Shopping List Help for Microcontroller Class

I'm teaching an embedded systems class and my students really got excited about Arduino. Several had used the hardware before and raved to the other students about the advantages.

I have a budget of $500. I would appreciate your comments on my shopping list:

6 Duemilanove @ $29.99 = $167.94 2 Mega @ 63.99 = $127.98 2 Motor Shields @ $18.00 = $36.00 1 Buzzer Module @ $9.00 1 DFRobot Prototyping Shield @ $13.00 3 4.8-46V Motor Controllers @ $22.00 = $66.00 1 Electronic Brick 16X2 LCD Display @ $12.50

So the $437 plus tax will stay under my budget. I want a good mix that allows the most students students to do basic projects. Students and I already have a large selection of resistors, capacitors, transistors, LEDs, etc. so don't need those.

Definitely a bunch of solderless breadboards, I didn't see you mention those.

Sooo useful for prototyping

I recommend getting a LOT of extra ATmega 328s for the Duemilanoves, and they are easy to fry if you wire something wrong (especially for beginners).

a giant spool of wire

WIRE+PROTOTYPING BOARD!!! I use 1 very large prototyping board and one standard size (with a power rail on each side). You will also want jumper cables and wire (either single-strand or multi-strand with soldered ends (so they stay rigid)). You will also want some other AVRs (like attinys) that you can stick into your breadboard projects. I keep a good supply of attiny2313s and a few attiny 25/45s. I can use these for easier breadboard integration, and you can program them with arduinoISP. I'm not sure why you would want 6 duemillanoves though... you might want to spend some of that cash on an oscilloscope. Maybe a cheap pocket one? Also, do you have a DMM? I assume you have a soldering iron... that's all I can think of for now. You might want to get some misc parts like sensors too.

If you're really teaching them - why not forget the pre-done Arduino boards entirely; go for standalone (using pre-bootloaded ATMegas), or if that is too austere - Bare Bones or Really Bare Bones?

You would save a lot of money (which could go into other things) and the students would learn far more, and not see the Arduino as something "magical" and "black box", but something that they could truly build for themselves!

Dump the motor shields and motor controllers - buy a bunch of cheap L298s - and use the pre-bootloaded ATMegas to design and build your own motor controller! Divide the class up; have one half build the motor controller, and the other half the controller that communicates with it. Allow for the natural interaction and idea passing/cross pollenation to occur; perhaps rotate the students so they all get a chance to work on both projects?

Purchase more basic components - potentiometers, microswitches, perhaps some ultrasonic and/or IR sensors with the extra money! And for wire? You can buy the expensive stuff, but the best is 24/48 pair stranded phone cable; plenty of colors, and cheap, cheap, cheap.

For $500.00, you should be able to do a lot better than what you spec'd out, IMHO.


bare bones boards don’t particularly reduce parts cost on a per-seat basis, since you need a USB cable for each seat as well. But I’d be included to replace the Mega boards with a couple such cables and a bunch of BBB or RBBB type boards, since (IMO) those would do a better job of conveying the whole “embedded” idea.

Buy a load of 16x2 HD44780 displays.

They are about $5 each including shipping off ebay. Don't get the electronic brick one...


Thanks for all the great replies!!!
I’m teaching in a college electronics program, so the students come well equipped with wire, LEDs, resistors, caps, etc. So that isn’t an issue.

I’m expecting shipment of the Arduino package soon, so I’ll have my students register here so they can use the forums in their projects.

If you like you can get your LCDs from here, as low as $7.95. Also if you don't really need motor controllers and motor drivers would be good enough, just use the arduino to control it, then you can get some of these around $7.50, that should save you some money. Only thing, TB6612FNG driver can handle only up to 13.5V.

If you like you can get your LCDs from here, as low as $7.95.

Please don't just post to advertise. We have already stated that LCDs can be purchased for under $5 including postage so your offer of $7.95 + p&p is not too appealing.