Physical computing has grown over the past decade leading to diverse experiences and tools for novices. Despite the variety of tools, Arduinos remain a leading choice in education. However, few studies examine how novices are learning about the programming and electronics concepts, and how tools impact their experience. The research presented reports on the qualitative analysis of a laboratory study in which 31 novices work with the Arduino for the first time. Video and audio recordings captured participants’ actions and thoughts as they used the Arduino platform with a blocks-based programming environment, and two electronics prototyping tools—the standard Breadboard and a modular breadboard called BitBlox. The study presents three main contributions to the literature: first, it provides a codebook of the common breakdowns faced by novices; second, it offers insight into the work processes of novices; and third, it demonstrates ways that the tools used by novices can affect their experience.