Laptop Specifications

Hi All.

From January 2020, my school will be introducing Arduino to our curriculum. Can someone please advise what should the laptop specifications be so that we use Arduino.

Thanks

Just about anything with a USB port will do the job

Obviously faster, more memory, large hard disk etc is preferable but not strictly needed

Thank you for the advice.

Yes any recent windows, Linux, macOS - it all will work. Look at the other needs from the school to fine tune the decision process

For the arduino side, stay away from tablets, small netPC and chomebooks. Whilst somewhat 'workable' it does not offer a great experience and you want to concentrate on getting the work done, not fighting with the system

In my experience it is useful to get a laptop with more USB sockets. Mine has 3 and I often use them all, and a USB hub.

...R

kquickfall:
should the laptop specifications be so that we use Arduino.

The humblest laptop will suffice, as Arduino makes no special demands, just so long as it runs a proper operating system like Windows, MacOS, or even Linux. As a school, the last thing you need is to be fooled into requiring something special. My laptop was made in 2002.

Nick_Pyner:
a proper operating system like Windows, MacOS, or even Linux.

Shouldn't that be

a proper operating system like Linux or even Windows, MacOS.

:slight_smile: :slight_smile:

More seriously the school could get 2 or 3 cheap used laptops and install Linux on them. The only downside with a used laptop is battery life but the school will probably be using it while connected to the mains so that would not matter.

...R

Shouldn't that be

a proper operating system like Linux or MacOS - even Windows…

  1. ;D

Robin2:
In my experience it is useful to get a laptop with more USB sockets. Mine has 3 and I often use them all, and a USB hub.

...R

Very true - anyone doing any sort of actual embedded development will run out of USB ports all the time - but I think this is less of a consideration for a school setting - though you need at least 2, one for an external mouse, and one for the arduino. School settings tend to have lots of people doing the very basics (though depending on how advanced the curriculum gets in the program you're planning, this may not be true? Like, if it's a magnet school or school with strong program for advanced students...). If it's a "normal" school, using Arduino as a teaching aid for programming concepts and as a way to try to show students how cool programming can be, you're not going to have people crying out for more USB ports.

If you've got people in the other sciences using arduino for advanced projects, or generally going really deep into embedded development, that's a different story - and suddenly you need to think about what platform you're going to use for getting data from arduino sensors into the computer for data analysis (we have a forum section for that!). I generally have a mouse, a programmer of some sort, and at least one serial adapter plugged in for a minimum development configuration. But that's when I'm only using one device. If I want to spy on communication to and from a bluetooth adapter, that's 2 serial adapters right there, in addition to everything else - the number of serial adapters adds up fast. I recently had a serial adapter in every port of a 4-port hub, plus I think one plugged into the USB port directly. Or was it two plugged straight into USB ports? Something absurd like that.

But I digress. I imagine in a school, you'll have a mouse in one port, the arduino in the second, and the student will probably want to put in a USB thumb drive to carry data out, so that implies that three is the minimum.

My off the cuff analysis of OS:
Considering what school budgets are, we can probably write off mac unless they give a truly massive discount.
Considering the competence of the IT department schools generally get, relative to the the skill of students at breaking technology, we can write off linux as well.
ChromeOS has been written off above.

Thus, I claim that the requirements for the laptops would be a windows machine with at least three USB ports and which meets all other requirements of the curriculum for which they will be used, with attention paid to durability because they will be in the hands of students.

Also, while we're on the subject of equipment for Arduino in schools, I have several additional thoughts:

  • Use cheap arduino clones (CH340G), or at least have a pile of them on standby and ensure drivers for them are installed on the computers. It is (due to the 16u2 used on official boards being particularly easy to damage) very easy to trash official boards if you screw up the power connections, and inexperienced students are very good at doing this. We constantly have posts from students who blew out the serial adapter on their Uno, frequently without enough time to get a replacement shipped.
  • For the love of god, get a stockpile of decent USB cables. There is a plague of terribad USB cables in the hobby electronic market, and I am pretty sure that the blue translucent ones that are included with most kits are the bad ones here. Hell, you could probably do a donation drive at the beginning of the year asking for people's old USB printer/etc cables and get plenty. But you should expect bad USB cables to be a thing.

DrAzzy:
Considering what school budgets are, we can probably write off mac unless they give a truly massive discount.
..
Thus, I claim that the requirements for the laptops would be a windows machine with at least three USB ports and which meets all other requirements of the curriculum for which they will be used, with attention paid to durability because they will be in the hands of students.

Well we would need to qualify again what type of school it is as that's not how many schools work. You don't look at front cost analysis, you look at cost of ownership and teaching value.

When you start adding cost for anti-virus, support, MSFT various licensing fees (that you don't have on Linux or the Mac or chrombooks), and the residual values for mac — you'll understand why many school still have Mac actually (plus the fact that you can run Window, Linux and macOS on those machines if needed).

You'll find many "developer" oriented schools have tons of Macs actually

Here is the 42-born-to-code-school in Paris

or in san francisco

What I have seen though is more an more chrome books and iPad in smaller sections / schools, laptops tend to go away - and parents are being ask to fund those... In my view they are not great for Arduino (iPad does not work, chromebook experience is fishy)