Which Ardunio that is expandable for Beginner?

Discussion in 'Embedded Systems and Microcontrollers' started by Deve, Jan 5, 2016.

  1. Deve

    Thread Starter Member

    Dec 28, 2015
    I am reviewing my electronics training and want to get a few updated tools for the job. I have very little knowledge on what an Ardunio even is, but feel I need to learn. I will learn fast so what is a good starter kit to begin with? Ebay has TONS of them and I have no idea what is good. I do not like spending good money and then a few days later, learning I have outgrown it and should have gotten a more deluxe kit to start with. I use Intel based processors and Windows computers. Thanks!
  2. JohnInTX


    Jun 26, 2012
    A good source for Arduino is Sparkfun, AdaFruit, RadioShack (if you can find one). I would avoid eBay since there is just a lot of junk, sketchy clones and some outright fraudulent stuff there. When you are a beginner, you want to be confident that the problems you'll inevitably encounter are yours, not because of some cheap Chinese knockoff.

    FWIW, Arduino is a basic microcontroller that comes with an extensive development environment that insulates new programmers from the nuts and bolts of uC hardware. Its a great way to get started in embedded stuff and you can actually build real systems with it. The upside is that you can get going and be productive quickly. The downside is that you have to do things in the Arduino way and with that hardware. If you want to go into production its going to be more expensive than other options.

    I've only dabbled in Arduino but my general rule is when exploring any new system is don't get the cheap, stripped down one. At the least, get one that has connectivity for the shields and stuff that you are interested in. It costs what it costs. But if you buy cheap and run out of capability, whatever you paid is down the drain. I'd rather pay for capability that I can grow into than going cheap.

    Just my .04 (because I always spend what it takes :) )
    Have fun!
  3. Deve

    Thread Starter Member

    Dec 28, 2015
    I totally agree with all of the above. But what model number, what revision, etc. There are hundreds of variations out there.
  4. JohnInTX


    Jun 26, 2012
    I went with the mega. The UNO is a little cheaper but the mega has much more I/O, is faster and has more memory. As a beginner, you would probably run out of ideas before you ran out of resources. If you don't already have prototype boards etc, consider one of the Inventor's Kits. You can probably get some of the contents cheaper elsewhere but at least its all in one bag.

    Take a look at similar offerings from AdaFruit. They have Uno and Mega as well with some different offerings. At this point, a Mega from either would do the trick. Download the IDE and have at it.

    We have some Arduino guys here. Give it a bit and see what they say as well.
  5. dannyf

    Well-Known Member

    Sep 13, 2015
    I would get the Leonardo for the chips analog capabilities.
  6. sailorjoe


    Jun 4, 2013
    I had a lot of good luck with this kit. It's available on Amazon. A bit less expensive than other kits, but everything you need to start learning. It has a nice little instruction booklet, and a handy mounting tray for the Arduino Uno and the protoboard.
    JohnInTX likes this.
  7. mcgyvr

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 15, 2009
    Any of the boards will get you started..
    It all comes down to what you want to do with it that would determine which board you really need...

    Either the Uno or Mega would be a great place to start.. Personally for a beginner I'd avoid any of the "newer" boards that are 3.3V tolerant only
    absf, djsfantasi and JohnInTX like this.
  8. shteii01

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 19, 2010
    Sorry John. But you get a FAIL.
    Arduino is an organization and a platform. The organization sells a board that uses ATmel microcontroller and provides the software to talk to the board, load code, etc.

    To OP. The simplest is to buy Arduino Uno. A clone version of Arduino Uno is something like 9 dollars: https://www.fasttech.com/product/1001700-arduino-compatible-uno-r3-rev3-development-board
    Then download the software from Arduino website and follow their instructions on how to install it.
    You might want to get 9 to 12 VDC/800-1000 mA wall adapter to power your Arduino board. You can also power it with the USB from your computer, but if you attach a bunch of stuff to the board, the 5 VDC/200 mA? that USB provides is not enough, that is why you want external power supply like a wall adapter. The specs for the wall adapter are on Arduino Uno website.
    The software environment is C-like, meaning the language that they use is like C, but not exactly... Read the Arduino website, they explain the functions, give code examples.
    The tutorials on the Arduino website also get you started with using simple stuff like LED, push buttons, some sensors.

    Once you want to do more serious stuff, check out Arduino Playground website.
  9. JohnInTX


    Jun 26, 2012
    Seriously? Not real sure why identifying sources from which to buy Arduino is a fail, regardless of whether I pointed out the distinction between the name as an organization and real hardware. And, yes, I do know what chip it uses...
    But thanks for the other info.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2016
  10. MikeML

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 2, 2009
    Any Arduino is expandable. If you run out of pins, speed, program space, etc. , you just buy a bigger one. I would buy just the minimum to get the job done.

    I like the mini version of the Uno. It is cheap enough to become the guts of even simple projects.
    Last edited: Jan 6, 2016
    absf and JohnInTX like this.
  11. Austin Clark

    Active Member

    Dec 28, 2011
    I wouldn't say "FAIL", but perhaps not quite the best explanation. Very thankful for your willingness to help, however.

    First off, the Arduino "Clones" aren't all that bad. In fact, I'd say over 90% are good, and basically all of them will work. Arduino's are open hardware, so clones are super easy to make. That's why many 3rd party clones are completely identical, and functionally no better/worse than the official offering. I like to think that you buy official Arduino hardware for other reasons, not just the quality boards. You pay for further development, etc; Buy official if you can. If not, don't worry about it. (As a side note, there are a few non-official Arduino boards that are BETTER than the original. Such as the "Ruggeduino". http://www.rugged-circuits.com/ruggeduino/ )

    Arduino, as a whole, is an entire development platform. There are different boards for different classes/types/families of microcontrollers, but that's not all the Arduino is.

    The Arduino development environment (IDE) doesn't necessarily hide the details of microcontrollers any more than any other IDE. You choose what level to work at. In fact, you can use the Arduino IDE for serious real-world applications. The fact that there are many libraries available (thanks to the HUGE community), offers many conveniences (built-in serial monitor, for example), and is stripped down to the bare essentials is what makes the Arduino IDE feel so much easier/simpler than others.

    Being a development board, its entire purpose is to make you as productive as possible, as fast as possible. However, you are not forced to use the "Arduino way" at all. You can use the Arduino IDE without using an Arduino board or even the Arduino bootloader. Likewise, you can use the Arduino hardware without using the Arduino IDE (that's what the ICSP port is for). You might not use an entire Arduino board in production/finalized projects, but you WILL use the software you developed and tested with one. You prototype with an Arduino, you don't usually end with it.

    To answer the OP's original question, the UNO and MEGA are the two most popular. I'd go with the Mega, personally. Unless you have a specific project in mind that may require particular hardware (like built-in wifi, for example).
  12. dannyf

    Well-Known Member

    Sep 13, 2015
    My favorite is the Leonardo - as the chip on it supports adjustable gain for the adc model, very rare amongst low-end chips and comes handy for many instrumentation / measurement projects.
  13. GetDeviceInfo

    Senior Member

    Jun 7, 2009
    I too lean towards the Leonardo, mainly for its native USB.

    Don't use a wall adapter for power source. That would be a faiil.