COMPLAINT: Starter kit components not fitting

Yes, thanks BranchofLight! I saw this written in a post whilst looking for the reason that #7 doesn't work properly either, and tried it, seems to work. That said the servo's wires are on the plastic block in a different order to the book so even with the header pins it still couldn't have worked :frowning:

Yes, thanks BranchofLight! I saw this written in a post whilst looking for the reason that #7 doesn't work properly either, and tried it, seems to work. That said the servo's wires are on the plastic block in a different order to the book so even with the header pins it still couldn't have worked :frowning:

If you just mean the order of the 3 wires from the servo into the pins then you simply have to wire it on the breadboard to compensate for the change.

Yes and that's what I did, but you know when you buy a book as part of a learning kit it's really not entirely unreasonable to expect them to be as illustrated :).

Yes and that's what I did, but you know when you buy a book as part of a learning kit it's really not entirely unreasonable to expect them to be as illustrated :).

Of course not, but you could look at these small obstacles as the book giving you a chance to flex your problem solving muscles XD

Nice positive spin there - and generally yes I'm very persistent at problem solving. I think though when you're completely new to something, problem solving, even simple things, is asking quite a lot, that's surely not really the appropriate stage for this. I hadn't even put a circuit together before this time last week.

I'm surprised the book doesn't actually have a decent section in it about problem solving! explaining such things as the cables being the wrong colour, the diagrams being wrong, the components not being as described, the components not fitting. Why is this though? I mean itseems a reallyreLly basic ting to get colours and fittings and wire order right, just a case of QC andspeccing. Are these kits assembled by 3rd party people? How accurate is the spec they're sent? In the drive to minimise cost, has component quality been compromised a bit too much?

One thing I'm starting to wonder a lot about is the breadboard actually, just because another guy said he bought a new one and it worked straight away. And some of myissues could be explained by this too.

Mind you I haveno experience at this whatsoever soI could be talkingcomplete b*llocks. Maybe I'm clutching at straws, we'll see as I progress.

So I'm up to project 10 now, but the story is still the same - dealing with incorrect circuits because of bad fitting components actually takes up more time than the exercise or the sketch. Exercise 10 ended up taking a frustrating 3 hrs because I had to add debug output to see if the items were working, then hunt around for a place that the H bridge would settle properly. On the upside it's made me teach myself to solder in order to fix the motor whose lead came off and add header pins to pots & switches to make them seat properly.

I just completed project #5 and had many of the same problems you've identified. While I've had some electronics training (undergrad electrical course more than two decades ago), I am by no means an expert.

The most frustrating part so far is the components not staying in the board (especially the buttons and the potentiometer). In order to make the project work properly, I had to keep my finger pressed on the potentiometer, pushing it down into the board and ensuring proper contact was made. I haven't gone down the route of soldering on leads as I would really like it if the pieces sat on the board (like shown in the diagrams).

I wonder if crimping the rectangular pins into more of a square cross-section would help them fit? But you'd have to be very careful you don't break them instead.

Sorry to hear the kits been a little frustrating for you Nass but overcoming these problems, is what proto-typing is all about. It is fair to say I have a bit of experience with prototyping but it was 20 years ago.

I was really impressed with the selection of components in the starter kit and the book that came with it. A little light on detail for me personally but very clear, with instructions which are about as easy to follow as they can be. There are still some challenges that just have to be accepted though.

  • Components which are made to be soldered into PCBs, won't always fit well in a push down breadboard.
  • Components are manufactured in batches. So when the distributor of the exact part runs low on stock, you sometimes have to find an alternative which is close enough. If you have already printed a couple thousand books detailing the part, well something has to give.
  • Once you get into a project with more than a few connections and more than a few lines of code, the chances of getting it right first time are pretty low and you will have to debug your work, patiently and methodically.
  • Murphy's law says you will never have all your link wires, the right colour and the right length :wink:

But, if you have the patience to negotiate the learning curve, designing and building your own circuits can be a really rewarding pastime.

A couple of tips which may help you;

  • As you progress through the projects, try to get a feel for working from the schematics, rather than just duplicating the project photos.
  • Blu-tack can help seat awkward components on a bread board.
  • Get yourself a few meters of bell-wire (1/06) and start making your own links.
  • Awkward components you use a lot (chips and trim pots), can be soldered permanently into strip board (aka Vero board) with flying leads for connecting to a breadboard.
  • Get yourself a basic (cheap) Digital Multi-Meter. You want one that measures DC Volts, Ohms and has a continuity buzzer. Simple to use and about the most useful diagnostic tool you will ever buy.


Overcoming problems and problem solving are definitely part of any learning experience, but in my humble opinion a starter kit isn't the place for that. A decent starter kit should work, full stop - components should fit and illustrations should be accurate. If the instructions are out of date, add a supplementary 'update' booklet!Overlooking this, sure, the starter kit is a good introduction - I've definitely learned a lot.

