Arduino Uno development board

Arduino UNO, The Best Board For Beginners In Zimbabwe.

This entry is part 2 of 6 in the series Welcome To Arduino In Zimbabwe

The board you choose to start with, will either make or completely shatter your Arduino experience. The wrong board can bring an otherwise promising future in electronics development to an abrupt and frustrating end. Especially if you do not have a background in electronics and programming to cushion you. These are the things you should consider before buying your first Arduino development board.

If you are not familiar with the Arduino platform yet, go through our non technical introduction to Arduino. This will bring you up to speed so that we can move at the same pace in this discussion.

Why not just start with any Arduino board?

Technically, you can start with any Arduino board you want. However, for an absolute beginner, doing so may create problems that are otherwise best avoided altogether. I have summarised some of these complications in the following paragraphs.

If you buy a Nano board, for example, you may find that you may need to solder its I/O pins before you can use it on a breadboard. If you do not have the skills and the equipment for this, then it becomes a problem. Additionally, there is the risk of damaging the board if the soldering is not done with care.Your best option would be to look for a reputable technician to have it done properly.

Other boards may require you to set up an external USB to serial connection before you can start working with them. Depending on the set up you choose, some expertise and extra equipment may be required.

Lastly, most of the more specialised boards are difficult to find in Zimbabwe. Their popularity in the market is so low that retailers do not renew their stock often. If their stock runs out, it may be a while before you can expect to find new boards in outlets. Therefore, finding yourself in urgent need of a replacement for one of these rare boards is the last thing you need to deal with as a beginner.

Hopefully you get the idea and you are now in a better position to make an informed decision about your first Arduino board.

So, what makes Arduino Uno such a great board for beginners?

Arduino Uno
My Arduino Uno compatible development board

Arduino Uno is designed for beginners. It is the flagship of Arduino, as well as the most used and the most documented development board of all the Arduino boards.

The board is extremely is user-friendly.The layout of the board is logical and easy to work with. It comes with a sufficient number of input and output pins, that are enough for virtually all beginner level projects.

A built in USB to serial converter makes controlling and communicating with your board easier. This is because most modern computers don’t come with serial ports anymore.

The processing power and memory capacity you will get at the cost of an Arduino Uno, is no doubt one of the best deals you will find in the microcontroller market.

Arduino Uno is a very affordable and common development board. As such, you can find one at your nearest electronics shop.

Likewise, its affordability and availability will also encourage you to experiment more. If you make a mistake and fry your board, you can just as easily and quickly replace it with a new one.

Below is a list of the pros of using an Arduino Uno as a beginner.

  • Arduino Uno is affordable.
  • The board comes with a builtin 5V regulator and a USB to serial converter.
  • It comes with pre-soldered female headers. Soldering additional pins is possible, but not necessary. You can connect your Arduino to other components using male jumper wires straight out of the box.
  • It has many shields which are just as affordable and can fit neatly on the board. A shield is a circuit board that expands the functionality of your Arduino board. They include motor shields, WIFI shields and so on.
  • There are a plethora of sketches (Arduino programs) available online written for Uno based projects. Some may be suited for your project. You can download and use these sketches in your own projects for free and with little to no changes to the sketch or your project layout.
  • It is easier to find solutions to the challenges you will face along the road. Arduino Uno is the most popular Arduino board in use. Therefore, there is a good chance that other users have experienced the same challenges that you will come across. Consequently, there is also a good chance that solutions to these problems have already been found, and are now available on Arduino help forums.
  • The availability and accessibility of documentation allow you to troubleshoot your projects in the rare event that you fail to find a solution on help forums.
  • In Zimbabwe, you are more likely to find Arduino Uno (or compatible boards) at good prices as compared to other boards.
  • You can find local assistance in Zimbabwe should you ever need it.

Are there any drawbacks to using Arduino Uno?

No single development board is perfect for every purpose. Similarly, the Arduino Uno is no exception to this rule. The Arduino Uno is the best board for beginners. That much is clear.

However, you will not remain a beginner forever. Eventually, you will reach a point where your I/O pins are no longer enough for your latest masterpiece. Or where all of a sudden, your microcontroller is no longer as fast as you thought it was. Below are some of the things you will notice as you begin to transition from beginner level to advanced Arduino projects.

Limits of using Arduino Uno for advanced projects (These do not affect you as a beginner)
  • Limited processing power. Projects such as computer vision will take a huge toll on your Arduino Uno’s microcontroller.
  • Limited memory. If try to make a web-server using an Uno board, it won’t be long before you find yourself with depleted memory resources.
  • The number of pins on the Uno boards will limit the size and complexity of your projects
  • Its physical size can make it unsuitable for some wearable electronics projects.
  • Arduino Uno boards are too expensive to use in commercial products.

Clearly, these are not projects for beginners. Nor are they projects that we expect beginners to be building any time soon. When the time comes for you start doing these kind of projects, then your Arduino Uno would have successfully fulfilled its purpose and you will be ready to move on to more powerful (albeit more expensive) Arduino boards, such as the Arduino Mega 2560 or even the Arduino MKR family.

Final Thoughts

Arduino Uno is the best Arduino board for beginners. All things considered, you will find that the Arduino Uno naturally and inevitably fits this position very well.

If you want to buy your Arduino today, please check the products link provided below to get you started or WhatsApp 0780 323 655

As always, we enjoy hearing from you. Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

Next, we will look at the hardware of our Arduino Uno board. See you then!

  • Massimo Banzi – Getting Started with Arduino
  • Ashwin Pajankar – Arduino Made Simple
  • Neil Cameron – Arduino Applied

Further Readings

Series Navigation<< What is Arduino & where can I find one in Zimbabwe?A Simple Guide To The Arduino Uno Hardware For Beginners >>

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