Introduction to Arduino for the budding enthusiast:
These are gifts to help people get started with Arduino. Board, book and components, as well as an inquiring mind, are all that’s needed to get going.
The Getting Started with Arduino, $64.99, kit includes the Arduino board and the basic components to get you started. The Getting Started with Arduino book is sold separately, but is available as a reduced cost add-on for $10.
Taking Next Steps with Arduino:
These are fun and engaging gifts that go beyond blinking an LED. All of these open endless possibilities for creating useful and fun projects with Arduino.
Want to give a gift that gets the pulse racing? Go for the Pulse Sensor AMPED for Arduino, $25. Gently place the sensor on any area of skin and it will transmit pulse data to your Arduino for processing. The included sample processing/Arduino code lets you visualize pulse data on your computer. It’s a simple, non-invasive, inexpensive way to incorporate biofeedback into your projects. I used this to make an LED lamp that subtly changed color in response to the heart rate of the person holding the lamp.
A prototyping shield, $16.95, makes it easy to build circuits for Arduino. You can add a mini breadboard for soldlerless tinkering or connect components directly to the board for finished projects. I use these for circuits that I have transferred from solderless breadboards when I want something more permanent.
With lots of easy to connect sensors, the Arduino Compatible Electronic Brick Starter Kit, $49.99, is a great next-level Arduino gift. Just add an Arduino board and you can experiment with lots of sensors – no soldering required. This is a plug-and-play solution to get going with Arduino for people that don’t want to solder or mess around with breadboards.
Extend your Arduino projects with wireless or Ethernet.
Unplug your project by adding a wireless sensor, $23.50, to your existing Arduino board. This one includes an easy to build transmitter node and receiver shield. I have used these in many home-control projects to wirelessly connect sensors to a central Arduino system. For example, I use this to keep track of room temperatures and humidity to tune the heating system in my 150 year old house.
The JeeNode v6 Kit, $22.50 (not pictured), is a transceiver package that includes an on-board Arduino compatible controller. Get at least two. I use these when I want wireless capability and an Arduino compatible controller in a small package. These units can send and receive and are a good choice when two-way communication is required. I have used them in lots of projects, the most recent was for a robot controller that displayed status on an LCD and sent commands to control robot movement. Arduino Ethernet card, $58. Connecting Arduino to the internet enables your Arduino projects to communicate with the broader world over Ethernet and networks. You can remotely access your sensor data or take control of your Arduino’s actions from anywhere there is a network connection. If I could have one and only one Arduino board, this would be the one. Because of the endless variety of things to connect to, I have had more fun building applications for this board than with anything else.
Supercharge your projects:
The new Arduino compatible 32 bit ARM microcontrollers are many times faster than standard Arduino boards, but use the same friendly development environment. The 32 bit Arduino Due, $50, has 54 digital input/output pins and is lightening fast compared to the Uno.
The Teensy3, $19, is perfect for someone who wants 32 bit supercharged Arduino speed in a small package that can be programmed using the Arduino IDE. The performance of the 32 bit controller enables applications such as sound and visual processing that are beyond the capabilities of standard 8 bit boards such as the Uno.
Taking Arduino skills to the next level:
These are gifts for intermediate and advanced users to build projects and have fun.
Robots are a great way to explore Arduino capabilities and show off skills. These kits are based on the robots that I built to demonstrate Arduino capabilities at Maker Faire. There’s a 2WD model ($169.99) and a 4WD version ($194.99) for running over rough ground. Or you can just buy the book, Make an Arduino Powered Robot, $24.99, if you want to build one from scratch.