When it comes to choosing the right Arduino board for a project, not everyone has the expertise. One must do some research before buying, each project requires a different type of microcontroller.
So, how to choose the right Arduino board for you? Follow these 10 simple steps:
- Check the processor chip
- Evaluate the board’s size
- Know how many I/O Pins you Need
- Breadboard Capability
- Assess Operating Voltage
- Need to Use Arduino Shields?
- Internet Connectivity
- Bluetooth Connectivity
- Textile Compatibility
- Know how much it cost
Choosing the right Arduino board isn’t that simple. So, read on to know what are the steps that will lead you to choose the right board to enjoy your projects.
Interested in the best Arduino for beginners? I wrote a whole guide to the best Arduino for beginners (UNO Rev 3 for $23 or MKR WiFi 1010 for $32), check it out here: chipwired.com/best-arduino-for-beginners
Why Choose Arduino?
Before jumping onto the Arduino selection process, let’s take a look at why to choose Arduino as your microcontroller board since there are plenty of microcontroller options available in the market, so what makes Arduino the best choice?
Well, Arduino is the most commonly used microcontroller board because it’s easy to use and to program as well. In this article, you’ll see also 9 more reasons to make Arduino your first choice.
Arduino comes in two parts – hardware and software.
The hardware is the microcontroller board, whereas the software is the Arduino IDE, which you can download for free from their official website here.
The Arduino IDE is straightforward and easy to use; hence, most project enthusiasts and students consider using Arduino as a microcontroller board in their projects.
Moreover, most Arduino boards are easy on the pocket, so you don’t need to break the bank to do cool projects.
Which Types of Arduino Boards are There?
Arduino offers a wide variety of microcontroller boards. They come in different shapes, sizes, and features.
Here is a list of the microcontroller boards that Arduino offers:
The Arduino boards are constantly changing, improving, and being adapted to keep up with the technological demands of its users. These are part of the features that makes Arduino microcontrollers a great choice.
All of these boards provide a set of unique features that sets them apart from each other. So, it’s crucial to invest your money in an Arduino board that best suits your needs according to the type of project you are planning to build.
And to make this easy for you, I’ve divided the process of selecting a single Arduino board out of all the options out there, into 10 simple steps that you can use as a checklist whenever you’re looking to buy the right board for your projects.
10 Simple Steps to Select the Right Arduino Board for Your Projects
Here are some of the critical aspects that you must keep in mind when selecting an Arduino board for your project.
Use these steps as a checklist to make the right decision.
Step 1. Check the Processor Chip
Not all Arduino boards have the same processor chip fitted on them. Different processors offer different speeds and are designed to serve specific functions.
For instance, the very famous Arduino UNO (and some other boards) comes with an ATMEGA328 processor that can run with both 3.3V and 5V. It’s accompanied by either a 16MHz oscillator or an 8MHz oscillator, depending on the operating voltage. It has a flash memory of 32 kB, a 2 kB SRAM and 1 KB EEPROM.
Other Arduino boards offer ATMEGA168, ATMEGA32U4, ATMEGA2560, ATtiny85, ATSAMD21, ATSAM3X8E, and the Intel Curie processors.
You can select your Arduino board based on the processor they have embedded or based on its speed and memory specifications.
Step 2. Evaluate the Board’s Size
Yes, not all Arduino boards are the same size or same shape. Some boards are larger than others, and some are circular in shape instead of rectangular.
Evaluate and choose an Arduino according to your project. If you’re designing something that needs everything to be contained in a small space, then your best choice could be the Mini, Pro Mini, NANO, and MICRO boards because their length ranges from 30 to 48 mm.
Similarly, if you require a coin-shaped Arduino board, then you can check out the Gemma and Lillypad boards.
So, make sure to go through the size specifications of your Arduino board before buying it.
Step 3. Know how many I/O Pins you Need
The number of I/O pins varies with every Arduino board. Arduino MEGA offers the highest number of I/O pins, and it will be your best bet if you plan to use a lot of sensors and modules in your project.
So, before purchasing an Arduino board for your project, first calculate the number of pins that would be required by the external components you’ll be using, including LCDs, keypads, sensors, modules, etc. and then choose your board accordingly.
Step 4. Breadboard Capability
If you’re looking for an Arduino board that can be plugged into your breadboard, then you must go for a Nano or a Micro Board because, unlike other boards, they have male I/O pins, which one can plug into the breadboard.
The downside is that these boards don’t have a jack pin port, and they are not compatible with Arduino shields. Therefore, choose your board wisely.
Step 5. Assess Operating Voltage
Since Arduino boards have different operating voltages, you should select a board that supports your project’s operating voltage and compliments it.
The usual operating voltage for most boards is 5 V except for the Lillypad and Pro Mini versions. They have operating voltages of 2.7 V and 3.3 V, respectively.
Step 6. Need to Use Arduino Shields?
Are you planning to use Arduino shields in your project? Arduino shields allow you to attach an external circuitry right on top of your board.
Multiple shields can be stacked on top of each other.
Some commonly used shields are the WiFi, GPS, and Bluetooth shields, as well as the VoiceBox shield.
Step 7. Internet Connectivity
A crucial step in choosing the right Arduino board is to consider whether you need an internet connection to run your project or not.
If you know it beforehand, you’ll be able to choose a board that offers internet connectivity such as Ethernet, UNO WiFi, and Yun.
You don’t need to connect an external WiFi module with these boards, but in case you decide to use the internet after buying a UNO or a Nano board, then you’ll need to purchase a WiFi shield.
Step 8. Bluetooth Connectivity
Arduino 101 is the only board that offers in-built Bluetooth connectivity because it uses an Intel processor with a 32 MHz oscillator.
With other Arduino boards, you need to connect a Bluetooth shield to incorporate Bluetooth connectivity in your project.
Bluetooth connectivity is useful when you need to connect your mobile phone with the microcontroller. For example, when you build a remote-controlled robotic car.
Step 9. Textile Compatibility
Are you someone from the textile/clothing industry who needs to incorporate a microprocessor in their clothes?
If that’s the case, then there’s good news for you! Arduino Lillypad is specially designed for the textile industry.
Arduino Lillypad is a special microcontroller board with minimum thickness and no male or female I/O pins. Instead, it has pads for I/O connections. It’s designed in such a way that it can be easily sewn to clothes.
So, if your project is based on clothes, then Arduino Lillypad boards are your best bet.
Step 10. Know How Much It Cost
Apart from the features, a significant concern for buyers is the price of Arduino boards. If you’re a student or if you are working on a low-budget project, then obviously, purchasing an expensive Arduino board would be difficult for you.
For this reason, the Gemma and Pro Mini boards are priced under $20, and the Arduino UNO board is priced at $20.
On the other hand, if you have a high budget and you need more functionalities then, the highest price you can pay for an Arduino board is $60 (Yun).
Another useful board is the UNO WiFi board, which you can buy for $45.
Whatever your budget is, finding an Arduino board according to it is very easy.
All you need to do is do a little research and find the board that best fits your requirements and isn’t too heavy on your pocket.
Now that you know the steps of selecting the right Arduino board for your project, you can easily purchase the right board without worrying about anything else.
So, what are you waiting for? You are only 10 steps away from your perfect (Arduino board) match and start working on that project you’ve been thinking about lately.
Hey! What was your first Arduino Board? Or, are you thinking of buying your first one? Which Arduino board attracts you the most?
Let me know in the comments section below!