Which Arduino should a beginner buy?

Which Arduino should a beginner buy?

There are a number of different types of Arduino boards aimed for different users, and a common question that is asked is “Which Arduino Should I Buy?”. As two most available board in Bangladesh are UNO and Mega so I am going to write the pros and cons of them.

Arduino Uno

The Arduino Uno is one of the most popular Arduino boards
The Arduino Uno is one of the most popular Arduino boards

The Arduino Uno is the most common board most people buy when they are starting out. It is a good all purpose board that has enough features for a beginner to get started with. It uses the ATmega328 chip as the controller and can be powered directly from USB, battery or via an DC adapter. If using an adapter, a 9v or 12v wall-wart is recommended. Any more than this and you risk overheating the voltage regulator, and any less and you may get less that 5 volts from the 5v pin. The board operates at 5v throughout, ie digital pins output or read 5v, and analog pins read in the range 0-5v. Batteries can be useful but they can also drain pretty quickly with constant use.

Features:

The Uno features 14 digital input/output pins, and 6 of these can be used as pulse width modulation (PWM) outputs. It features 6 analog inputs as well as RX/TX (serial data) pins. The analog pins have a resolution of 10 bits, which means you get 1024 different values when you read them. This is quite a high resolution, and is about 10 times more accurate than MIDI. Each pin can draw a maximum of 40mA current.

Memory:

The board has 32 KB of flash memory, 2KB of SRAM and 1KB of EEPROM. Flash memory is where the program that you have written in stored, SRAM is the working memory or scratchpad and EEPROM is the storage for variables.

Pros

  • Simple to use with small footprint
  • Easy to get hold of
  • Inexpensive
  • Lots of example code and projects on the net
  • Most tutorials are written for this model
  • Lots of extras and sheilds built for this

Cons

  • Can run out of pins quickly if not using external ICs
  • Memory can be limited in large projects[not a problem for beginner level projects]

Get an Arduino UNO from our store.

Arduino Mega 2560

The Mega 2560 is a bigger version of the UNO
The Mega 2560 is a bigger version of the UNO

The Arduino Mega 2560 is the bigger brother of the Uno. It is pretty much the same as it’s little brother except its just more massive. The power runs just the same as the Uno and all the pins operate in the same way. The board is however powered by an ATmega2560 chip.

The main difference is the Mega has whopping 70 I/O pins. 16 of these are analog inputs, and the other 54 are digital I/O. 15 of the 54 digital pins are capable of PWM output. It also has 4 serial TX/RX ports built in. It has 256KB of flash memory, 8KB of SRAM and 4KB of EEPROM. You’re looking at being able to store a program 4 times the size of what’s capable of the Uno.

Again there are a couple of variations on this.
Pros

  • Lots of I/O options
  • Generous storage space for programs
  • Capable of running sizeable projects without the need for external ICs
  • Can run massive projects with thoughtful planning
  • Lots of example code and projects on the net

Cons

  • Most tutorial code will need to be modified slightly due to different pin numbers
  • Roughly twice the price of the Uno
  • Not as many shields available

Get an Arduino Mega2560 from our store.

Conclusion:

There are a lot of different types of Arduino boards out there, and it’s all up to your need as to which one you choose. If you have skipped the whole post and just want a quick low-down of what to go for, here it is…

  • Beginners to Arduino who won’t be doing large projects – Arduino Uno
  • Beginners who think they might end up wanting to do big projects, or more advanced users who know they will – Arduino Mega 2560

What are your thoughts?