best arduino board

Learn All About the Best Arduino Board + Reviews on Five!

Arduino boards have become quite popular among professional coders and programmers for their easy access, learning potential, and versatility, but what are they actually? 

In this guide, we cover everything you must know about the famous microcontrollers, their usage in real life, projects you can make, and reviews five of the best! 

What is an Arduino Board?

An Arduino board, in simple terms, is an electronics platform that converts input into output.

What is the input? The input would be any set of instructions that you’d like your Arduino board to execute. For example: if you preset the temperature using the Arduino board (analog input), the thermostat would be adjusted at the desired setting (output).

How are the instructions given? They are actually programmed into the built-in microcontroller in the Arduino board. 

The word ‘programmed’ might push non-IT people away, but Arduino is actually an open-source platform that is specifically designed to help beginners at electronics learn programming.

The Arduino Programming Language is basically a simplified version of C++, and it takes at most a week to get a hang of it. Even kids can use Arduino-based kits!

Here are some more advantages of using an Arduino board:

  • They are easy to use. Arduino boards are built to facilitate programming for teachers, musicians, architects, and beginners.  
  • They are easy to learn. Arduino boards come with a built-in Bootloader, which assists in loading the code from memory, and the IDE, which works like a text editor and helps users write and compile preferred codes.
  • They are versatile. Arduino boards work with every operating system i.e Windows, Macintosh OSX, Linux etc.
  • They are inexpensive. Arduino boards are easy on the pocket and may be priced as low as $50.

Where is Arduino Used in Real Life?

Arduino boards have a lot of real-world applications, and their scope is far from being limited to the IoT industry. 

The microcontroller’s easy access, flexible interface and simple programming allows:

  • Educators and facilitators to prove the laws of physics, complete a chemistry equation, or build robots to understand computers and help students get hands-on experience.
  • Artists use Arduino as a medium to turn their work interactive and for installations
  • Architects integrate the microcontroller into their designs and prototypes to display an interactive 3D model
  • Musicians use Arduino to turn a normal surface into an instrument

Apart from the above incredible applications, Arduino boards are also widely used in industries to automate tasks and they’re actually all around you. You’ll find Arduino boards integrated in:

  • Industrial machinery
  • Weighing machines
  • Medical instruments
  • Car counter at parking lots
  • Home security and automation systems
  • Pedestrian timer at traffic light signal
  • Emergency lights (day/night) at Railway

What Can You Build With an Arduino Board?

There are at least a million projects you can make with the Arduino boards, simply because they’re so easy to use and learn. Here is a compilation of 10 beginner-friendly projects you can try your hands on:

1. RGB LED Matrix

Used for:

  • Signboards
  • Display charts
  • Song selection showcase

You’ll need:

  • Arduino Nano
  • Power Supply
  • Plywood/polystyrene sheet
  • LM35 Temperature Sensor
  • 48 X Common Anode RGB LEDs
  • Bluetooth Module HC-06
  • 30 X BC337 NPN Transistors
  • 4 X 74HC595N Shift Register IC
  • 6 X BD136 power PNP Transistors
  • 36 X 10KΩ Resistors (¼ W)

2. Heartbeat Sensor

Used for:

  • Displaying heartbeat
  • Alternative to smart watches, fitbits, heart rate monitors

You’ll need:

  • Arduino UNO
  • Mini breadboard
  • Push button
  • 16×2 LCD Display (1)
  • 10KΩ Potentiometer 
  • 330Ω Resistor (Optional – for LCD backlight)
  • Heartbeat Sensor Module (built-in finger probe)

3. Home Automation System (Voice-Activated)

Used for:

  • Remote/voice controlling lights, fans, TVs, AC units
  • Integrating security systems

You’ll need:

  • Arduino UNO
  • HC-05 Bluetooth Module
  • App for Voice-to-Bluetooth transmission
  • Power Supply
  • Connecting wires
  • Breadboard
  • Smartphone
  • 12V Relay (4)
  • 1N4007 PN Junction Diode (4)
  • 2N2222 NPN Transistor (4)
  • 1 KΩ Resistor – 4

4. Plant Watering System

Used for:

  • Detecting plant’s thirst
  • Reducing dehydration and overwatering

You’ll need:

  • Arduino UNO
  • Breadboard
  • Soil moisture sensor
  • Power Supply
  • Block Connector
  • Irrigation hose
  • 12V pump

