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Since they were released in Italy back in 2005, Arduino boards have become very popular among electronics and programming enthusiasts, being a great way to get started in these fields. As completely free and modifiable hardware, you can currently find a wide variety of Arduino boards and kits available.
You will not find any official boards or compatible boards. As they are so varied and offer so many possibilities, there is no limit except for your own imagination. However, this also means that selecting an Arduino board or kit can be a complicated task, especially if you are new to this area.
- 1 Key Facts
- 2 Our Selection: The Best Arduino Boards on the U.S. Market
- 3 Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Arduino Boards
- 3.1 What is an Arduino board exactly?
- 3.2 What is the difference between Arduino and Genuino boards?
- 3.3 What are the advantages and disadvantages of Arduino?
- 3.4 Why should I buy an Arduino board?
- 3.5 Should I buy an Arduino kit?
- 3.6 Who should buy an Arduino kit or board?
- 3.7 What are the official Arduino license board models?
- 3.8 What are Arduino compatible boards?
- 3.9 What applications does Arduino have?
- 3.10 What programming language does Arduino use?
- 4 Buyer’s Guide
- 5 Summary
- As Arduino is a completely free hardware, it is possible to modify or improve any design as you wish. This means that you can find a large number of compatible boards with different specifications, in addition to the official boards.
- Arduino is an ideal way to introduce yourself to the fields of programming and electronics. It can be particularly useful in an educational setting. Colleges are already using this technology for teaching their students.
- When buying an Arduino board the most important thing to consider is what you will use it for. This will influence both the board type and number and type of pieces that you will need. You should also consider the manuals included in the kit and the quality of the materials it is made from.
Our Selection: The Best Arduino Boards on the U.S. Market
Below you’ll find our selection of the four best Arduino boards and kits available on today’s market. These include both introductory products perfect for beginners and those for more advanced users. Each represents great value for money.
- Best New Generation Arduino Board
- Best Beginner Arduino Board
- Best Arduino Starter Kit
- Best Arduino Development Board
Best New Generation Arduino Board
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The Arduino R3 generation boasts a faster operating rate and more memory. Next to the AREF is the Uno R3 adds SCL and SDA pins. This board has two new pins next to the RESET pin: an IOREF pin which allows the shield to adjust the voltage level, and a spare pin for any future uses you may have. This board doesn’t just work with all other existing shields, it can also work with new shields that require additional pins.
Best Beginner Arduino Board
This product comes fully packed with everything you need to support a microcontroller. Getting started is very easy; simply power it with an AC-TO-DC adapter or connect it to your computer with a USB cable, and you’re good to go! This Uno board is first of its kind and number one in the series of USB Arduino boards. In the event of an accident or malfunction, you can replace the chip for just a few dollars and start over without hassles. It has 14 digital input/output pins (of which 6 can be used as PWM outputs), 6 analog inputs, a 16 MHz quartz crystal, a USB connection, a power jack, an ICSP header and a reset button.
Best Arduino Starter Kit
The Arduino starter kit is specifically designed for beginners and ideal for learning the concepts of programming and electronics, and how to apply them to real applications. This product is ideal for those with little knowledge or experience with programming and electronics who want to start making their own gadgets, and comes with all the essential components you need to get started.
Best Arduino Development Board
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This board has a robust design, and yet simple, and easy to use. It addresses the traditional instability and incompatibility of the UNO R3 to Win7 and Win8 system, solving these issues for a smooth and effortless experience. It comes with a pin socket compatible with DuPont wire. This new version has a superior design that is equipped with all the functionality you need and ultimate compatibility.
Shopping Guide: Everything You Should Know About Arduino Boards
When buying an Arduino motherboard or kit, it is essential to consider a number of important issues. Do not forget that there are different models of Arduino boards and kits and that each one is designed with a different use in mind. For this reason, we wanted to answer buyers’ most common questions in this section.
What is an Arduino board exactly?
Arduino is a development platform based on a free hardware electronic board that has an ATMEL reprogrammable microcontroller and a series of pins. With these pins, you can set connections between the microcontroller and a wide variety of sensors.
These connections are usually set in a very simple way, commonly using Dupont cables. By connecting the microcontroller-integrated circuit to a computer, the user can record instructions using a programming language. They can then design programs that interact with the electronic circuits.
What is the difference between Arduino and Genuino boards?
The similarity between these two names can sometimes cause confusion. Arduino boards are officially marketed to the US market, while these same devices are often called Genuine in other countries. However, the difference is solely due to legal issues regarding the brand name.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of Arduino?
Arduino offers a lot of advantages. First of all, since it is completely open hardware, it is possible to modify or improve any design. This means it is possible to find a large number of compatible boards beyond the official ones. In addition, there is a very active Arduino community to support you.
It is, therefore, an ideal tool for beginners in the world of electronics and programming. The programming language used is simple, yet very powerful, meaning it offers many possibilities. We have summarized all these advantages and more in the following table.
Why should I buy an Arduino board?
Arduino is completely free and modifiable. This means you can do any modification or extension you want with no problem at all. This applies to both the board design and the development environment associated with it. You will, therefore, find a wide variety of unofficial boards and software libraries available.
Additionally, Arduino has a large user community. Its programming environment is compatible with Windows, Mac OS and Linux. Arduino uses a programming language that is very easy to understand, but at the same time has a high capacity to fit virtually any situation.
Should I buy an Arduino kit?
