Product Review: The Arduino Starter Kit

The Arduino Starter Kit is an electronics kit that you are going to use as a home lab experiment process to learn all sorts of technical skills and knowledge.  It does a pretty darn good job at starting you out learning a lot of different aspects of electronics technology at a very simple level and at the same time teaches you simple computer programming.  Here is my list of  what this kit may find value for  you:

  • Simple, introduction to electronics theory that just keeps growing beyond the implied limits.  I used to build electronic kits as a child and each kit’s learning stopped at the end of building it and using the device.  This course seems to have no end.  You just  building their kits and then your own devices.
  • Simple electronics circuitry is explained in a book as you have to put together as parts into a circuit board.  The circuits you are expected to build are specified at the beginning, tied down to that subject but as you progress through the examples  is the fact that you can use what you have learned and make your own systems any time you want.  The more you learn the kit basics the more of a chance you can go as far as your imagination is capable implementing what you have learned.  Simple electronics theory is nice to learn but this kit pushes you to value the binding of electronics and computer programming and it does this as a sort of unified approach: you learn both at the same time.
  • Input and output devices are supplied that are very basic but you should have fun with them and you can purchase more sophisticated devices later to expand this basic kit.
  • Computer programming is an integral part of this course so you should quickly appreciate the marriage of electronics and the power of controlling those components through your knowledge of computer commands.  Also, you learn the limited power of a micro-controller with its own 131 specified instruction set and it is up to you to know how to use some, most, or all those instructions.

The kit I recommend you buy first is the Arduino Starter Kit.  Amazon also sell this kit: Arduino Starter Kit – English Official Kit With 170 Page Book – K000007

What I do like:

  • The kit is full of parts and seems complete.  It has so many parts I had to go to Home Depot and buy a parts bin organizer. (12.5 in. 34-Compartment Double-Sided Organizer  HDX 6 942629 242475.  My cost $8.97 [12/16]. )  All the parts fit into this box but the circuit board and cardboard cut outs do not.
  • I like the fact that there are many approaches to this kit:
    • You can just do the experiments and have fun and appreciate computer driven art.
    • You can learn electronics theory and applications in a self paced way.
    • You can learn computer programming.  This approach is not direct but you slide into learning computer programming by necessity.  The programming is tied to a project you are expected to finish and as such you learn not just from a book but also from a lab experience.  The book I chose to enter this door is Sams Teach Yourself Arduino Programming in 24 HoursU by Richard Blum.
    • There is an electronic engineer approach where you can use this kit to learn some simple electronic engineering skills.  I recommend the book “Exploring Arduino Tools And Techniquies For Engineering Wizardry by Jeremy Blum”.
    • Anyone who takes this course seriously will build a technical skills that might just be rewarded in future technical employment.

Bumps In Learning.

I run into this in some past school courses, books and now in learning kits.  A bump occurs when some part of the learning process skids to a stop or slows down.  For me, the Spaceship Interface, chapter 2, introduced the computer code which I absolutely know nothing about.  I found that I had to reread, dissect the key points, make my own note explanations to get over this part of the course.

What I do not like:

The Arduino Projects Books is hard to read for me.  The people who put this book together valued design over readability.  The type is too small.  The type is not dark enough in certain sections.  If you get lucky, you can find the book as an internet copy where you can view the pages on your computer and then magnify any portion of the electronic page on your screen.