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I'm a college student, and I'm interested in learning basic programming. I'm completely new to this do it yourself software stuff.  I took a look at Raspberry Pi, but it seemed like there were too many additional costs like getting a monitor, cables, etc. So I found Arduino!
What are some basic things I should know before buying a board?

Am I correct in thinking that I only need a USB cable to plug in the board to my laptop and then I can run everything from there? No other peripherals like an HDMI cable?
There is learning/educational software preloaded on the Arduino environment that is downloaded?
How easy is Arduino to use for beginners? Is it a good investment? Will I learn a lot through using it?
What board would you recommend?
Anything else I should know?

Thank you!
« Last Edit: March 05, 2013, 01:46:10 am by trijohn » Logged

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What are some basic things I should know before buying a board?

Do you have access to a computer running Windows, Linux, or MacOS?  That is a requirement for working with an Arduino.
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"Am I correct in thinking that I only need a USB cable to plug in the board to my laptop and then I can run everything from there?"  Yes.

"There is learning/educational software preloaded on the Arduino environment that is downloaded?" Yes, there is example code in the IDE.

Pretty easy to use.
Good investment - can be found pretty inexpensively:  
http://www.nkcelectronics.com/arduino-duemilanove.html
http://www.nkcelectronics.com/Arduino-UNO-Used-Board_p_265.html
You can learn a lot.
You will need some external components if you want to do more than flash the onboard LED or send messages back to the PC.

Good downloadable book here
https://www.earthshineelectronics.com/information/5--imprint.html?sid=unu7e8kmfv9h4f4ketqfdhtcd3

or get an Arduino starter kit with its book & parts.



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Designing & building electrical circuits for over 25 years. Check out the ATMega1284P based Bobuino and other '328P & '1284P creations & offerings at  www.crossroadsfencing.com/BobuinoRev17.
Arduino for Teens available at Amazon.com.

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What are some basic things I should know before buying a board?

Do you have access to a computer running Windows, Linux, or MacOS?  That is a requirement for working with an Arduino.


Yes, my laptop runs Windows 7. Would these starter kits be suitable?
http://www.amazon.com/Starter-Kit-Newsite-Uno-Breadboard/dp/B0051QHPJM/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1362468097&sr=1-1&keywords=arduino
or this: http://www.amazon.com/CanaKit-AX-KIT1-Arduino-Starter-Kit/dp/B007NNICDE/ref=sr_1_8?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1362468153&sr=1-8&keywords=arduino+starter+kit

A starter kit would probably be better than getting a board by itself?

I would like to eventually do more than just flash the LED and other simple stuff. Having said that, I would preferably like to keep the overall cost below $50 and have a good number of options in terms of stuff I can do with the board. Is that possible?
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Sure.
Get a board, read up on projects, then get parts from here for the projects you want to try.
dipmicro.com
taydaelectronics.com
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Designing & building electrical circuits for over 25 years. Check out the ATMega1284P based Bobuino and other '328P & '1284P creations & offerings at  www.crossroadsfencing.com/BobuinoRev17.
Arduino for Teens available at Amazon.com.

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Is there any assembly required with the starter kits I listed or with the boards in general to set up?
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I'm a college student, and I'm interested in learning basic programming.

While Arduinos are awesome fun (I wish they had thoose when I went to school, maybe I had gone to class then) I don't get if you just want to learn to program where I would say that it would be more usefull to get a book on any programming language really or if you acctually want the hardware part that the Arduino gives you.

(Acctually you might want to pick up a book on C/C++ too anyway)
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Assembly - you can do a lot of learning with a solderless breadboard. Just need some 26 guage solid core jumper wire (telephone wire - 4-strand wire can be had at hardware store for like 25 cents a foot, 4 feet will make a lot of jumpers).
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Arduino for Teens available at Amazon.com.

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There are different levels of assembly you could use.
Let's assume you get yourself a starter kit.
That consists of the Arduino, some single parts and a breadboard.
This breadboard is what you need to connect the different parts, using the wires which are also in the kit.
That way you will learn a bit about electronics too.
Some kits have small PCBs too.
The Arduino is built to allow PCB or modules to be plugged in directly, these are called shields.
If you're absolutely not interested in electronics, you can just use these shields, and use them a bit like lego builing blocks.
I guess a display shield or a display/keypad shield is the most spread one.
It allows you to play around with the display and try all kinds of stuff but it comes in very handy while debugging, as i already discovered (been playing with Arduino for less than a half year).
These shields are also inexpensive and you can get yourself a new shield when you think you are ready for a new step in learning so you can spread your expenses and keep your wallet safe.
Most of us do that, as it's fun and somewhat addictive to play around with this stuff.

Browse a bit in the shops you've been linked to and see what kind of shields and small sensor stuff is available (and at what prices).
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Have a look at "blink without delay".
Did you connect the grounds ?
Je kunt hier ook in het Nederlands terecht: http://arduino.cc/forum/index.php/board,77.0.html

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Thanks for the help everyone! I got an uno r3 starter kit.
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I forgot to ask before I opened it...but I got this kit here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007NNICDE/ref=oh_details_o00_s00_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

It doesn't require soldering right? Solderless breadboard does the job?
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Yes, Solderless breadboard and jumpers.  Good to go.
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Designing & building electrical circuits for over 25 years. Check out the ATMega1284P based Bobuino and other '328P & '1284P creations & offerings at  www.crossroadsfencing.com/BobuinoRev17.
Arduino for Teens available at Amazon.com.

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