Noob question: How do I pick the right board?

Hoping someone can offer a little advice for my first Arduino project. I’m wanting to build something very simple for a start - light sensor to activate a servo (perhaps with a pot to fine-tune the threshold that triggers the servo). I’m just wondering what Arduino board you would recommend for a simple project like this.
Does the voltage of the board matter?
Thanks in advance for your help.


I’m quite a noob as well, and i thought about this for quite a while, and eventually i got the Duemilanove (if i spelt that right). It’s got everything I needed to learn and none of the other stuff…

Feel free to correct me :slight_smile:

I’d actually recommend starting with a Basic Stamp if you don’t have any experience programming. Stamps are a bit easier to program on.

Stamps have a lot of good educational tutorials on their web site

The down side to that that they cost more up front($80? vs $30), and if you blow it up, it cost MUCH more for a new chip ($40 vs. $5) for the arduino.

I started with the Arduino NG and recently ordered a Seeeduino v1.1 because if can run both on 3.3 and 5V. For some projects, this might be handy to have.

Hi Andy,

Any of the Arduino boards that have a USB connection would be suitable, for example the [u]Duemilanove[/u].

The project you have in mind is an excellent way to begin. Each of the aspects you mentioned can be implemented with a few lines of code, there are many tutorials available that will help you understand how to connect things up and get the code working.

There are so many of variants out there, but a Duemilanove or Diecimila is a good starting point, as are a few Freeduinos with the same form factor, USB, and voltage regulators.

I was wondering about variants last week so put together a chart of 32 available Arduino-compatible boards on my little Arduino blog-- Jeff's Arduino Blog: Comprehensive Arduino-Compatible Hardware List?

It grew to 41 in a more detailed spreadsheet for comparing criteria, including a few boards that are questionably “Arduino-compatible” in terms of having the bootloader and/or not making all “regular” pins available for general use-- that’s the “maybe not?” column. :wink:

Good luck and happy hacking!


This is what I picked to start with since I had no interest in “shields”. It worked out great for me. Boarduino - Breadboard-compatible Arduino Clone

For starting out, get whatever is the official standard model, which currently is the Duemilanove. By the time you finish developing your project, you’ll have learned about why you need the features offered or eliminated by the different variants, and which one to use for putting it into permanent use. Usually you can put a cheaper variant into production, because some of the more useful development features (USB perhaps) may not be needed.

For example, I started out with the Diecemila, and still use it for my main Arduino when I’m working on a project. One of my projects is being permanently installed in a RBBB, while another is going on a MaxSerial Freeduino.

But I’d still start out with a standard model because you’ll get the best help from others here. Kind of like learning to walk before you try to run. :slight_smile:

I also started out with the tutorials here:

In fact, once I found those tutes, I saw how easy it was to get started on Arduino that I bought one of those starter kits.

Thank you all for your advice. General consensus seems to be the Duemilanove, which is convenient since my local (Singapore) retailer stocks it.

It grew to 41 in a more detailed spreadsheet for comparing criteria

That’s pretty nice. You might want to include the versions that are available as “bare board” (PCB only, no other parts) separately (twice, if they’re available as kits and bare boards.)

salsaman: you have an erron in your list. illuminato doesn’t use an expander. it infact saves the user from using an expander

Ah, thank you daradude! I corrected the spreadsheet and chart. I misread the descriptions when putting the list together; thought there was a built-in port expander but just reread the info and looked through the schematics-- the pins are all native ATmega645 pins!

@westw: Thanks, good suggestion about adding PCBs. I was really just trying to find all available variants and their features, though-- would rather spend time coding than revising the spreadsheet :wink: