In this article, I want to take a look at popular Arduino starter kits and discuss their contents and whether they are worth the investment. With the Christmas season slowly coming up, you might be considering one of these kits as a present. So I’ll also take a look at how suitable these kits are for beginners.
If you are only interested in Arduino boards, I recommend you take a look at my comparison of recent Arduino development boards. If you’re looking for kits specifically created for STEM, check out the article I wrote covering STEM kits in more detail.
An Official Arduino Kit
The Arduino MKR IoT bundle is probably the easiest way to get started with the Arduino platform. It costs around $70USD (without tax and shipping) and it comes with an Arduino MKR1000 board, a 400-point breadboard for solderless experimenting, and a handful of useful components like LEDs, buttons, an LCD, motors, and various sensors.
The kit guides you through the basics of using the MKR1000 board and includes five online tutorials for different experiments. The kit itself is not the cheapest on this list, but overall you get a good amount of useful components for your money. If you were to buy all of the components included in this kit separately, you’d have to pay around $85.
I can only recommend buying an official Arduino product if you are a beginner. Cheaper clones are tempting but you can’t guarantee consistent quality. Purchasing directly from Arduino, you can count on their official support and make sure that you can have fun with your development board for a long time.
- Good value for money
- Good quality
- Official support
- Good amount of useful components
- Fast shipping
- Relatively expensive
- Could come with more jumper wires
- Only five experiments included (available online)
Cheaper Arduino Kit Alternatives
If you don’t want to spend $70 on a bundle, you can always go with a cheaper alternative. There are hundreds of different variations out there. However, I chose this Arduino Uno Basic Learning kit because I think it is interesting for beginners and a good value for money.
These bundles are usually supplied by Chinese manufacturers so it can take up to a month for your package to arrive. However, you usually get a large number of different components. This one, for example, includes an Arduino Uno clone, two breadboards, various components, sensors, and jumper wires as well as an LCD. Furthermore, the kit will only cost you around $30 (without shipping). But, as mentioned before, the quality can’t always be guaranteed.
- large number of different components
- many experiments
- third party support only
- usually no documentation
- long delivery times
- quality can’t be guaranteed
Arduino Sensor Kits
The bundles discussed above mainly consist of discrete electronic components. They are great if you want to get into the basics of electronics. However, if you want to see fast results, an Arduino sensor kit could be the right one for you.
These bundles usually contain many different sensor breakout boards that are easy to understand, handle, and use. It’s recommended that you have a basic understanding of electronics before using one of these kits because usually, the main purpose of them is to teach you the basics of programming a microcontroller.
The kit I chose contains everything you need to get started and all the components are pre-wired on the board, meaning you can focus on the programming instead of the electronics.
The bundle contains 18 different sensors and devices and will cost you around $60 which is quite expensive for the offered features. If you’d get the components separately, you’d pay around $30. However, as I mentioned, everything is already connected and ready to use out of the box.
- Interesting features right out of the box
- Easy to understand and use
- Previous experience with electronics recommended
- Can get expensive
Bundles That Include a Book
Kits that contain books are the last main category of Arduino starter packs. I don’t want to discuss them in depth because the contents are normally the same as other kits. However, they usually contain a paperback book that explains the experiments and electronic fundamentals in more detail. One example is the official Arduino starter kit.
Things to Check With Arduino Starter Kits
Many different Arduino starter kits are available. You shouldn’t settle for the cheapest one to ensure a minimum of quality but you also shouldn’t pay too much for these kits. It’s important you take a close look at the contents. Make sure that an Arduino development board is included, as many of these kits come without the board to reduce the cost.