Arduino is the largest open-source hardware platform in the world and offers infinite possibilities on what you can achieve using simple microcontroller-based products. Learning how to program using the Arduino platform is a never-ending process. New hardware is designed and unveiled to the market every day, but the good thing is that the basics remain the same.
Therefore, the best way to start off is by learning the basics using an Arduino starter kit. That way, you will be able to work with any Arduino-based board in the market. In this article, I will tell you about some of the best Arduino starter kits that are available on the market.
What to Look for in an Arduino Starter Kit
Arduino starter kits come packed with information and hardware. However, each kit differs from the other in one way or another. Therefore, it is vital that you know how to identify the best kit, as your learning progress will be greatly determined by the hardware you use and the tutorials you do.
The first thing you should consider is the center piece hardware that your starter kit has. By centerpiece hardware, we mean the microcontroller board that the tutorials will be centered on. Most of the kits usually use an Arduino UNO R3 board which is the flagship board of the Arduino platform. There are some kits that use other variations of the Arduino UNO R3 board. In that case, you should check to ensure that the microcontroller board in question is fully compatible with the UNO R3.
Since you cannot use the Arduino board alone, you have to check the number and kind of electronic components and parts that the kit has. There should be many passive and active components to enable you to carry out as many tutorials as possible. This way you will be able to learn more from the kit.
As a newbie, you probably don’t know head from tail when it comes to doing hardware connections and programming the Arduino board. Therefore, you need some guiding hand in the form of online beginner tutorials, a connection manual or a tutorial book. Every Arduino starter kit should have some manual or guidebook that you can use during the learning process.
Now that you know what you need in an Arduino starter kit, we can proceed and look at some popular Arduino starter kits in the market.
Official starter kit
Just as its name suggests, the Official Starter Kit is designed by Arduino, for beginners. It has a wide array of components that enable you learn all you can about the Arduino open source hardware. The starter kit is based on the Arduino UNO R3 board.
Apart from the Arduino UNO R3 board the kit has over 200 other electronic components and parts that you will use while performing the tutorials. Some of those part include LEDs, sensors, a servo, a motor, LCD screen, potentiometers, resistors and transistors among many other components.
In addition to the hardware, this kit also comes with a project book from Make Magazine. The book, titled Getting Started with Arduino: The Open Source Electronics Prototyping Platform Paperback, contains projects that guide beginners on the path of understanding the Arduino platform. It starts off by familiarising the user with the tools and hardware components that he or she will be using. Then it proceeds to simple projects and provides hardware connection instructions and sample codes. This way, you are able to get comprehensive training.
The ELEGOO UNO Project Super Starter Kit is centered on the Arduino UNO R3 board. It comes with numerous electronic parts that enable you to start making your own projects. Some of the electronic components include a breadboard holder, a breadboard, DC motor, small servo motor, a relay, a number of sensors, LEDs, US cable, resistors and other passive components.
In addition to a complete set of hardware components the kit has a 72-page, full color instruction manual. The manual provides you with a full introduction to Arduino programming and hardware connection through step by step tutorials. The first chapters familiarize you with each electronic component in the kit, including the breadboard. Once you have mastered the components, you can proceed to the subsequent chapters which take you through different tutorial projects. After you are done with the tutorials, you should be able to make your own projects using the different components the kit has.
There are three versions of this kit. There is one that has an additional LCD screen, one with an Ethernet shield and another that doesn’t have either of those components. The first two kits are slightly expensive than the last. Therefore, keep that in mind when purchasing your kit.
The SainSmart starter kit is based on the SainSmart UNO R3 board that is compatible with the Arduino UNO R3, with the exception of a few small pinout features, such as the inclusion of analog pins A6 and A7 and the inclusion of SDA and SCL pins next to the AREF pin. However, it works the same way as the official Arduino UNO R3.
There are many components that come with this kit. They include an array of sensors, Dot matrix displays, USB cable, RGB LEDs, breadboard, jumper wires, infrared remote and buzzer among many other components. You can use these components to create many different projects of your own.
In addition to the hardware components, the SainSmart starter kit has more than 16 projects for beginners and professionals. The tutorials are detailed and have project introductions and source code. These tutorials as well as online tutorials available on the SainSmart website and blogs will provide you with enough material for your learning needs.
Arduino Starter Kit: Our #1 Pick
After reviewing the kits above, we selected the Arduino Official Starter Kit as our number one pick. This is because of several reasons. First of all, it has over 200 components which is more than we can say for most of the other kits. Moreover, it comes with a hardcopy tutorial book – Getting Started with Arduino: The Open Source Electronics Prototyping Platform Paperback.
Therefore, you can get started as soon as you receive the kit without having to do online searches. Finally, since the Arduino has a large community you can easily find additional tutorials on their websites and related blogs. Therefore, grab yourself a kit and start your journey into the endless realm of Arduino open source hardware.