When you are just getting started out with Arduino, it can be overwhelming choosing which components you want to tinker with. You may not yet have an idea of the projects you want to make, and if you just choose random components they may not work well together.
A great idea for beginners is to get a starter kit. They come with a large assortment of different components, meaning that might end up with sensors you never even knew existed, which can fuel inspiration. They usually come with some kind of guide book with step by step instructions on how to use the different components and create little projects.
Here we explore the best Arduino starter kits for different kinds of users.
Elegoo Uno Starter Kit
The Elegoo brand are well known for making some great 3D printers, and their Project Super Starter Kit is another great addition to their brand. They do multiple different kits with less or more components, but this particular pack has the nicest selection without throwing too much at you.
In addition to the basics like LEDs and resistors, there are a bunch of 7-segment displays and a shift register board to drive them. It also contains an ultrasonic sensor and temperature / humidity sensor. The included joystick module is a great addition if you want to get 2 directional control in your project.
With it being and Elegoo brand they have designed their own Uno-compatible board rather than supplying an official Arduino board. This keeps costs down, and it functions exactly as the official one does, so you can swap with an official one down the line if you want.
To keep costs down further, the manual and project guides are not printed in a booklet, but supplied as a PDF file instead. It would have been nice to have a printed copy, but you can print them off at home if you want and it's not too much hassle to read from your computer.
As well as a nice big breadboard, you also get a breadboard shield - a board which plugs directly into the top of your Arduino board. It has passthrough so all the pins are still accusable, but you get the bonus of having the circuit all contained within the board footprint which can help if you're prone to clumsily knocking wires out!
The kit is only $44, and to say that it's not much more than an official R3 board you're getting a deal.
Best Official Arduino Starter Kit
As Arduino is open source, anyone can take the schematic and create their own copy of the board. These are known as Arduino-compatibles, and other than a different colour and logo, they are indistinguishable from an official Arduino. For this reason, most manufacturers create their own board to bundle in with a starter kit.
If you want to support the Arduino project, the official Arduino starter kit is definitely worth a look. It features over 100 component and a 170-page project booklet with 12 different projects, from simple LED color mixing, to audio instruments.
With it being an official product, the bundled Uno is an official R3 board with a USB cable. It contains a small breadboard and jumper wires for use in prototyping. A nice touch is that there are multiple lengths of jumper wire, matching the spacing on the breadboard.
It comes with the basics such as LEDs, resistors, diodes, capacitors, and transistors but it also features some basic sensors such as a tilt sensor, a temperature sensor, ambient light sensors, potentiometers and buttons. Also included is an alphanumeric display, a small DC motor, and a servo motor.
Compared to the Elegoo, the official Arduino starter kit is not really value for money at $93, but you are directly supporting the creators.
Best Robotics Starter Kit
If you are looking at getting into robotics, then a general Arduino starter kit might leave you disappointed as they often lack decent the motors. In that case, a dedicated Arduino robot project kit seems a much better proposition.
The Smart Robot Kit by Elegoo has to be the best value robot kit based on the Arduino. It contains everything you need to create a wheeled robot which can use it's sensors to follow a line or object and avoid obstacles. It features a little handheld IR remote control for manually moving the robot, and setting the different modes.
There is also a dedicated mobile app which lets you control the robot's functions without having to point the IR remote at it. Another brilliant feature is the FPV mode, which streams the display from the robot's camera to your phone so you can control it while also viewing the world from the robot's perspective.
The kit contains an Elegoo R3 board, which you can always remove and use in other projects. It features a rechargeable 2000mAh battery which is charged via USB, letting you drive it untethered for an hour or so.
It contains all the wheels, motors, frame and fixings to create a complete project, and as it is all using Arduino, you can modify and upgrade parts if you want to learn more about robotics.
All in, the Elegoo Smart Robot kit is a great project for getting into robotics, and at $60 offers great value for money.
Best Arduino Control Board
When starting with Arduino as a complete novice, you have to learn both the software programming side, and the electronics and wiring side. If you're completely new, this can feel overwhelming, but there are some starter kits which help focus on only the programming part.
An all-in-one board is where multiple different components are wired up together on a single board. With very little in the way of manual connections, they are a great way to learn to interact with components without having to actually wire anything up.
The Freenove all-in-one board is probably the best example of this kind of approach. It features a large board populated with components - you simply plug the included Arduino board in, and the arduino pins are automatically mapped to the different components.
On the board you'd find a collection of buttons, potentiometers and a joystick controller for basic input, along with different LED types such as a dot matrix, bar graph, and 7-segment displays. There are also headers available to attach some of the included extras, such as an LCD display, button pad, ultrasonic sensor, IR remote and motors.
If you're looking to get started with Arduino and want the simplest, mess-free way to tinker, the Freenove kit at $56 is the best choice.