But spending hours and hours, over about half the projects, wondering why completely correct circuits and sketches didn't work only to discover it was the bad breadboard design didn't add anything whatsoever. Once I bought a new breadboard all the circuits worked very quickly... much more encouraging and exciting to a beginner than stuff that doesn't work!

I am new to Arduino but not electronics and I expected problems with the starter kit.
One problem I encountered is the pot supplied with the kit. It's marked as 10k but in reality is 50k as measured by a multimeter. Couldn't figure out why the LCD "hello world" project wouldn't work. In fact it was working but the LCD backlight was too dim to see.


Wow... that's a pretty big one to screw up. You could put a 10K resistor in parallel with the pot and that would make the total resistance always less than 10K. But, yes, it should have came with the proper pot.


  1. The reason the potentiometer base doesn't fit well is because of the pin shapes. They're metal strips that measure 1.05mm wide and .29mm thick at the breadboard end, but this thin shaft is only 3.9mm long at which point the width broadens to 1.98mm. I do not have a tool to measure the breadboard holes; that wider shaft doesn't fit in the hole but the length of thin shaft isn't long enough to make contact unless you push it down hard.

Presumably I need to solder header pins onto the ends to make it work as intended. I don't have the first clue about soldering, anyone throw me a bone?

You can actually fix it very easy without soldering. The reason the potentiometer doesn't fit well is that the holes in the breadboard are actually not round, but slits. The slits are horizontal, whereas the male pins of the potentiometer are vertical. If you take a small plier and carefully rotate the thinner bottom half of the potentiometer pins by 45° they will fit nicely. I just came across this while doing Project 05 of the starter kit. Honestly, I think these minor misalignments are part of the beauty of the kit, it's you are working with off the shelf components, not with something 100% pre-baked for you.

I agree, and what's more is that actually hacking it is poor engineering, and especially if the right way is readily available.
I think a desperate enough situation combined with that knowledge of how it looks, and feels having been done right, that anyone will find a way.

For what it's worth, thanks to nass, this was annoying me as well. Yes, sure, one could hack your way around it and be all kumbayah about it - and I mean, I have all the sympathy in the world for Arduino, don't get me wrong - but it's really just unnecessarily irritating. Again, FWIW, just one (more) guy here, but I think getting these details right - especially for a starter kit where the user is still building up understanding and might not have the problem-solving skills to play around with - should be a priority and not something to just gloss over.

Yeah I got some components that did not fit either. I will take a pair of pliers and twist the pot. I also tried to do the temperature project but I couldn’t find the correct component? I also broke the rgb led. :< So I skipped two projects. I ordered a batch of 50 rgb led’s for $3.61 so I won’t have that problem again.

I heard Radio shack sold component parts so I’ll take my breadboard up and look for a pot and maybe a bigger breadboard. male header pins and one of those multimeters.

You actually have to resize these yourself. I got a strong pair of pliers with an end good for grabbing and took the plastic part of the headers and pushed the pins until the size was appropriate. It took a bit of work but I eventually found a size that fit the servo on one end and the breadboard on the other perfectly. Your solution is fine too though. Whatever works

Ive had the same issue and solved it the same way. The pins are not “glued” in the plastic part, they are just pushed through it. It might feel hard to pull 3 or 5 together, but one by one its easy with a pliers. Pull out all of them, one by one, then push them in, one by one. Putting the plastic right in the middle (so either side is equal in length) worked for me. Do not use your fingers.

Wow, thank you, all the three pots provided by the kit sit snugly in the breadboard now.
I noticed that it is because of the orientation because if I plug it in the other way it fits well. But I never thought about twisting the pins.

P.S. I twisted the top by 45 degrees and the bottom by 90 degrees to make it completely parallel to the slit. 45-degree turn at the bottom still causes the pots to pop.

For the header pins I simply slid the plastic part with hand, with the pins against a table.

Hi, I am a total newbie working through the Arduino Projects Book to learn about electronics and have had a few of the same problems described in this thread. In all cases, so far, I've been able to figure out how to keep going with the project. I must agree, however, with the above commenter who stated that the pedagogical value in figuring this stuff out is not worth it at this early stage when I'm still learning what a resistor, capacitor, etc. does.

My recommendation is that Scott Fitzgerald and Michael Shiloh, the editors, open source the document (probably the .tex and .sty files) that compiles into this book and the vector version of the figures. I would have been happy to fix some of the little errors I found if it were as simple as forking a github repo and waiting for the maintainer to merge.


As far as I can tell the Starter Kit is now produced by so you might want to put your suggestion to them.


As far as I can tell the Starter Kit is now produced by so you might want to put your suggestion to them.

No it is not, I have a Genuino Starter kit now, and after three years I have exactly the same problems!!!! No one care about solving these issues? One buy the starter kit to have all the components they need just in hand, though they cost much more than buying separately, and gets them wrong.... This is really annoying!!! >:(