Arduino Starter Kits.

zophas

Joined Jul 16, 2021
156
I intend to get myself an Arduino Starter Kit because the whole world seems to be playing with them but I am not. So far all the Starter kits I have looked at come with an Arduino compatible. What problems am I likely to encounter if I get a compatible instead of a Genuine Arduino? Thanks.

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
13,554
I intend to get myself an Arduino Starter Kit because the whole world seems to be playing with them but I am not.
I started using Uno a couple years ago to find out what all of the fuss was. You can actually do a lot with them because code has been written for most of the hard stuff, so you just cobble things together.

I still prefer Raspberry Pi ZeroW for most projects. An Uno with WiFi costs $45; ZeroW is$10.
https://store-usa.arduino.cc/products/arduino-uno-wifi-rev2
What problems am I likely to encounter if I get a compatible instead of a Genuine Arduino?
I think you have little risk. I've bought Uno and Mega clones from Ali Express and most of the ones I've used seem to be fine. I think one has a problem with output drive strength (still need to get around to verifying), but it still "works". Some of the clones use a cheaper serial communications chip and you probably need to download a driver. Paying $3-5 instead of$23 for an Uno works for me.

Before you buy a kit, calculate how much it would cost you to purchase the parts you intend to use individually because you may not have a near term use for things a kit might include.

What country are you in? Someone local might be inclined to give you a good price on an assortment of parts that they have on hand.

zophas

Joined Jul 16, 2021
156
I am in South Africa. Importing from US would be a no-no for me due to the exchange rates. I can get kits locally at a reasonable price, with tons of other goodies included to play with. But I can't seem to find any Genuine Arduino's here.

djsfantasi

Joined Apr 11, 2010
7,930
My 2 cents…

I've never had a problem with an Arduino clone. The design is an Open license, which means everyone has access to its specifications and schematics. So the clones tend to be exact copies of a genuine Arduino.

Yaakov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
3,760
I am in South Africa. Importing from US would be a no-no for me due to the exchange rates. I can get kits locally at a reasonable price, with tons of other goodies included to play with. But I can't seem to find any Genuine Arduino's here.
While some clones can be bad, most are completely compatible. You shouldn't have any problem, but if you do you can ask here to help decide if it is the clone's fault.

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
13,554
But I can't seem to find any Genuine Arduino's here.
For what they charge, I wouldn't buy a genuine Arduino. Clones at 10-20% of the price are fine.

I have more problems with bugs in the IDE.

jjw

Yaakov

Joined Jan 27, 2019
3,760
For what they charge, I wouldn't buy a genuine Arduino. Clones at 10-20% of the price are fine.

I have more problems with bugs in the IDE.
Buying from Arduino helps to fund development.

zophas

Joined Jul 16, 2021
156
Ok thanks for the feedback everyone. I'm gonna go with the clone I can get locally. I'll be sure to be back if I can't get my LED's flashing just so.

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
24,641
I have never gotten excited about Arduino. In fact, I have never programmed an Arduino.

What is Arduino?

This is just so that you understand what Arduino is.

Arduino is a microcontroller (MCU) platform based on the Atmel AVR MCU, specifically the ATmega328p.
I had been programming Atmel MCUs long before the Arduino came to be. In fact, I wrote my own AVR assembler and developed many successful applications based on various Atmel MCUs.

Atmel AVR is a fine MCU architecture. It is easy to learn and write programs for it in ASM.
What's wrong with Atmel AVR MCUs?
It is inconvenient to flash the code into the MCU because it uses a Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) mechanism.

What computer do you know that has an SPI port? None.
You can emulate an SPI port using a parallel printer port. Do you know of any computer that has a Centronics Parallel Printer port? None.
You can convert a serial COM port to SPI using another MCU. Today, your only option is to use a USB port.

So what some clever and enterprising folks in Italy did as a university master's thesis, was they wrote a program for the Atmel MCU in order to upload code from the MCU's serial port into its own flash memory. This is called the Bootloader. But first they needed to get the Bootloader into the MCU. Here are the steps.

1) Program an MCU independently to convert from USB to SPI.
2) Use this tool to insert a Bootloader program into an Atmel ATmega328p MCU
3) Use a stand-alone Atmega328 MCU with the installed Bootloader to accept a program via a USB port.

Ok, then they created a software development platform so that users can create an application program (sketch) using a C-like language. They also standardized the PCB footprint so that you can add an external hardware module (shield).

Over the ensuing years the popularity of Arduino has grown so that now there is an extensive collection of software libraries and external hardware available for Arduino. For the most part, system development using the Arduino platform consists of finding the right shields to do the job and cutting and pasting code from prewritten projects and libraries.

By all means, get an Arduino starter kit and take it as far as you want to go. There is also another option (which is not mutually exclusive to Arduino). Take a bare bones ATmega328p chip (or any other MCU) and learn how to program it and utilize it for your own embedded application. Either way, there is much to learn along the way.

If you need help, AAC is to place to be!