So I am an Arduino Noob... really... Only way to put that!
I have some basic programming experience - but I am in the need of something to fill that need of mine to have projects to tinker on and problem solve... with that respect - I think Arduino will be fantastic for me.
I have picked up the 30 projects for the evil genius book - and would like to get rolling on ordering some pieces.
BUT - I need to keep my initial purchases as cheap as possible for now - wife would be really crabby if I started buying a lot of stuff for another new hobby!
Therefore - I wanted to ask you - what is the best way to get the pieces needed to get started. Is the UNO board the best bet? Where would you order it? I noticed kits on eBay - relatively cheap - and seem to ship out of China. I also peeked in at Radio Shack - and they have the bread boards, resistors, led, IR, etc - so getting parts as needed is an option - but will that be way more expensive as you pay more for the onesies twosies?
Ebay has this:http://cgi.ebay.com/Arduino-DIY-Starter-Kit-Duemilanove-ATmega-328-LCD-1602-/150634290197?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item231280dc15#ht_3742wt_971
I am not opposed to spending money on this - but I would rather choose more wisely who I support financially.
(does that make sense? If I can support the people who are actually making the boards - i would rather buy from them.) I have looked at the LilyPad products etc - but - anyway... I am just looking for the best "getting started" advice any of you might have time to offer!
(Also - I paged back a few to see some of the older threads and didn't notice anything that might fit what I am looking for - so if this thread exists - would love to be pointed in the right spot.)
I would start with an actual UNO for the Arduino portion; it's more expensive than other options, but it is "standard" - go with SparkFun or another well-known "name" company that sells them (Seeed Studios is also a good option, as well AdaFruit, and some others).
Now - as far as the kits are concerned - take a look at the kits, and make note of the parts in each, how many "pieces" for each, etc. Then do some shopping via surplus outlets - I've had the best luck via these three companies (YMMV):http://www.allelectronics.com/http://www.alltronics.com/http://www.goldmine-elec.com/
Now - some parts (like certain ICs) you may have trouble finding, and for some parts you may get a better deal off Ebay (like resistors/capacitors and other type parts) - the only problem may be getting too many of what you want to get. So - just spend the time looking for the components, who has the best deals, etc. It will take a bit of time, maybe a couple of weeks, but it will be worth it.
You'll end up with the same or better kit, and probably will spend much less.
Here's another "secret": Check out local thrift stores (Goodwill, Savers, etc), as well as yard sales - for cheap junk that parts can be had out of (if you're willing to do some work): Toy R/C vehicles are great for building robots with ($5.00-10.00), certain Polaroid cameras (Sun 660, Spectra) have nice ultrasonic rangers in them; you'll have to do some work to get them to work properly with the Arduino, though - they aren't "plug-n-play" - send me a PM if you are interested in more info ($5.00-10.00), old printers and scanners are good for stepper motors and other things ($10.00-25.00), then there's always the weird electronics and other pieces that people drop off. Also keep an eye out for rechargeable power-tools; drills, for instance, have great high-power gearmotors that are perfect for certain robotics needs. There's also junked/broken joysticks, gamepads, etc (tons of PS1 and PS2 pads). Pricing will vary, and you'll have to look carefully to know whether you are getting something good or a bit of junk (but most places will allow returns - Goodwill has a good return policy - just keep your receipts).
Also - if you have bulk-trash pickup in your area, learn the schedule, then use that to go out "junkin" - finding out what people are throwing away; sometimes you may land on something really worthwhile (I've found plenty of old computers this way, among other things). Another possibility (though only quasi-legal, depending on your location) is to hunt around the dumpster areas around businesses (especially business/industrial parks) - if you have a car (or even better, a truck), troll around and you'll inevitably find places where businesses have dumped old computers, printers, and other "junk". Grab a few boxes if you can find them, and if security comes around, explain to them that you are in the process of moving, and are looking for boxes (having a few on hand helps the ruse). If they tell you to leave, then leave, and don't return. Be courteous, and don't argue. There's always someplace else around the corner. Also - note if there are any cameras or locks on the dumpsters in the area (a daytime recon can help here); if there are, don't return to the area later. Finally, stay away from any large industrial concerns in your area (if you ever want some fun, attempt to get close to the fenced, locked, and camera-up'd dumpster at a place like Motorola after midnight - the gestapo in those places are really on the ball!). Some localities have laws against "trash-digging", so keep that in mind as well. I have found though, that as long as you play nice (and play a bit stupid) with the security in the regular business areas, you won't be harassed much (most will just tell you to leave - but more often than not, they'll just tell you not to make a mess - which you shouldn't anyhow - put back all garbage you dig out, leave the area cleaner than when you arrived).