Arduino is an open-source electronics platform you can use to make interactive projects as simple as turning an LED light on when someone approaches a sensor, or as complex as controlling an entire art installation. Artists, engineers, musicians, and builders of robots and wearable devices can all benefit from what Arduino has to offer.
Before you start imagining how to tweet from inanimate objects, it’s important to understand that Arduino is both a platform and a company. They make official boards, modules, and shields that you can program—but because these are open source, you can buy them (and variations) from other makers. Don’t know where to start? Let this shopping list be your guide.
You’ll pay significantly more by buying an Arduino starter kit from the company, but if you want to support the creators and experience simple instructions and smart design, you can’t go wrong. It includes an Arduino Uno R3 board, LEDs, sensors and other electronic components from resistors to capacitors. You can make 15 different projects that show off the basic capabilities of this technology, from a “light theremin” (interactive instrument) to a “knock lock” which opens a door when you tap out a secret code.
The Uno R3 board in this kit is made by Elegoo, but is still compatible with Arduino software. You can learn the fundamentals for various projects from the included tutorials, and you can always take advantage of the tutorials and community forum on the official Arduino website.
If you want to jump right into making stuff, and know you’ll be hitting the Arduino forum and online tutorials for ideas, go for this kit. You’ll get an Elegoo-built Mega 2560 board to build more complex projects (this board type is recommended by Arduino for 3D printers and robotics) and over 200 electronic components. All for less than the official Arduino starter kit.