Not sure where to start or what board to get

I've been teaching myself how to program for a few months now and I'm going to college to get my degree in Computer Science next month. I've also been through some basic electronic courses thanks to the USAF.

I'm looking for a board with the most possibilities. I would like to tinker and experiment with the board so I'm not sure exactly what I am looking for except for the fact that I know I don't want to buy another board later once i find out the board i am using is missing the feature I'm wanting to try out next (if one board has everything, if not then that's fine). I'm also wondering what accessories I will need or ones that are the most useful/has the most uses. Lastly, where is a good/cheapest place to purchase those items from.

Thank you for your time. Hope this was the right place to ask these questions.

I'm looking for a board with the most possibilities.

I'm sorry but that is a moving target,

The fun of arduino is that resources are restricted but price is too and there exist a zillion shields to expand the board - http://shieldlist.org/ - so you never have to think again what to ask for your birthday ;)

Once your knowledge grows your projects will too, so nothing will last forever except the fun of tinkering !

Rob

Get a Mega2560. Add the Ethernet shield and buy some I2C temperature(DSB1820?), pressure (BMP085) and accelerometer (MMA7361, BMA180) sensors -- maybe even a GPS. That should give you many hours of fun.

And the Arduino Cookbook... by Margolis (O'Reilly)

The 2560 has the most analog ports (so you can blow a couple like I did) and lots of digital pins and timers, 256 K of flash and 8K SRAM (Ny biggest sketch only used 2K SRAM and 20K flash so far).

Cheapest place? Depends on where you are?

Look here for sensors and ideas... http://www.hvwtech.com/ http://www.sparkfun.com/ http://creatroninc.com/ http://www.robotshop.com/ca/ (CA or in the USA)

Then you can buy another one....

Buy the Screw Terminal "Wings" -- easy to hook up then.

Thank you for the replies. I am currently living in Florida.

That’s not a country.

The Duemilanove is a good board for beginners. sporting 6 analog inputs 13 digital I/O pins 6 of which are PWM capable. I plan to get the 2600 when I've mastered the code, and have the dough to buy it. I found my board on Ebay for $20+free shipping, but I had to wait 4 Weeks for it, because it came from china. The chinese have the best prices I've seen so far. So check out Ebay, you might find what you are looking for at a reasonable price. Good Shopping :)

Just buy a starters kit, you'll find plenty stores in:

http://arduino.cc/en/Main/Buy

And certainly buy the Arduino Cookbook (as mentioned before). You'll have more then enough to start with.

If you want to do web-based stuff, buy an Ethernet Shield if you want to measure, buy sensors if want to make stuff move, look into motors ans arduino driven robots if want to lighten things up, buy leds and so on ...

If you are really into Computer Science and want a platform to test and learn a few important concepts in microcontrollers/microprocessors, the Mega2560 is the way to go.

First, because it has all the peripherals the 2009 or Uno has. And second because it offers an almost endless (within 56kB of memory) possibility of expansion. Want to build an RTC, just get a 32,768kHz and the Mega board has what it takes (except backup power supply) to do it. Want more pins? Get a port expansion chip. Want a faster webserver? Connect the W5100 chip through the memory bus. Want more memory, it's just another chip. :)

It's not cheap, but provided you don't blow it up, it's what currently gives you more possibilities to test and learn quite a few important concepts in computer science like the external memory bus, or most importantly, the external memory bus.