Comes with a Make magazine guidebook for beginning and intermediate projects. Has enough components for 15 projects and a convenient Uno R3 pin-out chart. Great for hands-on learning.
Premium price tag. Some components with limited use.
Comes with over 200 different pieces including modules, sensors, wires, readouts, and more. Easy to create and program many different types of projects without spending money on new components.
Lacks in-depth instructions to make use of all the pieces.
Comes as a complete kit that doesn't require any extra parts or accessories to start using. Includes a handy manual and lesson guide to teach you the beginning points of programing in Arduino.
Lacks advanced components like sensors.
Comes with an extremely detailed and clear instruction guide. The guide is broken down into 28 specific lessons so you will learn basic and advance Arduino concepts all from 1 kit.
The kit pieces are easy to lose when not organized.
We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.
Have you ever been struck by inspiration to create a much-needed gadget that would simplify the lives of millions? Many people are, but they don’t pursue turning those ideas into products because it's too complicated and costly to make a prototype. An Arduino kit allows you to take a brilliant idea and create a fully functional gadget — even if you have limited knowledge of engineering or programming.
The best Arduino kits come with a vast assortment of components, so you are not limited in any way. You get sensors, displays, motors, and more. Additionally, you will want to look for a kit that includes a large number of projects and tutorials, so you can learn how to get the most out of all of your components.
If you're curious, we're here to help. Following is a guide that will hit all the bullet points so you have a solid grasp on how incredible these little kits are.
If you are just learning about Arduino kits, they can seem overwhelming and intimidating. Think of each kit as its four main elements: a microcontroller, software, components, and tutorials. It's the variations within the last two elements (components and tutorials) that allow you to do so much and make the most of your kit.
The microcontroller is the heart of your kit. This is where you physically build your gadget. The microcontroller is typically the Arduino UNO R3 board. If for any reason that is not what is included, be sure that the board in your kit is fully compatible with the UNO R3. This board will contain digital inputs/outputs, analog inputs, a timing crystal, power connections, a power regulator, a USB input, and more. The UNO board features a standard design so it can be effortlessly updated.
What makes Arduino kits remarkably easy to use is that you can do all of the coding on your computer and simply connect it to your microcontroller via a USB connector to make it work. All the starter kits come with the needed software. And, if for any reason you get a kit that doesn't, it's free to download for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Alternatively, you can do your coding online.
This is where kits begin to differ. The components are the parts that allow you to create in a variety of ways. Possible components include LEDs, resistors, a breadboard, a dot matrix display, motors, and much more. If you are interested in creating a prototype that uses a light sensor, for instance, be sure that the kit you are considering has a light sensor included, or you will need to purchase it separately.
This is how you learn to use your Arduino kit. Even if you've never built a prototype or written code, the tutorials are there to help you gain a working knowledge of all the components in your kit.
There are only a few other factors you'll need to understand in order to have a solid foundation on how to choose the Arduino kit that is best for you.
Because Arduino kits use off-the-shelf components, there is no functional difference between an original brand kit and a clone kit. In fact, oftentimes the only way you can tell the difference is by a single, specially commissioned component that is gold in color. This component is located right next to the USB input on the UNO R3 board. If it is not gold, you know you are dealing with a clone. When you purchase an original brand Arduino kit, you are paying a premium that goes to support research and outreach programs, which make the original brand kit cost a little more.
Some of the Arduino kits are designed to create a specific project such as a robot or a remote-controlled vehicle, while others are general kits that can be used to create a wide variety of projects. Choose the type of kit that best reflects your interests.
The type of components included in your Arduino kit go hand-in-hand with the project variety. You should choose the kit that features the components you would like to learn about. For instance, if you want to learn how a light sensor works, look for an Arduino kit that includes that specific component. If you prefer a broad education, there are Arduino starter kits that include over 200 components, which will give you a more comprehensive understanding of electrical engineering and coding.
Arduino expansion kits are called shields. The shields are specialized boards that add extra hardware capabilities to your projects. For instance, if you like working with motors, you should get the Arduino shield that allows you to better control motors. There is also a shield that lets you connect to the internet, one that increases RAM, and another that has a built-in camera. Whatever your needs are, there is probably a shield that can help you. Typically, the shields just stack together — the way you would build a sandwich — making them extremely simple to use.
Arduino kits can be categorized into three general price brackets.
Inexpensive: In the $5 to $15 price range, you get a kit that is limited in versatility. It may not even include all the parts you need to complete a project, just specialized components such as a box of LEDs. Many of these kits are only of value if you already own other, more extensive, Arduino kits.
Mid-range: In the $15 to $45 range is where you strike gold. Almost anything you want is available in this range, if you don't mind using a clone kit. There are comprehensive kits that allow you to learn, build, and create whatever you imagine. Or, there are sets that are designed to build one specific item, such as a dancing penguin robot.
Higher end: Once you move above $50, you are looking at original brand Arduino kits. These kits cost more than clone kits because a portion of the price is funneled back into research and outreach programs. The most expensive Arduino kits cost up to $100.
If you've never dabbled in electrical engineering before, don't fret — you can still enjoy an Arduino kit. Following are a few general tips to help you progress smoothly from novice to master.
If our top recommendations weren’t for you, we have a few other kits we think are worth considering. UCTRONICS has a Smart Bluetooth Robot Car Kit that is based on the UNO R3 board and can connect to your smartphone via Bluetooth so you can control the vehicle you built with an Android app.
If you want to grow plants but don’t have a green thumb, there’s a solution for that. Elecrow's Arduino Plant Watering System includes a soil moisture sensor and pump so your plants will always be perfectly cared for — even when you forget to water them.
Q. I still don't get it. What is an Arduino kit?
A. Arduino is the brand name of the largest open-source hardware platform in the world. A starter kit comes with the hardware needed to build an actual physical gadget and the software required to make that gadget work. You can use the kits and the tutorials to learn how to make specific projects, but if you already understand the basics, you can create inexpensive prototypes of complex gadgets rather effortlessly.
Q. What can you do with an Arduino kit?
A. The beauty of an Arduino kit is it is only limited by your imagination and ingenuity. It comes with components that you can assemble to make anything from a motion-triggered nightlight to a robot that responds to hand signals. or maybe you have an idea for something that's never even existed before. If so, an Arduino kit is a great place to try out your ideas.
Q. If an Arduino uses off-the-shelf parts, can't I just build my own UNO?
A. Well, yes, you could. And, many individuals and companies do — that's part of the plan. But what makes Arduino special is the integration. A kit doesn't only include the hardware and software, but it also connects you to a vast community of like-minded individuals. If you purchase an original unit instead of a clone, you are helping to support the Arduino community. The choice is yours, however. There’s nothing wrong with purchasing a clone kit.