5. Portable Humidifier

Used for:

  • Controlling humidity in dry homes

You’ll need:

  • Arduino NANO
  • 5V relay
  • Ultrasonic humidifier
  • Electrolytic capacitor

6. Robot Vacuum

Used for:

  • Cleaning floors

You’ll need:

  • Arduino UNO
  • Geared motors
  • Wheels
  • Power transistors
  • Water pump
  • Water driver board
  • Old CDs
  • Headers

7. Smart Medicine Organiser

Used for:

  • Taking right pill at right time thanks to a reminder on an app

You’ll need:

  • Arduino MEGA
  • Micro-servo motor
  • Servo driver
  • AVR-IoT WA Development board
  • LCD touch display
  • Speaker
  • Electronic sensor
  • Photo transistor
  • External power source

8. Flick of the Wrist Musical Instrument

Used for:

  • Control computer, TV, music system with one hand gesture
  • Making music

You’ll need:

  • Arduino UNO
  • Resistor 4.75kΩ
  • Capacitor 10nF
  • Flick Large 3D and gesture tracking
  • 3.5mm jack to 3 RCA 150mm adapter cable
  • Mono enclosed speaker 2W 6Ω
  • 30cm USB Type A and B cable

9. Arduino Robot Car

Used for:

  • Creating an obstacle-avoiding car

You’ll need:

  • Arduino UNO
  • Toy car chassis
  • DC Motors (2)
  • Ultrasonic sensors HC SR-04
  • 9V/12V 1A battery
  • Jumpers
  • Motor driver module L298
  • Single strand wires

10. Universal Remote Device

Used for:

  • Fixing functions of all remotes into one handheld device

You’ll need:

  • Arduino UNO
  • Grove infrared receiver
  • Grove button
  • Grove base shield
  • Grove 16×2 LCD
  • SONY IR remote control
  • KEYES IR remote control

These Arduino projects barely scratch the surface. Practice, polish, and perfect your programming skills by gathering up a few main components, and try your hand at a variety of projects that use the same components. 

Arduino projects are the best way for kids to get hands-on experience and learn electronics safely. Make sure to supervise them so no component is misused. The result will be very rewarding.

The 5 Best Arduino Boards Reviewed

1. Arduino UNO REV3 [A000066]

The Arduino UNO is the most popular choice for beginners and professionals to practice and polish their skills of programming and enter the world of robotics. 

Arduino is an open-source code which allows easy access to learning different programs and building a variety of projects.

It features 14 digital I/O pins of which at least 6 can be converted into PWM outputs for better connectivity. An ICSP header and a reset button is also present. It’s easy to press, and it is a bit restricted to avoid accidental presses.

Features:

  • Microcontroller microchip ATmega328P
  • 5V operating voltage
  • USB standard Type B compatible
  • 14 digital I/O pins
  • 6 PWM digital I/O pins
  • 6 analog input pins
  • 32kB flash memory
  • 16MHz clock speed

Pros

  • Best for beginners to learn programming
  • No troubleshooting needed

Cons

  • Does not come with instructions

2. ELEGOO UNO R3 Board for Arduino

The ELEGOO Uno R3 is one of the best ‘first-copies’ of the actual Arduino board. It’s fitted with an industry-leading ATmega328P chip (recently modified to 16U2 chip for faster memory) and is compatible with the Arduino IDE for writing and compiling code directly into the board.

The 14 I/O ports and 6 PWM output sources are adequate and run the high-quality body at maximum power, processing data fast – at a clock speed of 16MHz!

Features:

  • ATmega328P microcontroller
  • 7-12 V input voltage
  • 5V and 3.3V electric current
  • 14 digital I/O pins
  • 6 PWM outputs
  • 8 analog inputs
  • 32k flash memory
  • 16MHz clock speed
  • 1 USB cable

Pros

  • Versatile power supply, can be powered via USB and external power source
  • Clear, printed labels on every button for easy access

Cons

  • Does not come wiThe base isn’t insulated, may overheat

3. ELEGOO MEGA R3 Board Compatible with Arduino

The ELEGOO Mega R3 Arduino-compatible microcontroller is loved by users for its friendly interface, easy operation, and long lifespan. Special features like the silk screened headers add an extra touch to its overall benefit. 

