Arduino Projects and Robotics Tutorial

Best Arduino Board |Which Arduino to Buy? Read this before Starting Next Project!

which arduino to buy?

Different Types of Arduino and their Uses

Arduino boards are the top-notch microcontroller boards that serve both amateurs and professionals alike. However, the original Arduino boards are costly and using them for projects, trials, or flashing them several thousands of times while the building is a costly affair.

Hence, the clones which offer similar functionality at far less price than the original boards are economical and are in the available price range for students also. Even kids can undertake interesting experiments at a lower cost. But sometimes, going for genuine Arduino boards is worth the price. One thing that still keeps the clones from reaching the level of the original board is their reliability.

Arduino Boards and DIY Projects

You might have come across this awesome list of projects that you can do with Arduino – Best Arduino Projects. If you are really interested in this, do check it out! Here you will find an awesome lot of Arduino projects that you can build from your house.

Even if you are an absolute beginner and new to Arduino and robotics, these tutorials got you covered. Some of the Best Arduino Projects 2020 List includes projects employing

New to Robotics?

We have a beginners guide on “Getting Started with Robotics” which will give you a kick start in this field. Check out our free video tutorial below for a brief introduction.

If you are stuck somewhere and you need guidance to go forward, you can use the comment box below the post or you can use our community to get in touch with the experts.

Choosing the Best Arduino Board

Microcontrollers have a wide variety of functions, and choosing the right board depends purely on your need. Also, the expansion plans need to be included if you have any. When you buy the board with a future perspective, you will save a lot when you need to upgrade by simply adding some pins rather than the whole board.

As you have known already, the Arduino board is the heart of every project. Though it is a small part, it plays a significant role in the functioning of the units. They contain programs that allow them to perform complex functions. Check out the boards with various uses to find the best one for your project.

List of Best Arduino Board

Arduino Uno REV3

Buy an Arduino UNO Rev3. Rev3 stands for revision three. It’s that easy. And here’s why I can say that with confidence. First off the Arduino is by far the most popular Arduino board out there. So if you’re just getting started, and you wanna look at some example code that’s out there, you’re gonna find tons of it available for the Arduino UNO.

Reason number two. Not only there a ton of code available for the Arduino UNO, but most of the add-ons that you’ll find for Arduino called shields, are built to work with the Arduino UNO. This is one of the best Arduino Board for your electronic Project.

Reason number three. For 99% of your needs, the Arduino UNO is going to do exactly what you need. The UNO has 20 separate input-output channels called pins, and all of those channels could be used to read digital on-off type inputs. Six of those inputs can be used to read analog inputs, like if you were turning a knob. So for the lion’s share of projects, that is going to be plenty of input-output options.

So that’s my recommendation. I would get an Arduino UNO Rev3, and I really think you’ll be happy that you did. But come on, we need some exceptions to a rule, right? Okay, well let me cover two cases where you might want a different Arduino board.

Technical Specifications

MicrocontrollerATmega328P
Operating Voltage5V
Input Voltage (recommended)7-12V
Input Voltage (limit)6-20V
Digital I/O Pins14 (of which 6 provide PWM output)
PWM Digital I/O Pins6
Analog Input Pins6
DC Current per I/O Pin20 mA
DC Current for 3.3V Pin50 mA
Flash Memory32 KB (ATmega328P) of which 0.5 KB used by bootloader
SRAM2 KB (ATmega328P)
EEPROM1 KB (ATmega328P)
Clock Speed16 MHz
LED_BUILTIN13
Length68.6 mm
Width53.4 mm
Weight25 g


Arduino Nano V3

The Nano V3 belongs to the line of Simple Arduino Boards and comes with a nano cable Mini USB to USB. It has a clock speed of 16MHz, an EEPROM of 1KB, and an SRAM of 2 KB. The bootloader occupies its 2 KB flash memory from its 32 KB. The Arduino Nano is a tiny and complete Arduino board that can be connected to the breadboard, powered by an ATmega328P. It can do almost everything an Arduino Uno can do but all the circuitries are compact and packed closer reducing the form factor. It doesn’t have a DC power jack, and it works with a Mini USB cable instead of a standard one. This is one of the best Arduino Board for your Project where space is an issue.

