Arduino is a good way to start with the development. It is easy to learn and it has very high capabilities. And it is important to choose right Arduino board for your project.
You can make anything from simple hobby project, robot, IOT device, drone, prosthetics or 3D printer from Arduino.
The best part is it is open source and it has a very large community.
Know the range of Arduino boards
My first project was a robotic arm which I have created using Arduino Due. It took me 3 days (and nights) to learn the Arduino, electronics, programming and to make the functional robotic arm from scratch.
I have used Arduino Mega as my second board for automation projects and also for the DIY 3d printer.
Then I realized that these boards are overkill for some of my smaller applications and I tried Arduino Uno and Arduino Nano which are good for small robotic arms, bi-pad robot, self-watering plant and collision detection Bluetooth controlled robots.
From that point, I realized that the form factor is crucial and top of the line boards are not always the best to fit.
Factors to consider while choosing Arduino board
Before choosing the right board you must consider these factors:
- Application: What you want to make and how you are planning your project? What features you want to include?
- Form Factor: The size of the board. How much volume you can allocate for your board in the product?
- Processing Power: How complex is your project is and how you want to process your data?
- I/O ports: How much components you are planning to add? How many sensors and motors and other accessories you want to add? Do they need analog or digital I/O ports and how much?
I have listed the Arduino boards for you. These are popular and easily available online.
If you have no experience with electronics and coding then Uno is the best board to start with. Uno is well documented and most used Arduino board. There are plenty of projects and guides to start learning. It can be powered by AA batteries.
- Microcontroller: ATmega328P
- Operating Voltage: 5V
- Input Voltage (recommended): 7-12V
- Input Voltage (limit): 6-20V
- Digital I/O Pins: 14 (of which 6 provide PWM output)
- PWM Digital I/O Pins: 6
- Analog Input Pins: 6
- DC Current per I/O Pin: 20 mA
- DC Current for 3.3V Pin: 50 mA
- Flash Memory: 32 KB (ATmega328P) of which 0.5 KB used by bootloader
- SRAM: 2 KB (ATmega328P)
- EEPROM: 1 KB (ATmega328P)
- Clock Speed: 16 MHz
- LED_BUILTIN: 13
- Length: 68.6 mm
- Width: 53.4 mm
- Weight: 25 g
Choose Arduino Uno board if you are just starting with electronics.
For the applications that need small form factor, the Nano is a good choice. It is very similar to Uno in terms of functionality. You can directly mount it on a breadboard. It can be powered by AA batteries.
- Microcontroller ATmega328
- Architecture AVR
- Operating Voltage 5 V
- Flash Memory 32 KB of which 2 KB used by bootloader
- SRAM 2 KB
- Clock Speed 16 MHz
- Analog IN Pins 8
- EEPROM 1 KB
- DC Current per I/O Pins 40 mA (I/O Pins)
- Input Voltage 7-12 V
- Digital I/O Pins 22 (6 of which are PWM)
- PWM Output 6
- Power Consumption 19 mA
- PCB Size 18 x 45 mm
- Weight 7 g
You can choose Arduino Nano board if the space is very limited and only a small board can be fitted in your product.
Arduino Mega 2560
The Mega is powered by ATmega2560 microcontroller. It is powerful enough to create 3D Printers and other robotic projects. It has better storage for the larger programs and also has a larger form factor.
- Microcontroller ATmega2560
- Operating Voltage 5V
- Input Voltage (recommended) 7-12V
- Input Voltage (limit) 6-20V
- Digital I/O Pins 54 (of which 15 provide PWM output)
- Analog Input Pins 16
- DC Current per I/O Pin 20 mA
- DC Current for 3.3V Pin 50 mA
- Flash Memory 256 KB of which 8 KB used by bootloader
- SRAM 8 KB
- EEPROM 4 KB
- Clock Speed 16 MHz
- LED_BUILTIN 13
- Length 101.52 mm
- Width 53.3 mm
- Weight 37g
Choose Arduino Mega board if your applications require powerful board like 3D-printing.
Arduino MKR series
For the IoT applications, the MKR series is good. It provides inbuilt WiFi, GSM, WAN, or Ethernet based on the model.
Visit arduino.cc know more about Arduino.
As a beginner, you should go for the Arduino Uno. You can easily find the guides and projects with good documentation.
For good capabilities in smaller form factor, I would advise Arduino Nano. It has most of the benefits of Uno and is breadboard mountable.
If you want the top of the line capabilities for application such as 3D Printer, Arduino Mega would be the best choice.
So which is your first Arduino board?