The number of I/O pins is exceptional – 54 ports of which 15 are PWM output sources! Like the original Arduino, the Elegoo mega R3 is equipped with 16U2 and 16AU chips.

Also, it is perfectly compatible with Arduino IDE.

Features:

  • ATmega16U2 microcontroller
  • ATmega2560 microcontroller
  • 5V and 3.3V regulator
  • 7 -12 V DC input
  • 54 digital I/O pins
  • 15 PWM outputs
  • 16 analog inputs
  • 4 UARTs
  • 16MHz crystal oscillator
  • ICSP header
  • Reset button

Pros

  • Preprogrammed with a bootloader for faster processing of new codes
  • Resettable fuse protects USB ports from overheating, short-circuits and overcurrent

Cons

  • Heavier than most microcontroller boards

4. KEYESTUDIO Leonardo R3 Microcontroller Development Board for Arduino

The KEYESTUDIO Leonardo R3 microcontroller is a neat little mini computer, perfect for engineers looking to emulate their mouse, keyboard, or joysticks. 

It features a built-in USB connection in the Arduino-like ATmega32u4 microcontroller. This allows it to pose as a mouse and a keyboard to a connected PC or a laptop.

Features:

  • ATmega32u4 microcontroller
  • Separate USB serial chip
  • Built-in USB connection
  • 20 digital I/O ports 
  • 7 PWM outputs
  • 12 analog inputs
  • 16MHz crystal oscillator
  • Power jack
  • ICSP header
  • Reset button
  • 32kB flash memory
  • 5V operating voltage
  • 7-12V DC input voltage

Pros

  • Better than the Arduino board
  • Does not need a secondary processor
  • FCC and CE certified for eco-friendly production

Cons

  • Does not fit in a breadboard without an adapter

5. Deegoo Mini Nano v3.0 Microcontroller Board for Arduino

The Deegoo Mini Nano v3.0 is an Arduino-compatible microcontroller that works best for small applications and emulations. It is breadboard-friendly, has ample space and great processing power.

Features:

  • ATmega328P-AU microcontroller
  • Arduino nano v3.0 compatible
  • 7-12V input voltage
  • Pre-installed bootloader
  • 8 analog input pins
  • 5V operating voltage
  • 14 digital I/O pins
  • 6 PWM outputs
  • 1 mini USB cable given

Pros

  • Small form factor, easily portable and breadboard-friendly
  • Can be connected via USB type-B or an external adapter

Cons

  • Works with old bootloaders

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Arduino good for beginners?

Yes, in fact, Arduino is specially designed for novice engineers. It is a microcontroller that simply converts input into output. It is easy to access, use, and maintain. Not to mention, cost-effective too. Beginners in electrical engineering or electronics can use Arduino for multiple projects.

Is it hard to learn Arduino?

Arduino isn’t difficult to learn. Arduino, a microcontroller, is actually equipped with a simplified version of C++ (a programming language). It is open-source meaning it’s easily accessible, perfect for beginners in electronics and compatible with all operating systems. Arduino is not only easy on the mind in terms of learning, it’s also easy on the pocket.

Do professionals use Arduino?

Yes, Arduino is used by professional engineers and teachers for a wide range of official and domestic projects; however, the microcontroller is specially designed for beginners to get a hand at programming, so its performance is highly simplified. This deems it unsuitable to withstand large industrial operations.

What language does Arduino use?

Arduino basically uses a simplified version of C++ (a programming language). It’s easy to learn for beginners at coding, easy to access because it’s open-source and reliable as it is compatible with all operating systems – not just Windows. All programs written using the Arduino Programming Language are termed as ‘sketch’.

Can Arduino run Python?

As of yet, Arduino boards cannot run Python, but the microcontroller can be programmed with MicroPython by using the OpenMV editor. Simply install MicroPython to the software. It will be directed to the Arduino board after which you can easily write scripts to it.

Does Arduino need a power supply?

Yes, all Arduino boards are activated by an external power supply. Most commonly an AC-to-DC adapter is used, which plugs into a wall point. They can also function via USB cables, power banks or a battery. Wireless connections like AA batteries are used to build a portable Arduino project and they can run for at most 40 hours.

Brief Summary

Arduino projects can be time-consuming but they are very rewarding. You could have a smart robot car made from scratch or even a home automation system. There are a million possibilities – each better than the next! All you have to do is pick out the best Arduino board and start building.