Which Arduino Board to Buy

Confused about Which Arduino Board to Buy for your next project, then this blog will help you

What is Arduino?

Arduino is a prototype platform (open-source) based on easy-to-use hardware and software. It consists of a circuit board with a microcontroller and other supporting components mounted on it, that can be programmed using a ready-made software called Arduino IDE (Integrated Development Environment), which is used to write and upload the computer code to the physical board.

Key Features of Arduino are:

  • Arduino boards are able to read analog or digital input signals from different sensors and turn it into an output such as activating a motor, turning LED on/off, connecting to the cloud, and many other actions.
  • You can control your board functions by sending a set of instructions to the microcontroller on the board via Arduino IDE.
  • Unlike most previous programmable circuit boards, Arduino does not need an extra piece of hardware (called a programmer) in order to load a new code onto the board. You can simply use a USB cable.
  • Additionally, the Arduino IDE uses a simplified version of C++, making it easier to learn to program.
  • Finally, Arduino provides a standard form factor that breaks the functions of the micro-controller into a more accessible package.

What can you do with Arduino?

Arduino is an incredibly versatile microcontroller board with limitless possibilities for developing electronics applications and prototypes. Below are some of the basic Arduino projects that you can build. By this, you will have an idea of, what can be done using Arduino.

Projects using Arduino:

  1. LED Blinkies: You can create different LED patterns using multiple LEDs.
  2. Giving inputs from the keypad: Giving inputs from the keypad and performing some action in response. such as Turning ON and OFF an LED, relay, buzzer, etc.
  3. Obstacle avoidance system: Using an Infrared sensor, an obstacle avoidance moving robot can be built.
  4. Humidity and Temperature measuring system: DHT11 sensor is used to measure the ambient humidity and temperature, and can display on the LCD or OLED display.
  5. Distance measuring with Ultrasonic sensor: Distance between the objects can be measured using an ultrasonic sensor and Arduino.
  6. Building an Automatically controlled moving robot: As mentioned above, an automatically controlled moving robot can be built.
  7. Connect to the web and communicate data using a WiFi module: The DHT11 sensor data can be published to online platforms like “Thingspeak” and can be monitored from any part of the world using the Internet.
  8. Simple Pulse oximeter monitoring system: A pulse oximeter using a MAX30100 sensor can be built, which measures the heartrate and the Spo2 in our blood.
  9. Simple home automation system: Using an HC-05 Bluetooth module and the relay, home automation systems can be built.
  10. Soil moisture monitoring system: A soil moisture monitoring system can be built and can be automated to provide water to the plants.

Different types of Arduino Boards:

  1. Arduino UNO

  2. Arduino NANO

  3. Arduino Leonardo

  4. Arduino Micro

  5. Arduino NANO Every

  6. Arduino NANO 33 BLE

  7. Arduino NANO 33 BLE Sense

  8. Arduino MKR Zero

  9. Arduino UNO Wifi

  10. Arduino Due

  11. Arduino Mega 2560

  12. Arduino MKR VIDOR 4000

  13. Arduino Zero

  14. Arduino NANO 33 IoT

  15. Arduino MKR Fox 1200

  16. Arduino MKR WAN 1300

  17. Arduino GSM 1400

  18. Arduino MKR Wifi 1010

  19. Arduino NANO RP2040 Connect

How do you select the right Arduino Board for your needs:

The correct Arduino board for your project can be selected by going through the below parameters. By looking into the below-mentioned parameters and comparing them with the specification of the Arduino board. 

Microcontroller (MCU): The microcontroller is the heart (or, more appropriately, the brain) of the Arduino board. The Arduino development board is based on AVR microcontrollers of different types, each of which has different functions and features.

 

Input Voltage: This is the suggested input voltage range for the board. The board may be rated for a slightly higher maximum voltage, but this is the safe operating range. A handy thing to keep in mind is that many of the Li-Po batteries that we carry are 3.7V, meaning that any board with an input voltage including 3.7V can be powered directly from one of our Li-Po battery packs.

