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Hi All,

I've found myself Googling Arduino stuff for the past 6 weeks - I find the whole thing fascinating and want to get started. I don't have a project in mind - To start with just the very basics, then see where I end up!

So - What board do I buy? I've decided on an Arduino rather than Netduino (even though I'm a .Net developer) or any other make, so theres a start.

What I don't want to do is buy a cheap, low functionality version that I have to upgrade soon after buying - I would rather start with the (currently) most powerful/feature laden version. (Yes, I understand the concept of shields).

Also - What else should I purchase initially, to get me going?

How about this http://www.coolcomponents.co.uk/catalog/product_info.php?products_id=596?

What is good/bad about the Uno?

So - Any advice/ideas appreciated!

Thank you,

Simon.
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Actually the arduno boards a pretty affordable so don't think that your first arduino purchase will be your last and therefore buy the biggest first. The standard ardunio 2009 or Uno is probably the best starting point.

 You didn't state if you are new to hardware electronics, but if you are your first purchase should be a decent digital multimeter as you will be responsible for proper wiring of components and checking for proper voltages, etc. Those darn electrons are invisible and you need to the meter to tell you where they are hiding and how many are ready to launch into creating problems for you.

Lefty

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Hi Lefty,

Thanks for the reply.

Whats the difference between the Uno and Mega2560? Do most people have the UNO?

Yes - I am new to HW Electronics, I have a multimeter already (Not that I use it, mainly because I don't know how...Yet!)

Are there any concepts I should start reading up on? e.g I have no idea what a capacitor, resistor does etc...Someone mentioned learning about OHM's law also???

Thanks again!
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Whats the difference between the Uno and Mega2560? Do most people have the UNO?

The uno and duemillanove are the most common boards for starting out with. The MEGA 2560 has more pins, so you can sense more stuff and control more stuff, it also has more memory for your programs, a bigger EEPROM, and that kind of thing. It also has a bigger price tag. I have never filled up the memory on my duemillanove, and I have used codes 1000+ lines long, so the extra memory will probably not be a concern for a while yet. If you want to be able to control more outputs, you can use shift registers or multiplexers on both the uno and mega. The MEGA has lots of benefits, but so does the uno.

Quote
Are there any concepts I should start reading up on? e.g I have no idea what a capacitor, resistor does etc...Someone mentioned learning about OHM's law also???

It always helps to know what you are working with - get to know the basic components like resistors, transistors, capacitors and a few integrated circuits. Knowing a few formulae will stop you breaking as many components as you would without the kn owledge, so ohms law is useful. also learn about resistors and capacitors in series and parallel.
All of the above, and more, are explained in the book 'Basic electronics'. It is a fantastic book, although it can be complicated at points, but it is where I learned most of my stuff!

Most importantly, experiment, have fun and learn lots by making things!
Onions.
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Yes - I am new to HW Electronics, I have a multimeter already (Not that I use it, mainly because I don't know how...Yet!)

Then you should start learning this - now - before or soon after you get your Arduino.

Are there any concepts I should start reading up on? e.g I have no idea what a capacitor, resistor does etc...Someone mentioned learning about OHM's law also???

Ohm's Law is fairly simple: V=IR - that is, Voltage = Current x Resistance, Resistance = Voltage / Current, and Current = Voltage / Resistance

But that doesn't tell you anything, I'm afraid - you need a greater background to understand what is going on. If you are serious about learning electronics, I always reccommend Grob's "Basic Electronics" and the Engineer's Mini Notebooks by Forrest M. Mims III; there are others on here who also reccommend "The Art of Electronics" as a good book as well.

Note that Grob's "Basic Electronics" is a textbook (used in EE101 type courses), and as such, can be fairly expensive bought new; buy it used, or buy an older edition. I reccommend it because it starts with "What is an electron" - and works up from there, with theory, math, and application in a very in-depth format. As noted, it is a college level textbook, very dense, and can be a difficult read - but it is all there.

Forrest M. Mims III's "Engineer's Mini Notebooks" were originally published by Radio Shack, back when they used to be a great store for hobby electronics (instead of a place to avoid like today); nowadays, you can find these notebooks used on Amazon, Ebay, Alibris and the like; there are also newer editions available that combine the notebooks into fewer books - Mr. Mims also has a fairly nice website you should check out as well. These little notebooks cover the gamut of basic (and some advanced) electronics - both analog and digital; there's ones on extremely basic components, how they work, etc - there's others on reading schematics, one about the 555, another about Radio and Communication, etc - a very handy set to have around, all come with many example application schematics for a variety of interesting circuits.

Also - check out the various free PDF books on beginning with an Arduino - Earthshine Electronics has an awesome one; there are others around as well (man - this kind of stuff really needs to be collected somewhere - I'd love to just point you to a page and say "go for it").

In addition to your Arduino, you are going to want to buy some components; if you are just starting out, and don't feel comfortable shopping around, then there are many kits of components for the Arduino available (there are even kits with the components and an Arduino - for instance, Earthshine Electronics and AdaFruit have such kits); but if you are - you can sometimes get the components even cheaper, especially if you shop surplus (learn to shop surplus where you can).

