How did I get into Arduino? That is a good question, and one whose answer will entail the discovery of Stack Exchange, Super User, just before Xmas 2014. I think I was just looking for an answer to a Wi-Fi issue that I was having with a Mac. That then led on to me exploring the SE network, and finding SE Raspberry Pi, with with I was already familiar, having heard about it in the British press (i.e. BBC News). Then there was a question asking something along the lines of “What should I get – an Arduino or a Pi?” I had never heard of Arduino and so did a bit of googling, at bit of researching, and then a lot more googling and researching, and realised that this was something that I wanted to get into.
The links I looked at were:
- Arduino vs Raspberry Pi: Which Is The Mini Computer For You?
- Arduino Vs. Raspberry Pi: Which Is The Right DIY Platform For You?
- Arduino Uno vs BeagleBone vs Raspberry Pi – which, somewhat confusingly, throws the BeagleBone into the mix.
- Arduino vs Raspberry Pi Comparison
You may also find these links useful:
- Raspberry Pi or Arduino? One Simple Rule to Choose the Right Board
- Arduino vs Raspberry Pi comparison
- Arduino vs. Raspberry Pi: Mortal enemies, or best friends?
Ironically, I had, at around the same time, just pre-ordered a Raspberry Pi 2, but by the time that it had arrived, I was actually more interested in the Arduino and what it could do.
When picking the correct Arduino, you may find this link useful
I also reckoned that owning an Arduino without having any shields would be a bit like having an RC car for Christmas but not having any batteries, so the next day I visited a number of sites which recommended the best (i.e. most useful) shields to purchase:
- The Top 4 Arduino Shields To Superpower Your Projects
- Five Best Arduino Shields
- Flexible add-ons for Arduino
Here is a quick photo shoot of the Arduinos and shields that I have to date:
There was a recent death in the family, unfortunately, so I am down by one. Hopefully some remedial action may rectify the situation, but I am not hopeful.
As of the date of writing, a new shield is on its way, a USB Host shield.
This is really a chronological order of purchases:
11 February 2015
- Arduino Uno -> UNO R3 Development Board Microcontroller MEGA328P ATMEGACH340G Compat fo Arduino
This was the first, the cheapest Chinese clone that I could find, just as a taster, as I saw not point in buying an expensive one if I wasn’t going to end up finding them useful. It had a built in CH340G USB interface, which unfortunately, meant that it would not work with a Mac, see USB-TTL interface devices on OS X
12 February 2015
- Ethernet Shield Development Board W5100 For Arduino UNO Mega 2560 1280 328 UN
- 1Pc New Data Logger Module Logging Recorder Shield V1.0 for Arduino UNO SD Card
- Sensor Shield V5 V5.0 For Arduino APC220 Bluetooth Analog Module Servo Motor New
- DC 5V 4-Mechanical Channel Relays Shield Module For Arduino UNO R3 XBEE New
- Hot Sales Prototyping Prototype Arduino Proto Shield With Mini Breadboard AU
- Motor Drive Expansion Shield Module L293D For Arduino Duemilanove Mega UNO OP
- UNO R3 2.4″ TFT LCD Shield Touch Panel Module TF Reader Micro SD For Arduino
As previously stated I had looked at a couple of “best shields” sites and the above shields were listed as being the most practical.
13 February 2015
- Nokia 5110 LCD I2C JoyStick Keypad Shield PS2 Gamepads for Arduino nRF24L01
- 1x 1602 LCD Board Keypad Shield Blue Backlight Duemilanove Robot for Arduino
Likewise, the joystick and the two line LCD display shields were equally recommended.
9 March 2015
- Arduino Mega -> ATmega2560-16AU ATMEGA16U2 Board + USB Cable for Arduino MEGA2560 R3
The next Arduino purchase was the Mega. I reckoned at the time, and rightly so, that the extra I/O pins, as well as the additional memory, would come in useful, for those more advanced projects.
12 March 2015
- Arduino Nano -> GOOD Mini USB Nano V3.0 ATmega328P 5V 16M Micro-controller Board For Arduino
I purchased this, after attending a Arduino course in Fortune Town, BKK, where I was shown that the Nano is designed to fit on a breadboard, thus making project much more compact, as the Arduino would now sit on the same breadboard as the associated electronics, rather than having some ungainly wires attaching an Uno to a breadboard.
- Arduino Mini -> Mini ATMEAG328 3.3V 8Mhz Replace ATmega128 For Arduino Pro Mini Compatible
I purchased this 3.3V Arduino for a homemade Pi “Hoody”, see Raspberry Pi, Motorola Atrix Lapdock and Arduino Hoody. The 3.3V Arduino made it unnecessary to employ level shifters
- Nano Shield -> Nano V3.0 Prototype Shield I/O Extension Board Expansion Module for Arduino
.This shield basically transforms an Arduino Nano into an Arduino Uno, and able to accept shields. Quite pointless really, as it completely negates the miniaturization of the Nano, and one could just as well use an Uno in its place. However, I purchased it regardless, as a possibly useful addition to the armoury, for one of those, “you never know” days.Indeed, it did come in useful, when I required another Uno, as the others were all previously employed, and I needs to perform a simple test on a Nokia 5110 display.