The 14 digital I/O pins and the 8 analog input pins with a DC requirement of 40 mA per I/O pin are present on the board. The microcontroller chip starts working once you install the CH340 driver by downloading it from the internet.

Arduino Nano V3

Technical Specifications

MicrocontrollerATmega328
ArchitectureAVR
Operating Voltage5 V
Flash Memory32 KB of which 2 KB used by bootloader
SRAM2 KB
Clock Speed16 MHz
Analog IN Pins8
EEPROM1 KB
DC Current per I/O Pins40 mA (I/O Pins)
Input Voltage7-12 V
Digital I/O Pins22 (6 of which are PWM)
PWM Output6
Power Consumption19 mA
PCB Size18 x 45 mm
Weight7 g
Product CodeA000005


Pro Mini Atmega 328p

This chip contains 8 analog pins similar to the other Simple Arduino Clone Boards. It is of high quality and is sized about 34*18mm. As it supports auto-reset, its design is considered as user friendly. The package comes with 3 x gilded pin. Once you power it up and add the drivers, it starts working.

Pro Mini Atmega 328p

Technical Specifications

MicrocontrollerATmega328 *
Board Power Supply3.35 -12 V (3.3V model) or 5 – 12 V (5V model)
Circuit Operating Voltage3.3V or 5V (depending on model)
Digital I/O Pins14
PWM Pins6
UART1
SPI1
I2C1
Analog Input Pins6
External Interrupts2
DC Current per I/O Pin40 mA
Flash Memory32KB of which 2 KB used by bootloader *
SRAM2 KB *
EEPROM1 KB *
Clock Speed8 MHz (3.3V versions) or 16 MHz (5V versions)

(*) Older boards were equipped with ATmega 168 with this specs: 
– Flash memory: 16 KB
– SRAM: 1 KB 
– EEPROM: 512 bytes


Arduino Mega 2560 R3

Let’s say that you’ve already got this predefined project that you have in mind, and you already know that you need tons of inputs or tons of outputs to make it work. If that’s the case, you may wanna check out the Arduino MEGA 2560 Rev3.

This board has 54 digital input/output pins, among which 15 are used as PWM output pins. There are 16 analog input pins, a reset button, a power jack, a 16 Mhz crystal oscillator, an ICSP header, and 4 hardware serial ports. Though it is one of the Simple Arduino Clone Boards, it has all the necessary parts to support the microcontroller. It can connect to the computer using a USB cable.

Technical Specifications

MicrocontrollerATmega2560
Operating Voltage5V
Input Voltage (recommended)7-12V
Input Voltage (limit)6-20V
Digital I/O Pins54 (of which 15 provide PWM output)
Analog Input Pins16
DC Current per I/O Pin20 mA
DC Current for 3.3V Pin50 mA
Flash Memory256 KB of which 8 KB used by bootloader
SRAM8 KB
EEPROM4 KB
Clock Speed16 MHz
LED_BUILTIN13
Length101.52 mm
Width53.3 mm
Weight37 g

Lilypad Arduino

This tiny round Arduino board is specially designed to be used as wearable. That means you can use it for projects like gesture controlled robots, biomatrics collector, and projects like that. This board comes with a clear instruction sheet on connecting the pins to Arduino boards.

Programming is similar to other arduinoboards. There is no complication in that. As you can see the GPI pins are arranged in a circular manner. That means this board is not breadboard friendly. Select the right COM port and opt for Lilypad or Genuino/Uno, which usually works well with most of the Simple Arduino Clone Boards. The programmed chip will then be ready for functioning.

Technical Specifications

MicrocontrollerATmega168 or ATmega328V
Operating Voltage2.7-5.5 V
Input Voltage2.7-5.5 V
Digital I/O Pins14
PWM Channels6
Analog Input Channels6
DC Current per I/O Pin40 mA
Flash Memory16 KB (of which 2 KB used by bootloader)
SRAM1 KB
EEPROM512 bytes
Clock Speed8 MHz

Warning: Don’t power the LilyPad Arduino with more than 5.5 volts, or plug the power in backwards, you’ll kill it.