An Arduino board by itself is not really useful. It requires a series of extra elements such as a power supply, a USB cable to load the programs you make and different modules that allow you to store projects on memory. Therefore, unless you already have these elements, you are better off buying a starter kit.
Who should buy an Arduino kit or board?
Arduino boards are ideal for electronics and computer enthusiasts. Given the wide variety of boards, kits and modules available, you will find a suitable product whether you are just starting out, or if you are more advanced. They are also a great educational tool for schools and colleges.
What are the official Arduino license board models?
There are a range of different official Arduino board models, each one with their own specifications. This means that each offers different benefits, and may be designed with specific uses in mind. Many boards have different versions as well. Here is a list of the main official models.
- Arduino Uno
- Arduino TRE
- Arduino/Genuino 101
- Arduino Zero
- Arduino Zero Pro
- Arduino Yun
- Arduino Leonardo
- Arduino Due
- Arduino Mega
- Arduino Mega ADK
- Arduino Ethernet
- Arduino Fio
- Arduino Nano
- Arduino LilyPad
- Arduino Pro
- Arduino Pro Mini
- Arduino Esplora
- Arduino Micro
- Arduino BT
- Arduino Duemilanove
- Arduino Diecimila
- Arduino Primo
- Arduino STAR OTTO
- Arduino Industrial 101
What are Arduino compatible boards?
As open hardware, anyone can build their own Arduino board to suit their needs. This way, many manufacturers take advantage of the enormous popularity of Arduino and make their own boards, then sell them at a lower price. In some cases, these boards are essentially identical to the original Arduino boards. Sometimes, they may have added functionality, or may be much cheaper than the original.
What applications does Arduino have?
We have already mentioned Arduino’s applications in the educational field, as well as for beginners in computing and electronics. However, much more can be done with Arduino. They can be used to design fun gadgets, drones, to build basic robots, to create 3D printers, and even to create art.
What programming language does Arduino use?
The free Arduino platform is programmed with its own language developed from the high-level programming language known as ‘Processing’. It is a language quite similar to C++ and is a general-purpose programming language associated with UNIX, with its point of difference being that is highly portable.
If you’re thinking about buying an Arduino board or kit, there are a few factors you’ll want to consider. We have selected the most important ones which will help you to make the right decision:
- Board Type
- Type of Pieces
- Instructions and Tutorials
The first thing to consider is what you will use your Arduino board for. You will not need the same board or kit if you simply want to learn about the world of electronics as if you want to design complex projects. Keep in mind that there are also kits available which are designed specifically for children and teenagers.
Some of these kits allow you to build toys like remote-control cars, ideal for combine learning with fun. Beyond that, if what you want to start in the Arduino world, a very interesting option is to opt for a complete kit that allows you develop more complex projects once you have taken the first steps.
Currently, there are a number of official Arduino boards, aside from those that have been discontinued. There are many other compatible models that you can easily use in your projects. If you go for an official board, be careful with possible fake ones. Sometimes they are really hard to distinguish.
The official basic model is the Arduino Uno which is a perfect introduction to this exciting world. However, if you want more power, you can go for the Arduino Zero. Or if you prefer something with as many inputs as possible, then the Arduino Mega, which comes with 54 digital inputs, maybe for you. There are other boards that are designed for more specific uses.
Type of Pieces
The type of components included is as important as the number of pieces. Therefore, make sure that first of all, you are clear on the type of projects you are going to carry out. From there, carefully check the parts that are included in the kit and whether they will be suitable for the project you are looking to work on.
Essential components include a power supply, a USB cable to connect it to your PC and a complete set of connecting cables. And, of course, the board. It is can also be useful to have diodes, resistors, switches, pushbuttons, and integrated circuits.
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Jeremy S. Cook's ClearCrawler is a strandbeest-inspired walker powered by dual gear motors for differential steering of its eights legs. The robot also includes a servo-driven head assembly and a pair of LED matrix eyes. Onboard control is handled by an Arduino Nano and an L298N driver board, while an Uno with a joystick shield serves as the user interface. Radio transmission is via two nRF24L01 modules. 🤖 See more on our blog! 📷 github.com/JeremySCook/ClearCrawler
Instructions and Tutorials
Instructions and tutorials included in the kit are something else to keep in mind. Sure, you’ll find a mountain of documentation related to Arduino both online and in libraries. However, it is always much better to this information first hand, from the board manufacturer itself.
Manuals and tutorials which come with the board or kit usually show different projects that can be carried out with the elements included in the set. Many manufacturers often offer complementary updated guides on their website. You should also check that the manual comes in English!
Keep in mind that Arduino is designed to test and constantly create different designs. Under these circumstances, it is important to make sure that parts and components are made from good-quality materials. It is essential for them to be durable, so you do not have to replace them after only a few months of use.
Sometimes, you can find boards and components that are fairly cheap, but that are manufactured with poor quality components or are poorly made in general. This may not be a big problem in the short term. However, it can limit you to carry out new projects in the long run.
Arduino’s popularity has only accelerated in the last few years. There are many programming and electronics enthusiasts who found in this free hardware tool a great opportunity to start in this exciting field or to make their own technological designs.
Currently, there is a wide variety of Arduino boards, both official and compatible, unofficial boards. Similarly, it is possible to purchase complete kits with a wide variety of components. Therefore, given such an extensive offer, it is important to be clear about your needs and what you will use your Arduino for.
If you found this guide useful in your selection process, please feel free to leave us a comment or share it with your friends on social media.
(Source of featured image: Harrison broadbent/ unsplash.com)