Over the last year Arduino has become of the most popular microcontroller and learning platforms out there, it’s open source roots and thousands of projects have made it a frequent item in MAKE. So for this year and the holiday season I wanted to put together a gift guide that had the best of the best in the world of Arduino, if you know anyone who wants to get in to electronics, make interactive art projects or just wants to do cool things with microcontroller, Arduino is the way to go! AND it’s open source!
Before we get started some of you still might be wondering what an Arduino is. Arduino is a tool for making computers that can sense and control more of the physical world than your desktop computer. It’s an open- source physical computing platform based on a simple microcontroller board, and a development environment for writing software for the board.
Arduino can be used to develop interactive objects, taking inputs from a variety of switches or sensors, and controlling a variety of lights, motors, and other physical outputs. Arduino projects can be stand-alone, or they can be communicate with software running on your computer (e.g. Flash, Processing, MaxMSP.) The boards can be assembled by hand or purchased preassembled; the open-source IDE can be downloaded for free.
The Arduino programming language is an implementation of Wiring, a similar physical computing platform, which is based on the Processing multimedia programming environment. Arduino is open source!
The Arduino Diecimila is a microcontroller board based on the ATmega168 (datasheet). It has 14 digital input/output pins (of which 6 can be used as PWM outputs), 6 analog inputs, a 16 MHz crystal oscillator, a USB connection, a power jack, an ICSP header, and a reset button. It contains everything needed to support the microcontroller; simply connect it to a computer with a USB cable or power it with a AC-to-DC adapter or battery to get started.
“Diecimila” means 10,000 in Italian and was named thusly to mark the fact that over 10,000 Arduino boards have been made.
Arduino – open source learning and physical computing Price: $34.99 Buy: Maker store – Link.
From the Maker store – Arduino, the an open-source physical computing platform based on a simple microcontroller board, and a development environment for writing software for the board. For tiny projects consider the Arduino mini (and USB adaptor) – it’s more expensive, but it might make sense for some projects.
This is the one they want under the tree, a BLINKY tree!!
An open-source prototyping shield for Arduino NG/Diecimila. It has tons of cool features, to make prototyping on your Arduino easy. AND a breadboard – Half the size of a half-size breadboard! Measures 1.4″ x 1.6″ (3.5 cm x 4.5cm) Perfect for tiny projects and for sticking onto the top of Arduino protoshields!
Making Things Talk by Tom Igoe – the best book on Arduino! Price: $29.99 Buy: Maker store – Link.
Next up! The best (and only) book on all the things you need to get started with Arduino! Programming microcontrollers used to require an expensive development environment costing thousands of dollars and requiring professional electrical engineering expertise. Open-source physical computing platforms with simple i/o boards and development environments have led to new options for hobbyists, hackers, and makers. This book contains a series of projects that teach you what you need to know to get your creations talking to each other, connecting to the web, and forming networks of smart devices.
Arduino starter pack – the best way to get started! Price: $65.00 Buy: Adafruit Industries – Link.
Heard about Arduino but not sure how to start? Want to learn how to work with electronics and microcontrollers but need a little help?
This bundle is designed to get you started quickly and easily on your path of learning electronics. Once you’ve received your starter pack you can follow the introductory tutorials here, designed for everyone, even people with little or no electronics and programming experience. The starter pack has everything you need (except tools) for lessons 0 through 10.
- Arduino Diecimila – The latest and greatest Arduino revision, assembled and ready to go
- 3′ USB cable – Perfect for connecting your Arduino to a computer
- Protoshield Kit – One of my designs, its got everything you need to make prototype designs using an Arduino. Note that this comes unassembled by default
- Tiny Breadboard – Fits on top of the protoshield, high quality and easy to use
- 9V DC regulated wall adapter – You can power your Arduino from any wall socket. This switching regulator is efficient and small
- 9V Battery case with switch and a 2.1mm plug – so you can power your arduino using a 9V battery. This case is much sturdier than just a battery clip and it has an on/off switch too!. Note that this comes unassembled by default
- Tutorial starter pack parts – Includes a 10K potentiometer, 1K potentiometer, 2 small pushbuttons, 5 red diffused bright LEDs, one each of red, green and blue ultrabright LED, 5 100 ohm resistors, 5 1K resistors, 5 10K resistors, and a CdS photocell (new!). Also includes 4 pieces of 18″ long jumper wire in red, black, yellow and blue, perfect for use with the solderless breadboard.
- A nice tucked box to store it all in.
Bare Bones Arduino board Kit (unassembled) – clone clone! Price: $19.99 Buy: Maker store – Link.
If you’re an Arudino pro, you might want to get a cheap clone version for your projects. Despite the Bare-Bones name, the BBB is a full featured Arduino-compatible that includes the vast majority of the functionality of the Arduino Diecimila. The latest revision even includes some analog noise-reduction features not found on other official Arduino boards. Breadboard-friendly options on the BBB are also not found on other official Arduino boards. Two interfaces available: A P4 Serial Adapters & cable which allows serial port programming of Bare Bones Boards and other microcontrollers. However, the board was specifically designed to work with a FTDI TTL-232R USB-to-TTL serial cable, also available.
P4 adapter/serial cable – connect on up! Price: $7.00 Buy: Maker store – Link.
Serial adapter with DTR support for those who have an RS232 port. Includes DB9 Male / DB9 Female serial cable (while supplies last). For use with the Bare Bones Board or other Arduino clones.
Boarduino (Arduino clone) kit – attack of the clones! Price: $17.50 Buy: Adafruit Industries – Link.
If you’ve ever struggled to use a solderless breadboard with an Arduino, you understand how frustrating it can be! This clone acts just like an Arduino, and works with the latest Arduino software. For many projects it can even be preferrable! The kit includes all parts necessary, the assembly is straightforward and well documented. Since this design doesn’t include a USB chip, you’ll want an FTDI USB 232-TTL cable. Since the cable plugs right into the Boarduino, you can use one cable for multiple Boarduinos.
LilyPad Arduino main board – wearable computing! Price: $19.95 Buy: SparkFun Electronics – Link.
This is LilyPad Arduino – the main board consisting of an ATmega168V with the Arduino bootloader and a minimum number of external components to keep it as small (and as simple) as possible. Board will run from 2V to 5V.
LilyPad is a wearable e-textile technology developed by Leah Buechley and cooperatively designed by Leah and SparkFun. Each LilyPad was creatively designed to have large connecting pads to allow them to be sewn into clothing. Various input, output, power, and sensor boards are available. They’re even washable!
Also check out:
- LilyPad Accelerometer
- LilyPad Buzzer
- LilyPad Light Sensor
- LilyPad Power Supply
- LilyPad Tri-Color LED
- LilyPad Vibe Board
XBee shield kit – go wireless with Arduino! Price: $11.99 Buy: NKC electronics – Link.
The XBee shield is a product developed by Libelium together with the Arduino team. It is a shield that, mounted on the Arduino board, allows to establish wireless communication between different devices (more about the XBee here, it’s usually $19.00).
Arduino-compatible shield motor control – get things moving! Price: $4.99 Buy: NKC electronics – Link.
PCB to build the Arduino L293D-based Motor Control Shield. PCB only. Shields are boards that can be plugged on top of the Arduino PCB extending its capabilities. The different shields follow the same philosophy as the original toolkit: they are easy to mount, and cheap to produce.
Ok that’s it! Have other suggestions? Post on up in the comments!