Which board should I buy

So I'm new to arduino and I am curious to know which board I should buy.

What I want to do is create a light bar for anow emergency vehicle and also be able to control other strobes on a vehicle also.

And if possible be able to create a siren with a soundboard all on one platform with selector switches or some type of buttons.

Concept for the led light bar would be I can change the color of the light from red to blue or whatever color I chose and be able to createnjoy my own flash patterns. Maybe even have it controlled from Bluetooth or something.

I'd like to hear any body's thoughts on this and if anybody can guide me that would be great.

Ps. I'm new but have an understanding of programming.
Thanks, Jon.

Hi Jon,

Any basic Arduino like Uno, Nano or Pro Micro will have enough processing speed and memory for your application. The important question is how many pins will you need. You can add more pins to Uno, Nano etc by various means, but if you know from the outset that you will need more pins than smaller Arduino have, then it is sensible to chose an Arduino with more pins to begin with, like Mega. On the other hand it would be a waste to use a Mega and then only use a limited number of its pins.

So your first task is to figure out how many pins you will need. How many output pins for Leds and strobes, how many input pins for buttons & other controls. So make a list in your reply.


Any arduino should be appropriate, technically - your limit is just how many pins you need, and how many PWM channels you need.

Something with an extra serial port (Mega or Micro/Leo, or 1284p-based third party board) would make using bluetooth easier (so you don't have to use software serial with all the considerations that entails).

However - is this a life- or safety-critical device? The arduino is not rated for use in critical applications - just saying.

Also, give thought on how you plan to power everything.. from what? what are each components power requirements?


An Arduino will NOT be able to drive (power) most (if any) of these devices directly.. so you'll need some sort of driver board.. or MOSFET/TRANSISTOR type solution to toggle things using the Arduino..

You mention custom colors and animation/patterns.. which also suggests to me (at the very least) all RGB leds in your devices.. and/or individually addressable LED strip (ie: neopixels or dotstars..etc)

make a sketch of what you want to do. a light here.... a switch there....

draw up your complete operator panel, at least what you think you want.

draw up your location of lights on the vehicle,
then decide what will work with what.

Although the UNO is easier to use with shields, I think you will Find the MEGA offers more ease of use for a a project like this.

Also, you could use an UNO for the light bar and program in two dozen patterns, then have another UNO or MEGA to tell it to do pattern 17... or some such. a distributted control.