Seeking Review of Starter Package

Hey everyone! I'm an engineering student in the U.S. looking to get into working with microcontrollers and hobbyist electronics, and the name that always popped up in conversations with friends was Arduino, so I'm looking into buying one.

I started shopping around for starter kits, and a few stood out to me - namely the hacktronics one and Arduino's own, but the former seemed a bit skimpy and the latter costs a boatload to ship to the U.S. I did find one that I really liked though, and I was wondering if I could get a quick review on the suitability of the Adafruit "Budget Pack for Arduino (Arduino Uno R3) - Uno w/328" in terms of a beginner's package. I understand it's a bit smaller than the full starter pack, but that's a college budget. If anyone could weigh in and give me some advice, I'd be very appreciative. Thanks for the help! :)

(Here's the link for the Adafruit pack: Thanks again!)

The Adafruit Budget Pack is hmm very basic... In my opinion a bit to much. Cause after a few beginner tutorials, you do want to make more stuff. I would go for a pack that has a bit more components.

You might want to check out places like makershad or robotshop And on Ebay you can sometimes find nice deals also.

Good Luck!

It looks good to me. I might be able to buy the parts separately for less, and you probably already have a USB cable... But, I wouldn't say the price is unreasonable.

The only thing that might be "missing" is a book. You're not going to find anything in a book that you can't find online, but sometimes as a beginner it's nice to have a book (or a class) to keep your study & experimenting organized.

If you are going to experiment with electronics, the breadboard is something that you're going to need anyway. I've had a couple of those for about 20 years! (And, I've used the same kind of breadboard for a few permanent-projects.) The other parts are good to have in your "parts box" too.

If you get an idea for a project that needs something else, like a relay or an op-amp, you can always buy those separately.

And, you are probably going to need a power supply at some point. For example, if you want to run the Arduino while not connected to the computer, or if you need something other than 5V, or if you need more current than you can get from the USB port. Most of the time I've just built a power supply for whatever project I was working on at the moment... I figure it's going to need one anyway, so I usually start by building the supply. You may be able to use a "wall wart" depending on your needs, but personally I don't think I've ever taken that approach. Or, some projects can run off batteries. A couple of years ago I built a "bench supply" that has +5V and +/-15V. But, I've rarely used it. (I do use a bench supply at work everyday.)

Hey everyone! I'm an engineering student in the U.S. looking to get into working with microcontrollers and hobbyist electronics, and the name that always popped up in conversations with friends was Arduino...

It's the perfect choice for hobbyists & students. With other microcontrollers, you sometimes end-up having to buy a development board, maybe a separate programmer, and a software development kit. Depending on the chip you choose, it could cost $500 or more just to get started! With the Arduino, you get the board with the USB port and bootloader already programmed, the SDK/compiler is free, and you just plug it in and go!

The one thing that seems strange to me about the Arduino, is that you don't directly read/writeb ytes or words I/O ports... You read/write one pin at a time...

Just a note to continue where DVDdoug left off.

You can get 9V switch mode wallwarts these days that can deliver over an amp of current. Which is plenty for an Arduino. Personally, I use USB only for programming. The limitations of USB are many and can vary from system to system and the result can be 'unique' behavior. I've just spent too much time trying to figure out what went wrong only to find that the USB supply was not up to the task.

My advice, get a good wallwart (I think Adafruit sell a good one) to go with your kit. Always use it and save yourself the lost time and trouble.

That take me back in my college days at DeVry - Toronto ( EET ) in 1990’s. :roll_eyes:

I understand money is a big issue. First, when I was looking for parts, cheap anyway, I when downtown to check the electronics stores - mostly week-ends ( if I have the money ) and take appart a few e-garbage I found in the street and purchase at the surplus store.

I don’t know what you have on hand, but you need tools, Breadboard <— A MUST , wires ( solid type ). You can “make” an Arduino - Breadboard version with : ATMEGA328P with bootload, 16 MHz crystal ← see for the connection and a USB to TTL board. You can use a RS232 port from a PC ← If you got one and make one RS232 to TTL using a MAX232 chip, with some caps and you are in business… And you need a lots of resistors ( 330, 1 K, 10k ) and caps ( 0.1 uF , 22 pF ) and PSU ← 7805, 10uF, 0.1 uF for stand alone and need to program if you use a RS232. A 4.5 V battery pack will work.

Because, when you have no money…you have to be inventive and lean how to do things… The McGiver methode…cheap and home-made. Shop around, look around

Look at the package and determine if most of the parts are something you want. If so, buy it.

Wasting a couple of days creating spreadsheets to save $2 or $3 doesn't make much sense.

If you have almost no hardware to get started, any starter kit is of high value. After you get started is when you can start to spend some time looking for the right "next" pieces.

I just wanted to thank everyone for the input, especially about getting the wall adapter - I added that to my order, and I’m sticking with the budget pack…as much as I’d like to get more, I’m going to have to take Techone’s approach and scrounge up the rest around school (there’s pretty much nothing in the way of electronics shops nearby, as it’s a somewhat rural area, but I can probably requisition cheap stuff through the robotics team I’m part of…I just wanted my own Arduino to experiment with). Thanks again for the help!!! XD

~ Tonysdg

Your willingness to start small and then build up as you can will take you far. Engineering demands inquisitiveness and resourcefulness - developing these traits at the beginning is going to be a boon for your career.