Arduino Nano IoT Family

There is afamily of Arduino Nano IoT boards that are similar in form factor but varying communication protocols and sensor arrays which can be used for various IoT related applications and projects. The best thing about this board is it has the same formfactor as that of classic Arduino Nano and even the same pinout configuration with added advantages. And yes this boards are breadboard friendly.

Arduino Nano Every, Nano 33 Iot, Nano 33 BLE, Nano 33 BLE Sense; Source – Arduino

While the Classic Arduino Nano was powered by the 8 bit ATmega328P, the new boards are powered by a much more powerful ATmega4809, with a Microchip Arm Cortex-M0+ processor for USB to serial communications also on board which is awesome.

Check out the Arduino Rocket Launcher where we used an Arduino Nano 33 IoT to control direction and launch Rockets.

Arduino Nano 33 BLE Sense

This is the smallest available AI-enabled board in the series of Original Arduino Boards with 45x18mm. Its tiny form and the 9 axis inertial sensor make Nano 33 BLE Sense an ideal board for wearable devices. It can pair using Bluetooth via NFC. The microphone captures and analyzes sound in real-time.

Sensors such as humidity and temperature sensor, barometric sensor, pressure sensor, orientation sensor, color, brightness, proximity, and gesture sensors are available on this chip.

Technical Specifications

MicrocontrollernRF52840 (datasheet)
Operating Voltage3.3V
Input Voltage (limit)21V
DC Current per I/O Pin15 mA
Clock Speed64MHz
CPU Flash Memory1MB (nRF52840)
SRAM256KB (nRF52840)
EEPROMnone
Digital Input / Output Pins14
PWM Pinsall digital pins
UART1
SPI1
I2C1
Analog Input Pins8 (ADC 12 bit 200 ksamples)
Analog Output PinsOnly through PWM (no DAC)
External Interruptsall digital pins
LED_BUILTIN13
USBNative in the nRF52840 Processor
IMULSM9DS1 (datasheet)
MicrophoneMP34DT05 (datasheet)
Gesture, light, proximityAPDS9960 (datasheet)
Barometric pressureLPS22HB (datasheet)
Temperature, humidityHTS221 (datasheet)
Length45 mm
Width18 mm
Weight5 gr (with headers)

Arduino MKR Series

There is a family of Arduino Boards – Arduino MKR Family, that are specifically designed for IoT projects, with different types of Wireless communication, complete libraries, and community support.

However, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend these wireless boards if you’re just getting started with Arduino. There is this very small, yet very real level of complexity that makes these just ever slightly less user-friendly, than your stock Arduino UNO. Check out these boards below. These are some of the best Arduino boards for your IoT Project.

Arduino MKR NB 1500 – Narrow Band IoT NB classes and LTE CAT M1 networks
Arduino MKR WiFi 1010 – with WiFi Connectivity
Arduino MKR GSM 1400 – GSM Connectivity
Arduino MKR WAN 1300 – LORA Connectivity
Arduino MKR1000 – WiFi Connectivity
Arduino MKR Vidor 4000 – On Board FPGA

Pinout of all thse boards are almost similar. What varies is the wireless module and interface. That means the same PCBs can be used for various projects with varying wireless communication methods.

Arduino MKR WAN 1300

Of all these MKR boards, the one I use for most of the projects is 1300. This powerful board offers IoT functionality and requires minimum networking experience to work with. It is a cost-effective and practical device for low-power projects. Though it is small in size, it offers a secure connection using the ECC508 crypto chip of the MKR family.

As this unit combines the power of two Original Arduino Boards, namely MKR Zero and LoRa, it inherited the functionality and connectivity of both these chips, respectively.

