The world of electronics can be fascinating. Being able to create a robot looks like a very difficult task only for the experienced technical graduates but anyone can be able to create and enjoy the fun of assembling programmable electronics with the right tools and components. Arduino is a popular open-source platform designed for engineers, designers, and hobbyists among other people interested in programmable electronics. This guide will give you some ideas on how to get the best Arduino starter kit.
The platform functions by sensing the environment by reading data from various components, buttons, and sensors and then impact the environment by controlling motors, LEDs, relays, and servos among others. With the Arduino platform, you can create projects that use the software on a computer to communicate such as processing, projects that communicate with other Arduinos projects or stand-alone projects among other possibilities.
Over the years, Arduino has been used to empower thousands of projects that range from fun objects to everyday objects and advanced scientific instruments. The platform is also backed by a worldwide community of hobbyists, students, programmers, artists, and professionals, which means that novices have an incredible amount of knowledge to help them build their projects. For the platform to work, you are required to use the Arduino IDE software and the Arduino programming language to set the instructions you would like the board to accomplish. The things that the board can accomplish depend on your project as it has the ability to read inputs such as a finger press on a button, light on a sensor and even a Twitter message among other possibilities and turn the input into the desired output such as turning on an LED, activating a motor, and publishing something among other possibilities.
Why choose Arduino?
Although Arduino is not the only available electronic board, enthusiasts prefer it for its simplicity and flexibility. The platform is easy for beginners and students to build low-cost projects or even get started with robotics and programming, yet it is flexible enough for architects and designers to build interactive prototypes among other advanced applications. The readily available step by step instructions enables everyone whether a child, programmer or a hobbyist easily get started to tinker. In fact, you can also use take advantage of the ideas from other members to learn and experiment new things.
While Arduino like any other tool is designed to wrap up the complicated details of microcontroller programming into an easy, ready-to-use package, the Arduino comes with many other benefits that make it popular with professionals and beginners alike. Arduino boards are some of the cheapest microcontroller platforms available on the market. They are also designed to work with Windows, Linux, and Mac operating systems. The Arduino software is also built to offer users with a simple, clear programming environment ideal for both beginners and professionals. Other qualities that make Arduino stand out among the modules include:
Open Source: Being an open source, you can choose to buy a ready-made Arduino or simply buy the individual components and assemble them yourself. Furthermore, whichever mode you choose, there are many real tutorials available to help you create your project from the box and thus, it does not have a learning curve although it comes with a detailed manual for those interested.
Connectivity: Arduino can do anything you can think of. In fact, its ability is subject to your imagination and willingness to try something new. As the basic hardware, the module can be connected to a computer, other modules or even work independently.
Support: Trying something means that you are likely to encounter some challenges before completing your project, which can be discouraging. The Arduino readily accessible, global community means that you will always have an expert to consult in case you encounter any challenges with your project. Furthermore, the large community also keeps you on your toes as there is always something new to try.
Common components that make up an Arduino starter kit
Before you start shopping for the Arduino module, it is important that you familiarize yourself with the common components that make up an Arduino starter kit. The components in an Arduino starter kit are enough to enable you to build interesting cool projects. The components are also not expensive usually costing you less than $50. Some of the useful components you will find in the starter kit include:
Arduino Starter Kit Module
The Arduino is the most important component and varies based on the model that you choose. The Uno model is one of the most popular with beginners as it is completely serviceable and it can handle most projects. For users looking for a more powerful model, the Arduino Mega is the popular choice while those looking to use very small spaces prefer the Pro Micro or the Mini.
The breadboard is a plastic sheet with holes on the top and metal rails underneath. The component helps you easily experiment with circuits. A breadboard is basically a testing tool that lets you easily make or break electrical connections. To make connections, you only need to insert the wires into the holes. The breadboards usually have two or four groups of holes running along the board in groups of five. In some occasions, they can be labeled with a blue and a red line.
The Arduino starter kit also comes with several LEDs in yellow, white, green and red colors, in addition to a single RGB LED that features 4 pins with each pin being representative of one color and a common cathode. The different colors let you experiment color mixing or display random colors.
USB Cable and Jumper Wires
The USB cable lets you connect the Arduino to the PC or to a separate power supply. The USB cable transmits data to and from a computer to the Arduino as well as power the unit. The jumper wires, on the other hand, are used to create connections between the beadboard and your components.
Ceramic Capacitor and H Bridge
The role of capacitors is to regulate voltage and smooth out a signal while the H-Bridge enables the voltage to be moved into either direction. Some units such as dual H Bridge enable the use of two or more components.
Dot Matrix Display and LCD Display
The Arduino starter kit also comes with 16 by 2 character LCD display for displaying static or scrolling messages. The kit may also contain an 8 by 8 grid of LED lights, the Dot matrix display. The LEDs light can be programmed to work independently or together to create simple images or messages.
Transistors and push button
The starter kit also comes with both PNP and NPN transistors that act as a digital switch in signal amplifying and digital logic circuits. The PNP and NPN transistors have opposite polarities. The push button role is to make or break a connection when pressed.
Slide Switch and Diode
Diode only allows the current to flow in one direction and thus, it is used to protect components from a reverse current surge. The slide switch basically allows or cuts the current.
Optocoupler and Resistors
The optocoupler enables the transmission of signals between two parts of the circuit while keeping them electronically isolated. The resistors, on the other hand, limit the flow of current to the components to prevent damage.
If you are trying out the Arduino for the first time, it is important that you start with simple projects that work with one or few components. Some of the starter projects that you can easily create using the components in the Arduino starter kit include blinking an LED, adding a button, light sensor, and make some noise among other easy projects.
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