 

System Voltage: This is the system voltage of the board, i.e. the voltage at which the microcontroller is actually running. This is an important factor for shield compatibility since the logic level is now 3.3V instead of 5V. You always want to be sure that whatever outside system with which you're trying to communicate is able to match the logic level of your controller.

 

Clock Speed: This is the operating frequency of the microcontroller and is related to the speed at which it can execute commands. Although there are rare exceptions, most ATmega microcontrollers running at 3V will be clocked at 8MHz, whereas most running at 5V will be clocked at 16MHz.

 

Digital I/O: This is the number of digital input/output (I/O) pins that are broken out on the Arduino board. Each of these can be configured as either an input or an output. Some are capable of PWM, and some double as serial communication pins.

 

Analog Inputs: This is the number of analog input pins that are available on the Arduino board. Analog pins are labeled "A" followed by their number, they allow you to read analog values using the analog-to-digital converter (ADC) in the ATMega chip. Analog inputs can also be configured as more digital I/O if you need it!

 

PWM: This is the number of digital I/O pins that are capable of producing a Pulse-width modulation. (PWM) signal. A PWM signal is like an analog output; it allows your Arduino to "fake" an analog voltage between zero and the system voltage.

 

UART: This is the number of separate serial communication lines your Arduino board can support. On most Arduino boards, digital I/O pins 0&1 double as your serial send and receive pins and are shared with the serial programming port. Some Arduino boards have multiple UARTs and can support multiple serial ports at once. All Arduino boards have at least one UART for programming, but some aren't broken out to pins that are accessible.

 

Flash Space: This is the amount of program memory that the chip has available for you to store your sketch. Not all of this memory is available, as a very small portion is taken up by the bootloader (usually between 0.5 and 2KB).

 

Programming Interface: This is how you hook up the Arduino board to your computer for programming. Some boards have a USB jack on board so all you need to do is plug them into a USB cable. Others have a header available so that you can plug in an FTDI Basic breakout or FTDI Cable. Other boards, like the Mini, break out the serial pins for programming but aren't pin-compatible with the FTDI header. Any Arduino board that has a USB jack onboard also has some other hardware that enables the serial to USB conversion. Some boards, however, don't need additional hardware because their microcontrollers have built-in support for USB.

 

Wifi-enabled: Some Arduino boards come with built-in WiFi modules. The Arduino boards can be implemented in IoT applications. So if your application has IoT technology and communicates data through the Internet, the Arduino IoT boards such as Arduino WiFi can be used.

Advantages of Arduino:

  • Coordination between software and hardware, simplicity, and compactness are the most important advantages of Arduino. When one talks about a development board, we expect it to have all the necessary features so that the user can set it up and program it. In Most Arduino boards, you can connect a USB cable to the Arduino board and transfer a program written in the Arduino IDE at the push of a button.
  • Another advantage of the Arduino platform is compatibility with all operating systems, contrary to most AVR programming software that is only compatible with Windows and Linux.
  • The wide variety of Arduino boards and considering the needs of different users is another advantage of Arduino. Arduino has more than 40 different boards; however, only a small number of Arduino boards are well known. You can visit the Arduino website for all the boards.
  • Growing resources and libraries is another advantage point for Arduino. The open-source hardware and software have taken Arduino beyond an electronic board. Thousands of developers using Arduino all over the world on a daily basis, design new modules and hardware for Arduino and provide their libraries with plenty of examples to users free of charge. This large amount of training and content makes it possible for you to complete your project by combining codes and libraries in the least possible time.
  • In addition to Arduino’s communication with various modules and sensors alongside various libraries for said modules, there are many libraries connecting Arduino boards to other software such as MATLAB, Simulink, LabVIEW, and even Python. If you are not an expert in the C language or need to use a computer environment for your project, do not worry, because Arduino makes this easily possible. Today you can buy an Arduino UNO for a very low cost, easily connect sensors and operators to your computer. No longer will you need expensive DAQ cards.
  • Besides all the positive capabilities of Arduino hardware and software, we should mention that the Arduino platform is somewhat educational and essentially one of the goals of this platform was to educate electronics to all. Easy-to-use programming language, numerous tutorials, libraries, and the Arduino Forum community for sharing information and supporting Arduino users are among the educational goals of this platform.