01 May 2015
- Arduino Uno with ATmega USB -> High Quality 1Pc ATmega328P UNO R3 Board with USB Cable for Arduino
This baby comes with an ATmega 4u2 implementing the USB interface, as well as the standard ATmega 328, just like a real (non-FTDI) Arduino and so is compatible with the Mac.
16 July 2015
- Arduino Micro -> New Pro Micro ATmega32U4 3.3V 8MHz Replace ATmega328 Arduino Pro Mini M94
This was purchased as a miniaturized Leonardo, to be used as a USB device, such as a pseudo-mouse. Just code it up to emulate a mouse with random mouse movements and button clicks, and then connect to an unsuspecting person’s PC and watch them go nuts. Here is a <link> to where that idea came from. It was this device this unfortunately suffered and ignominious end, see The case of the broken Pro Micro.
- Arduino Nano -> A Useful Device for Arduino Nano V3.0 with ATMEGA328P Module Mini Module Board D
As I now have a number of breadboard based projects, I required a couple more Nanos, to save having to continually unplug and plug the single Nano that I had between the breadboards
- Arduino Leonardo -> Leonardo R3 ATmega32U4 Compatible to Arduino with Free USB cable
Same as for the Arduino Micro above, the Leonardo can be used to emulate a USB device, albeit a rather larger and more ungainly version. In addition, it is of a size which can accept the Joystick shield, and so the joystick and buttons can be used as a USB Human Interface Device (HID), for a PC. Again the <link> is where my idea for this came from.
24 July 2015
- ZigBee Shield -> ZigBee XBee Bluetooth Bee V03 Shield Module Wireless Control For Arduino
To enable a compact XBee/Uno project, without requiring a breadboard.While I, admittedly, already have a shield that would accept an XBee, it also have relays upon it, making it somewhat ungainly/unwieldy.
20 August 2015
- Mega Servo shield -> MEGA Sensor Shield V2.0 Dedicated Sensor Expansion Board for Arduino
As a hexapod requires over 18 servos, and the Uno’s servo shield only has 14 servo connections, the Mega servo shield was required.
22 Aug 2015
This was required to connect either a USB PS2 controller or XBOX controller, for use as a HID for an Arduino based robot. See USB Shield.
20 December 2015
- Nano XBee shield -> 1pcs Nano IO Shield with XBee and nRF24L01 wireless interface for Arduino NEW
To enable a Nano to use an XBee in a compact manner.
20 December 2015
- Yun Shield -> Latest Iduino Yun Shield Linux WiFi Ethernet USB Compatible for Arduino Board
This was a way cheaper option to a full on Arduino Yun ($15 vs $50), see Arduino Yún shield.
21 December 2015
- XBee Shield -> ICSJ010A Wireless SD Shield for Arduino Xbee Module SD Card Socket brand new
This was a prototyping XBee shield, that would, in theory allow for a translation from the Breadboard to the shield, as described in the OReilly book, Distributed Network Data, see XBee and ZigBee reading resources.
30 December 2015
- Ethernet Arduino -> Arduino Ethernet Development Board A000068 *Brand New*
I purchased this as a more compact alternative to the Arduino Uno and Ethernet shield, that I found myself using the most. I was using this combination as both web server (see Arduino Ethernet Shield Web Server Tutorial) and temperature sensor projects. See also Arduino Ethernet.
03 October 2016
- Pro Mini 5V -> Redesign Pro Mini atmega328 5V 16M Replace ATmega128 Arduino Compatible Nano
Needed a Nano for a DIY ArduinoRC project, see RC Transmitters – DIY – arduinorc, but I bought a Pro Mini instead. Maybe because it was cheaper, but the pinout was rather different, so while I could, and still will build the board using a Pro Mini, I also got a Nano (see below) so as to stick with the original design.
23 October 2016
For the DIY ArduinoRC project, see above.
27 October 2016
7 November 2016
For 3D Printer. See 3D Printer control boards.
24 November 2016
For 3D printer.
My favourite shields
- Joystick shield – I like this shield for its functionality and expandability. It can be used as a USB HID for a PC when combined with a suitable Arduino board, such as the Leonardo, or as a standalone mini game handheld console. The ability for it to support a 5110 display is useful for games or feedback, without requiring the need for the Serial monitor, and as it can support Bluetooth modules, such as the nRF24L01+, it can be employed as a simple R/C controller.
- Ethernet shield – This is the board that I seem to use the most, as it provides internet capability, allowing the Arduino to acts as a Web Server, or feedback sensor data efficiently.
- Mega servo controller shield – The sheer number of servo connectors is just breathtaking and essential for the larger, and more complex, robots.
My least favourite shields
- Datalogger shield with SD card – the Ethernet shield comes with a micro SD card slot
- XBee/BT Shields – using an XBee on a breadboard offers more greater versatility, although a XBee protoshield is a good compromise between the two..
- Protoshield – I guess that I just have not had any need, as yet, to move from breadboard to protoshield.
Similarly, the Relay and Motor driver shields, I have never used – however, that it not to say that they are not useful.