What to get starting out?

Hello, I’ve been shown Arduino by a friend who’s getting it and I’d like to get a bit of feedback from you guys before I start convincing my parents to let me get one.

What should I buy when starting out? I am most interested it operating it wirelessly from my computer… but I really have no idea where to start. Is there a good site to let me know what my options are when first purchasing Arduino?

Also, I am a total beginner in physical electronics, but have no problem coding.

Hallo,

here is an overview of the available official hardware:
http://arduino.cc/en/Main/Hardware

I would start with an Arduino Duemilanove or Diecimila. Does not cost much and you can try many interesting programs (called sketches). The boards connect to the USB port. If you find it fun to play with the Arduino then you might want to upgrade with a XBee shield later.

And get some electronic parts from a local distributor, at least some LEDs and wires would be nice for the start. Maybe the distributor where you buy the Arduino has also a start kit with electronic components. Where are you from?

I always need lots of wire, so get lots of wire with different colors! ( 22AWG = diameter 0.644mm and 0.325mm2, solid core). Dealing with wires needs a wire-cutter. Scissors don’t really do a good job and sooner or later drive you crazy. A breadboard is also never a bad choice for experimenting without having to do any soldering. A basic multimeter (volts,ohms,amps,diode tester, continuity tester) is nice to have too. Some sort of container to keep the small parts neat and orderly. Old jam glasses work too and come for free. There are arduino-kits/starter kits out there, so just look what they contain and think about it. Working with colorful LEDs is always fun.

There’s adafruit.com / sparkfun.com /seeedstudio.com - just to name a few I’ve shopped at before.

I would suggest that it may be worthwhile to find a local Arduino group that meets up somewhere. That way, you’ll be able to see the hardware and get a better idea of what it can do. And, you’ll have a support group nearby if/when things get confusing. Is there a Dorkbot group in your area?

Thanks for the replies! To answer your questions, I live in St. Louis, Missouri and no, there isn’t a dorkbot group there. In my school we have a FIRST Robotics club but it doesn’t look like that uses Arduino.

I think I’ll start out with messing with LEDs and see where I go from there with the wires and all. Thanks a ton!

If you don’t have much in the way of parts, I’d suggest starting out with a Seeeduino catalyst pack from www.seeedstudio.com/depot. It includes a huge assortment of parts you’ll find useful for early projects.

I started out with Adafruit’s starter kit and tutorials, which are awesome. They’re very approachable and they give satisfying results quickly.

But if I were starting all over again, I’d think about that catalyst pack. I think Ada’s tutorials would still work with what’s provided in the pack.

The book Making Things Talk covers wireless topics, so that might be a good resource for you before buying anything specific.

I’m in St. Louis too, but I’m not in any clubs or anything.

Adafruit’s tutorials are excellent. I’d recommend those with the catalyst pack. I bought a couple of diecimilas when I started, and the Seeeduino is the only clone variant of the basic board I like better (special function ones like illuminato excepted) ;). The amount and selection of parts in the catalyst pack is excellent for the price, and they offer free shipping.

Great!

I have bookmarked the Catalyst pack and the tutorial page, but would you recommend I wait until there is a pack for the Arduino Mega, or does the pack not include the Arduino itself? (It’s kind of hard to tell what everything is and is not when you’re clueless.)

The Catalyst starter kit and Ladyada’s kit both include an Arduino (well Seeeduino for the catalyst).

I wouldn’t suggest waiting for the Mega and I doubt there will be a starter pack for it. The Mega is exactly the same board just with a lot more IO lines and memory. To start out you don’t need either, so it’s better to keep it simpler. The Mega isn’t a starter board, and it certainly isn’t a replacement for the normal Arduino.

Try not to feel clueless, everyone had to start somewhere. Feel free to ask questions here.

Thanks for your help, everyone. I just bought the Catalyst pack… I can’t wait until it gets here.