Technical Specifications

MicrocontrollerSAMD21 Cortex-M0+ 32bit low power ARM MCU
Board Power Supply (USB/VIN)5V
Supported Batteries(*)2x AA or AAA
Circuit Operating Voltage3.3V
Digital I/O Pins8
PWM Pins12 (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, A3 – or 18 -, A4 -or 19)
UART1
SPI1
I2C1
Analog Input Pins7 (ADC 8/10/12 bit)
Analog Output Pins1 (DAC 10 bit)
External Interrupts10 (0, 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 16 / A1, 17 / A2)
DC Current per I/O Pin7 mA
Flash Memory256 KB
SRAM32 KB
EEPROMno
Clock Speed32.768 kHz (RTC), 48 MHz
LED_BUILTIN6
Full-Speed USB Device and embedded Host
Antenna power2dB
Carrier frequency433/868/915 MHz
Working regionEU/US
Length67.64 mm
Width25 mm
Weight32 gr.

Arduino MKR GSM 1400

The cellular network connectivity enables the chip to use GSM or 3G networks. It allows the unit to connect with a remote sensor network or a text message sending device when a specific action is triggered. Among the Original Arduino Boards, MKR GSM 1400is the quick solution implementor due to its wide connectivity.

This unit consumes low power as it is equipped with Arm® Cortex®-M0 32-bit SAMD21 processor. The secure cellular connection is possible using the u-blox module, SARA-U201 chip, and the Microchip® ECC508 crypto chip. It is compatible with many cloud services.

Get More Information about Arduino MKR GSM 1400

Technical Specifications

MicrocontrollerSAMD21 Cortex®-M0+ 32bit low power ARM MCU (datasheet)
Radio moduleu-blox SARA-U201 (datasheet)
Secure ElementATECC508 (datasheet)
Board Power Supply (USB/VIN)5V
Supported BatteryLi-Po Single Cell, 3.7V, 2500mAh Minimum
Circuit Operating Voltage3.3V
Digital I/O Pins8
PWM Pins13 (0 .. 8, 10, 12, 18 / A3, 19 / A4)
UART1
SPI1
I2C1
Analog Input Pins7 (ADC 8/10/12 bit)
Analog Output Pins1 (DAC 10 bit)
External Interrupts10 (0, 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 16 / A1, 17 / A2)
DC Current per I/O Pin7 mA
Flash Memory256 KB (internal)
SRAM32 KB
EEPROMno
Clock Speed32.768 kHz (RTC), 48 MHz
LED_BUILTIN6
Full-Speed USB Device and embedded Host
Antenna gain2dB (bundled antenna at the Arduino Store)
Carrier frequencyGSM 850 MHz, E-GSM 1900 MHz, DCS 1800 MHz, PCS 1900 MHz
Working regionGlobal
SIM CardMicroSIM (not included with the board)
Length67.64 mm
Width25 mm
Weight32 gr.

Top 3 Useful Arduino Compatible Boards

Digispark

The mini development board is economical and smaller in size than the Arduino but is a little less powerful. It supports the IDE 1.0+ Osx, Windows, Linux operating systems. As it works with a power source of 5 V and 7-35 V, it can connect through USB or an external adaptor or battery.

It is a light weight microcontroller development board. It comes with 6 GPIO pins, I2C and SPI serial communication and a USB interface. It also has 3 PWM pins which can be used to control l293d motor drivers or servo motors. We can use Arduino IDE to program Digispark but the way we upload the program is a little bit different than usual.

One thing that makes this board special is the ability to act as HID. HID stands for Human Interface Devices. Human Interface Devices are Devices that take input from us and pass it on to the device connected to it. HID devices include keyboard, joystick, mouse, touchpad, graphic tablet, etc. Check out the below tutorial where we made our hands dirty with Digispark Hacking Tool.

