My apologies for an off-topic post, but there seems to be no Usenet
group for Arduinos as there is for Raspberry Pis, and I'm confident
plenty of readers here will have experience of them.
My question is, where should one begin with Arduinos? Just looking at
there are so many
"He who will not reason is a bigot;
he who cannot is a fool;
I guess it depends on how comfortable you are with
- spending time solving puzzles in areas you are not familiar with,
- writing programs, and
- wiring up electronics
The Arduino doesn't require a lot of knowledge in either electronics or
programming; most "starter kit" packages include instructions on both that
will get you started.
/My/ recommendation is to get a "starter kit" package, and take it from
there. These kits come with an arduino, wires, a small prototyping board (to
assist with wiring), battery pack, and a few devices (like LEDs,
potentiometers, buzzers, resistors, and switches), and a booklet of simple
projects. Typically, these basic kits are low cost, and have enough
challange to tell you whether or not working with an Arduino is for you.
Once you get past the basic kit, you will be in a better place to evaluate
the benefits and drawbacks of the variety of Arduino (and Arduino-like)
FWIW, I fiddled around with an Arduino for a week or two, then got a
handfull of ATTiny85 boards, a Raspberry PI, and a few NodeMCU boards. Now,
you can't stop me :-)
No usenet group ... but your search engine of choice will discover a
lot of other resources.
If you're already doing things with a Raspberry Pi then you probably
already understand how to attach things to GPIO lines, and so on, and
may well have a good stock of components. If that's NOT the case then
you may benefit from one of the many starter kits that come with a
selection of common components to play with ... but if you already know
your way around a Pi then you probably already have the bits ...
.. except that some Arduino devices have to be programmed over a
serial interface, and RS-232 interfaces are quite uncommon on modern
PCs. You should either make sure that you choose an Arduino board that
can be programmed directly from USB, or get a USB-Serial interface or
"FTDI Friend" for programming.
My first "Arduino" board was not an official Arduino, but a "Trinket"
board from Adafruit. The trinket is very small and limited, but also
very cheap and it does have enough USB hardware to allow programming
(though you can't use the USB port as a serial console). The Adafruit
support pages are very well written, and gave all the information I
needed to get started with the hardware and the Arduino development
I meant to add ... you will read that an Arduino "sketch" is written in
"the Arduino language". This is really just C++, but Arduino programs
don't have a main() function, they have a setup() function that is
called once, and a loop() function that is called repeatedly while the
The standard Arduino IDE uses the gcc toolchain, cross-compiling for
whatever CPU the target board has, so it's a fairly modern version of
C++. It has support for recent language features such as constexpr and
lambda functions, which can help keep the generated code small.
Don't expect to be able to use e.g. STL containers on some of the
smaller devices, though, they don't have the memory. Even the more
powerful Arduinos are a lot less powerful than a Pi.
Don't worry about getting genuine Arduino, clones are mostly fine.
Start with something like this
(cheaper are available from China, but this is hardly expensive)
and you can get started with writing and loading programs, handling
input (switches) and output (LEDs). Once you've got the hang of that
add some sensors (a potentiometer is the simplest analogue input device,
but light and temperature are popular starters) and some more
interesting outputs like stepper motors. By the time you've fiddled
with those you should have ideas for practical projects and know what
to buy next.
If you have a basic understanding of the electronics and buy components
from Chinese eBay sellers rather than pre-packaged modules you'll save
money, but having said that even the most overblown deluxe starter kits
aren't /that/ much, although you may be more likely to find useful
applications if they cost under a tenner.