motor controllers and microcontrollers, sensors, software, and a frame to hold everything together. Figure out what are main components in your project.
- Based on you analysis, figure out your level of knowledge in relation to the project components. You may have a good grasp of motors but lacking in sensor.
- Plan your prototyping process. This part of the process is critical, because you have to make several decision, that involve the hardware, software, and assembly of the gadget, but also the learning that you have to engage in in order to make this possible. You don't need to know everything before you begin, but you need to choose a place to begin. If you were to build a wheeled robot, for example, you could start with the wheel and motor assembly so that your robot can move, and leave the sensors for later. Why? Because you know how to use motors now. You can learn how to use sensors later. Like so many things in life, beginning is half of everything you do. The first iteration will give you the momentum and confidence you need to go for the second, third, until the last iteration.
- Repeat until the project is complete. The iterative process of prototyping is your guide. Each iteration solves problems and creates new ones. The new problems usually demand that you learn something new. Go on, learn it, and come back to continue with the current iteration. The project is complete when you have achieved the goal that you set in step 1. But here's the catch: In prototyping, like in life, everything is fluid. Your original goal was based on early assumptions of what you wanted to achieve, before you had actually done any work towards that goal. In the process of working towards your goal, the goal changes! Be mindful of that, and know that it is Ok. Enjoy the process, and the achievement of the result.
This is the process that I follow with my projects, including my books and my courses. Over time, you will become better at picking projects and especially analysing them so that what you eventually create is very close to your original goal.
The only way to build up your project management and gadget building skills is to do it.
And we are here to help you 🙂
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