Technical Specifications

Support for the Arduino IDE 1.0+ (OSX/Win/Linux)
Power via USB or External Source – 5v or 7-35v (automatic selection)
On-board 500ma 5V Regulator
Built-in USB (and serial debugging)
6 I/O Pins (2 are used for USB only if your program actively communicates over USB,
otherwise you can use all 6 even if you are programming via USB)
8k Flash Memory (about 6k after bootloader)
I2C and SPI (vis USI)
PWM on 3 pins (more possible with Software PWM)
ADC on 4 pins
Power LED and Test/Status LED (on Pin0)


Wemos D1 Mini V2.2.0

Wemos D1 Mini is a low-cost and effective value WIFI microcontroller. It’s based around the ESP8266, has one analogue port and 11 digital ports. It’s programmed via micro-USB (or remote flash via wifi). This chip is useful in devices such as cell phones, mobiles, and electronic devices. Arduino Compatible boards with Wireless connectivity are useful for Wi-Fi-based internet development functionality utilizing devices. It weighs only 400 grams and hence suitable for use in handheld devices.

This board is compatible with MicroPython, Arduino, nodemcu. You can easily use this platform to build your own IoT eco system and connected networks without having a fuzz about hardware design and complcated coding. This board will take you skills to another level and will jumpstart your Internet of Things Development by letting you focus on the software part.

Technical Specifications

Operating Voltage3.3 V
Digital I/O Pins11
Analog Input Pins1 (3.2 V Max)
Clock Speed80/160 MHz
Flash16 MB
Size34.2 × 25.6 mm
Weight3 g

Pin Configuration

PinFunctionESP-8266 Pin
RXRXDRXD
A0Analog input, max 3.2 VA0
D0IOGPIO16
D1IO, SCLGPIO5
D2IO, SDAGPIO4
D3IO, 10k Pull-upGPIO0
D4IO, 10k Pull-up, BUILTIN_LEDGPIO2
D5IO, SCKGPIO14
D6IO, MISOGPIO12
D7IO, MOSIGPIO13
D8IO, 10k Pull-down, SSGPIO15
GGroundGND
5V5 V
3V33.3 V3.3 V
RSTResetRST

Nodemcu Esp8266

The generic chip is suitable for Arduino Compatible boards with Wireless connectivity and has a provision for connecting to the PCB antenna. It is very lightweight at 60 grams.

If you remember our previous post, we have made a Home Automation System using NodeMCU which was well received by our readers. You can simply make this projects using a NodeMCU, some relays, and a breadboard. Check out the below post.

Technical Specifications

Pin CategoryNameDescription
PowerMicro-USB, 3.3V, GND, VinMicro-USB: NodeMCU can be powered through the USB port 3.3V: Regulated 3.3V can be supplied to this pin to power the board GND: Ground pins Vin: External Power Supply
Control PinsEN, RSTThe pin and the button resets the microcontroller
Analog PinA0Used to measure analog voltage in the range of 0-3.3V
GPIO PinsGPIO1 to GPIO16NodeMCU has 16 general purpose input-output pins on its board
SPI PinsSD1, CMD, SD0, CLKNodeMCU has four pins available for SPI communication.
UART PinsTXD0, RXD0, TXD2, RXD2NodeMCU has two UART interfaces, UART0 (RXD0 & TXD0) and UART1 (RXD1 & TXD1). UART1 is used to upload the firmware/program.
I2C Pins NodeMCU has I2C functionality support but due to the internal functionality of these pins, you have to find which pin is I2C.

Arduino Clones

What Are Arduino Compatible Boards?

Now one confusing thing about buying an Arduino UNO, is that you’ll find that there’s many companies sell Arduino UNO clones. So if you didn’t know, the company that came up with Arduino made their hardware design open source for people to use.

Arduino Clones

It’s called open source hardware. Kind of like open source software, except they are sharing the electrical design files instead of the actual code. So what this means is that there are tons of other companies that have taken the exact same design of the Arduino UNO and simply cloned it. Then they add a fancy name often with the suffix duino, and they say something like ‘hey it’s Arduino compatible’. And in fact, in most cases, these clones are fully Arduino compatible.

Smaller Arduino Like / Arduino Clone Boards

Well, you could check out a company called TinyCircuits, they make super small Arduino boards. But here’s the good news, whatever Arduino boards you buy as long as it says compatible with Arduino, chances are that you’re gonna be just fine using it. That’s kind of what’s great about Arduino. The code you write on one board can be transferred to tons of different boards, usually with no changes or very minor changes to the code. So if you already have an Arduino board, and you’re wondering if you got the right one you’re probably fine.

