Attention All Arduino Fanatics: Need Help on What Kit I Should Purchase

Hello all,

My name is Laura, and I am currently on the hunt for the perfect Arduino kit to get my boyfriend for his birthday. He is junior in college (undergrad) and is majoring in Electrical Engineering. He doesn’t have any experience with any hands-on engineering work or research, but would like to get started, hence my search for the perfect Arduino kit. Also, I have absolutely no knowledge on anything that relates to engineering, circuits, programming, wires, etc. (I’m an English Literature major, so…) so I feel very ill-versed on the basics that I’d need to know to get the right kit for him. Feel free to recommend any other cool gift ideas as well. Any and all help/tips would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks in advance,

Laura

You'll need one that contains an Arduino, probably an Uno, a USB cable, a breadboard, some interconnect wires, some sensors, switches,LEDs, resistors and other output devices.

Pretty much any kit will have these things. If he starts building Arduino controlled stuff, irrespective of the kit you choose, he'll soon need more parts because he'll want to do a project that it doesn't cover.

So I'd suggest you search Amazon for "arduino kit" and pick whichever one suits your wallet. He'll need a multimeter pretty soon too.

Hello Laura.

Other than you and Electrical Engineering does your boyfriend have any any other interests that might intersect with electronics? Does he like things that blink? Things that move? Things that make sound?

This is a good place to start: http://www.adafruit.com/products/170

In fact, if you go to adafruit.com and browse the Arduino section, there are a few starter kits to choose from, and a whole list of add-on packs that will give him an easy introduction to whatever technology floats his boat: GPS, Bluetooth, audio, robotics, etc.

The things to look for are as follows: The Arduino board itself (Uno), at least one decent size breadboard for placing parts, a bunch of jumper wires, and a reasonable assortment of things to plug in.

Examples of the latter include resistors, LEDs, buttons, and knobs (also called pots, or potentiometers, or variable resistors) at the very least. Also nice are light and infrared sensors, motors, servos, temperature sensors, transistors, 2-line character LCD, maybe a solar cell, a little speaker, relays...

Checking off all these things isn't important, as they're easily sourced from the same site, hobby shops, electronics supply stores, or any number of other places online. No kit will have all you'll ever need, so further parts orders are inevitable. The key is to have enough parts to play with that you can run through some of the examples that come with the Arduino, and to have a collection to fall back on when you want to experiment down the road.

A good idea might be a starter kit like the one above, and a gift card to Adafruit or Sparkfun or similar, so he can pick up whatever else piques his interests.

I would recommend staying away from the more exotic Arduinos (the Mini, Mega, Yun, etc..) until he's had a chance to play with the Uno for a bit. When you're just starting out, your impressions of what you're going to "need" (in terms of hardware) are usually off, since you don't yet have a good frame of reference for what these things do. The Uno is a really great starter platform. It's cheap, ubiquitous, capable of quite a bit, and otherwise just the Goldilocks of microcontroller development. The other boards tend to fill specific needs rather than improve on the Uno in any substantial way -- at least for general purpose tinkering. Basically, when you reach the point of needing something else, you'll know, and have a better idea where to go next.

BTW, you're awesome for doing some research on all of this. He's a lucky guy. :)

Hey guys,

Thanks so much for all of the help so far, super helpful! I know he's been interested in getting into robotics and things like that, so I'm sure he'd be interested in making things blink and move.

Thanks again everyone!