Arduino boards come in a variety of shapes and sizes. While there's some overlap with the capabilities of maker boards such as a Raspberry Pi, it's ultimately a different device. Whereas a single-board computer provides desktop functionality, an Arduino instead operates as a microcontroller. Therefore, it's actually recommended to snag both a development board and a microcontroller. For those new to the Arduino space, the ultra-popular microprocessor may be intimidating. But it's actually quite ideal for inexperienced makers. Check out the best Arduino projects for beginners, and learn why you should use an Arduino!
What is an Arduino?
An Arduino board is a microcontroller or mircoprocessor. Although the board itself is an Arduino, for an Arduino project you'll need not only an Arduino microcontroller but the Integrated Development Environment (IDE). The IDE runs on a PC, and it's here where code is written and uploaded. In turn, code uploaded to an Arduino via the IDE controls various hardware input and output (I/O) devices on the Arduino board.
Because Arduino boards are engineered to interact with hardware components, loads of accessories exist. For instance, LEDs, motors, speakers, sensors, and shields function with Arduino boards. With a ton of add-ons, Arduino boards tout nearly limitless use cases.
Why Should You Use an Arduino Board?
Arduino boards remain beneficial for a bevy of different projects. Though often single-board computers (SBCs) may provide a similar feature set, an Arduino accomplishes tasks well because of simplicity. There's merely the hardware, IDE, and any connected devices. As such, it's easier to troubleshoot than a dev board which often employs an underlying operating system.
Moreover, its impressive community posits the Arduino as an excellent option for budding makers. Since Arduino achieved widespread adoption, you'll find plenty of Arduino forums, tutorials, and troubleshooting tips and tricks. While the necessity to get hands-on with code may make Arduino do-it-yourself (DIY) projects appear difficult, it's actually among the best maker boards for beginners.
Best Arduino Projects for Beginners
Advanced Arduino projects such as smart mirrors and acid battery capacity testers offer useful final products. However, Arduino novices have plenty of opportunities to tinker.
Easily the top Arduino for beginners is blinking an LED. While it's a simple project, there's a lot to learn. For one, controlling an LED with an Arduino delivers an overview of how the IDE and any code uploaded interacts with an Arduino board. Plus blinking an LED should prove intuitive enough, yet rewarding. For Arduino starters, this makes Arduino tinkering appear far less daunting. There's nothing like basking in the (literal) glow of that first blinked LED. Try blinking LEDs in various ways, such as a single blink, repeated blink, fading an LED, and controlling a string of LEDs
2. Sensors with Arduino: Temperature, Moisture, Gyroscope, etc.
Because of superb connectivity, a sensor add-on for Arduino boards proves an excellent starting point for beginners. With one, you'll be able to capture data for analysis. Moreover, with an Arduino and Arduino-capable sensor, you can make your own DIY smart home gadgets. You'll need an Arduino, breadboard, a few jumper wires, and of course an Arduino-compatible sensor. There are tons of options including temperature moisture sensors, gyroscopes, and accelerometers.
3. Servo Creations
Likewise, servo motors function flawlessly with Arduino boards. Getting started with servo and Arduino simply entails hooking up an Arduino, breadboard, and servo. Upload some code with an IDE, and you'll be well on your way to sweeping a servo back and forth. This on its own can be fun, and provides the foundation of neat maker projects such as automated window blinds.
While you can connect sensors to capture data, putting everything together for a functioning project yields a satisfying result. An automatic plant watering system might sound challenging, but it's pretty easy. A starter kit provides all necessary items, but you can cobble together your own DIY version with an Arduino, moisture sensors, piping, and control valves. Just add code. I've had success with an Elecrow Arduino-powered smart plant watering kit, though online communities are filled with similar projects. Even fairly green makers will be well on their way to creating a smart agriculture system.
A real-time clock (RTC) Arduino add-on provides an intuitive tinkering base with loads of possibilities. Essentially, a real-time clock tracks, well, the time. Most Arduino RTC modules employ a crystal oscillator with a 32.768 kHz frequency, similar to what you'll find in many quartz watches or clocks. Because an RTC can continue functioning even in sleep mode, it may be used to wake a device from sleeping. You'll need an Arduino, RTC module, and depending on your project, other hardware such as a dot matrix LCD display. You'll then be well on your way to exploring Arduino hardware and software with an RTC module.
5 Best Arduino Projects Beginners: Final Thoughts
While an Arduino might appear challenging since it uses code in the IDE, it's arguably easier than a single-board computer. By eschewing an underlying operating system on the board itself, there's less that can go wrong. If a project isn't working as intended, troubleshooting is as easy as checking code and ensuring hardware is properly configured. Since it's such a popular platform, Arduino is an excellent starting place for aspiring makers.
My first ever Arduino project was blinking an LED. Despite its simplicity, it remains an incredibly rewarding endeavor, and an empowering project as well. Working with Arduino is often like playing with LEGOs: just make sure you connect hardware properly and follow directions, if so everything should function fine. With a bevy of beginner-friendly Arduino projects, it's the perfect platform for budding Arduino DIYers.
Your turn: what Arduino projects are you working on?