Arduino Like / Clone Board for IOT Projects

Now let’s say you’ve got a project in mind that connects wirelessly to the Internet. If that’s the case, I would recommend getting a board that uses the ESP8266. Two great options would be the Adafruit Feather HUZZAH with ESP8266, or the SparkFun ESP8266 Thing Development Board. These boards are not technically Arduino, but they can be programmed with Arduino code and in the Arduino IDE.

They come with good code libraries for making connecting to the Internet relatively simple, and if you buy from an established seller, they’ll have a good working example for you to start with. Interestingly enough, these WiFi-enabled boards are less expensive than an Arduino UNO.

Which Arduino to Buy?

So they’ve got these reputable companies that do this, they sell clones of Arduino UNO. Now the boards have different logos on them, and sometimes they’ll have slightly different features, but for all intents and purposes, they work great with the Arduino software and other Arduino shields. So should you buy an Arduino from the Arduino company, or should you buy a clone? Does it matter?

Well the Arduino you buy from Arduino.cc usually cost a little bit more, and the selling point of the clones is that they kind of cost less. Now I’m not a sentimental guy by any stretch, but for your first Arduino board I’d actually recommend buying your board from Arduino.cc, or a certified distributor of Arduino. I say this because I think the Arduino company does good stuff, like support the Arduino IDE. So, in my opinion, it’s supporting a good cause. But hey, it’s your call.

Arduino Accessories

So let’s switch gears now, and talk about the must-have accessories if you’re getting into Arduino. Now before we jump into this, I don’t recommend going out and buying everything you think you need to set up an electronics shop, if you’re just getting started into Arduino and electronics. It makes more sense to kind of gradually getting stuff built up. But if all you bought was an Arduino board and no sensors or output devices to play with, it can be not quite as exciting.

USB Cable for Arduino

Okay, so the first thing you’re gonna need is a USB cable to connect your Arduino to your computer. Assuming you take my advice and you get an Arduino UNO, you’ll need an AB-type USB cable. This is the kind of cable that you use to hook a printer up to your computer. And since it’s needed I guess it’s not really an accessory, but hey it made the list. Now if you bought a different style of Arduino board, you may wanna make sure you have a micro USB cable hanging around, as that’s a common type of connector for other boards.

Arduino Kit

The next must-have accessory is an Arduino kit. And the reason I say this is because the prices have gotten so affordable on these kits, that it really just doesn’t hurt to have one laying around. Oftentimes the buying of the individual components cost more anyway, so it can save you some time and a little bit of cash.

Arduino Kit

Now there’s a ton of different kits out there. One way to pick a kit is to ask yourself, what kind of project do you have in mind? Maybe you can find a kit that already has some of the items that you need in the project anyway. I know trying to find specific components that you know will work with Arduino, can sometimes be just a little bit intimidating. Especially if you’re just getting started. But if you buy those pieces as part of an Arduino kit, you can be pretty sure they’re gonna work just fine with Arduino.

Note: Now you’ll wanna make sure the kit comes with a solderless breadboard. You use a solderless breadboard to make temporary electrical connections with different components. You’ll also wanna make sure that it comes with jumper wires, which are wires for making these temporary electrical connections. You’ll wanna ensure it comes with a handful of resistors, and some LEDs. And these are mostly for building simple circuits to kind of play around with. Chances are all those things I just mentioned are gonna be part of a good Arduino kit.

Arduino Shields

Now an alternative to buying a kit with a bunch of different components is to buy an Arduino shield that has a bunch of components built into it. This is probably the best option for people who are maybe already into electronics, kind of familiar with simple circuits, and would rather focus on learning how to program the Arduino.

Arduino Shield

There are companies that make similar kind of shields. You can check out DrDuino, they make a really cool shield also.

Getting Started with Arduino

Well, I hope you’re excited to get started with Arduino. It can really be a ton of fun, and extremely satisfying to have programmed and built something yourself. If you wanna jumpstart your Arduino programming skills, then you should check out the YouTube channel Here. We offer many free step-by-step training courses to get you started programming Arduino.

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