Finally - as you gather components, think about how to store them; I always reccommend a tackle box or similar to start out with - or, if you have the room and a dedicated workbench/desk for electronics, Stack-On brand mult-drawer storage containers. Others like zip-lock bags or other similar filing systems (I've even heard about people using 3-ring binders)...

smiley
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Guys, wow, thanks! Lots of useful advice there..."What is an electron" LOL - Good starting point!

I'm going to compare prices on the UNO/2650 and make a purchase v.soon.

In the mean time, getting started PDF to read, then hopefully jump into that Basic Electronics book.

Thanks again!  smiley
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Guys, wow, thanks! Lots of useful advice there..."What is an electron" LOL - Good starting point!

I know it sounds funny, but it is actually a very important starting point; knowing what an electron is, how charge propagates, etc - allows you to understand voltage and current, and how it relates to resistance - the bottom level of Ohm's Law, actually. Those numbers you see in datasheets and for components actually do mean something; the better you understand this, the more you will understand why electronics work, period. It is really a very fascinating subject (also, these concepts are important when you want to know exactly how diodes, bipolar transistors, and MOSFETs (oh, and LEDs) work - not to mention vacuum tubes and CRTs). It isn't that you have to have a deep in-depth knowledge to understand how to work with electronics (though Basic Electronics takes you fairly far), but knowing the basics can help.

smiley
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I'm going to compare prices on the UNO/2650 and make a purchase v.soon.


I would say, buy Uno/Duemilanove, and start with that. It is cheap enough, and has enough I/O-lines for the first then experiments.
Mega's extra pins are needed when you really know that you need them, before that, they just are there to please your mind...

Cheers,
Kari
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The only law for me; Ohms Law: U=R*I       P=U*I
Note to self: "Damn! Why don't you just fix it!!!"

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Yea, I double (triple? Possibly quadruple?) getting the Uno first, you will NOT buy just one Arduino and be done with it (barring the event you get it, play with it for a couple weeks and grow bored of it for some reason)
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Note that Grob's "Basic Electronics" is a textbook (used in EE101 type courses), and as such, can be fairly expensive bought new; buy it used, or buy an older edition. I reccommend it because it starts with "What is an electron" - and works up from there, with theory, math, and application in a very in-depth format. As noted, it is a college level textbook, very dense, and can be a difficult read - but it is all there.

Thanks for the tip on Grob's.  I got a copy...  And yeah, I will vouch for the "very dense, difficult read".  Ooof.  But someday I shall get through it, and hoepfully ask less n00b electronics questions on the forums smiley
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Note that Grob's "Basic Electronics" is a textbook (used in EE101 type courses), and as such, can be fairly expensive bought new; buy it used, or buy an older edition. I reccommend it because it starts with "What is an electron" - and works up from there, with theory, math, and application in a very in-depth format. As noted, it is a college level textbook, very dense, and can be a difficult read - but it is all there.

Thanks for the tip on Grob's.  I got a copy...  And yeah, I will vouch for the "very dense, difficult read".  Ooof.  But someday I shall get through it, and hoepfully ask less n00b electronics questions on the forums smiley

Yeah - like I said, it's an "EE101"-type book; really, it is meant to be used in a classroom kind of setting (which is how I got my copy - which is like the 4th edition or something; still very useful, but likely the newer editions probably have extra info of more recent vintage toward the end) - which helps with the denseness and difficulty (because you can ask questions of your instructor, you have labs to learn the concepts, there's testing, etc).

Take it slow and easy, and try out any quizes at the end of the chapters (at least, I think there were quizes) - in short, treat it as a home study coursebook and work, coupled with self-guided "lab work" - and you should get through it in time...

smiley
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Ok, an UNO it is, plus a nice box of bits and pieces...I'll probably end up with a starter kit.

That book - Will invest in a copy, but can I get away with a 1977 edition? (Approx £70 cheaper than the current, 8th Edition version!)

Also - I saw some cards somewhere that looked like circuit guides, specially for Arduino - Almost templates that you would overlay onto a bread board...does anyone know what these are called, and how/where to obtain them? (Yes, they are almost 'cheating'...but I'm one of those who learn best by doing!)

I already have an idea for a project...something to do with the Chickens that live in our back garden, and protecting them from hungry Foxes! :o)
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That book - Will invest in a copy, but can I get away with a 1977 edition? (Approx £70 cheaper than the current, 8th Edition version!)

I'm not familiar with that edition - I would hesitate to say "yes" (it would probably be OK for the basics of resistors, caps, current, voltage, etc - perhaps bipolar transistors, maybe some mosfets, and perhaps TTL logic - beyond that though...).

My version dates from around 1991 (4th edition, IIRC - but I might be wrong); if you can get that version - you would do better, I think...
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I'd advise you to get a DIP version of whatever board you buy, not a surface mount version. That way, if you fry your 328, you can install another one (rather than pitching the whole board).
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I'd advise you to get a DIP version of whatever board you buy, not a surface mount version. That way, if you fry your 328, you can install another one (rather than pitching the whole board).

Heh...  the only time I ever fried an mcu was BECAUSE it was a dip smiley  Handled it too much and shorter the pins on the underside...
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