Disadvantages of Arduino:

  • Having mentioned the advantage of Arduino, it is only fair to mention some of its disadvantages. A variety of boards with different applications can be a strength for Arduino, the lack of an inclusive board that incorporates most of these features can be a disadvantage. Among Arduino boards, DUE has the best features of Arduino boards; however, its size is not ideal for many projects. Furthermore, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth are not included in this board. Generally, Arduino has barely considered IoT and industrial boards in their products. Arduino boards designed for these fields cannot compete with competitors in terms of price.
  • Another disadvantage of Arduino is the limited use of newer more powerful ARM processors. Less power consumption and faster processing speed of these processors have been sacrificed for Arduino’s prejudice in using AT processors. Production of 101 board might be a breakthrough for Arduino, so a new generation of processors will emerge.
  • Not installing the same USB port and failure to use all features of the microcontroller in most boards is another disadvantage of Arduino.

List of best Arduino Boards:

All the Arduino boards are best for their particular applications, one can choose the best Arduino boards by looking into the “How do you select the right board for your needs:” sections.

Below are some of the commonly used boards for certain applications. 

For entry-level:

1. Arduino UNO

Arduino UNO

Microcontroller

ATmega328P

USB connector

USB-B

Built-in LED Pin

13

Digital I/O Pins

14

Analog input pins

6

PWM pins

6

UART

Yes

I2C

Yes

SPI

Yes

I/O Voltage

5V

Input voltage (nominal)

7-12V

DC Current per I/O Pin

20 mA

Power Supply Connector

Barrel Plug

Clock speed

16 MHz

USB-Serial Processor

ATmega16U2 16 MHz

Memory

2KB SRAM, 32KB FLASH, 1KB EEPROM

Weight

25 g

Dimensions

53.4 mm x 68.6 mm

2. Arduino NANO

Arduino NANO

Microcontroller

ATmega328

USB connector

Mini-B USB

Built-in LED Pin

13

Digital I/O Pins

14

Analog input pins

8

PWM pins

6

UART

RX/TX

I2C

A4 (SDA), A5 (SCL)

SPI

D11 (COPI), D12 (CIPO), D13 (SCK). Use any GPIO for Chip Select (CS).

I/O Voltage

5V

Input voltage (nominal)

7-12V

DC Current per I/O Pin

20 mA

Clock speed

16 MHz

Memory

2KB SRAM, 32KB flash 1KB EEPROM

Weight

5gr

Dimensions

18 mm x 45 mm

3. Arduino Micro

Arduino Micro

Microcontroller

ATmega32u4

USB connector

Micro USB

Built-in LED Pin

13

Digital I/O Pins

20

Analog input pins

12

PWM pins

7

UART

Yes

I2C

Yes

SPI

Yes

I/O Voltage

5V

Input voltage (nominal)

7-12V

DC Current per I/O Pin

10 mA

Clock speed

6 6MHz

Memory

2.5KB SRAM, 32KB FLASH, 1KB EEPROM

Weight

13 g

Dimensions

18 mm x 48 mm

4. Arduino Leonardo

Arduino Leonardo

Microcontroller

ATmega32u4

USB connector

Micro USB (USB-B)

Built-in LED Pin

13

Digital I/O Pins

20

Analog input pins

12

PWM pins

7

UART

Yes

I2C

Yes

SPI

Yes

I/O Voltage

5V

Input voltage (nominal)

7-12V

DC Current per I/O Pin

10 mA

Power Supply Connector

Barrel Plug

Clock speed

16 MHz

Memory

2.5KB SRAM, 32KB FLASH, 1KB EEPROM

Weight

20 g

Dimensions

53.3 mm x 68.6 mm

 

Enhanced featured boards:

1. Arduino NANO 33 BLE

Arduino NANO 33 BLE

Microcontroller

nRF52840 

Operating Voltage

3.3V

Input Voltage (limit)

21V

DC Current Per I/O Pin

15 mA

Clock Speed

64MHz

CPU Flash Memory

1MB (nRF52840)

SRAM

256KB (nRF52840)

EEPROM

none

Digital Input / Output Pins

14

PWM Pins

all digital pins

UART

1

SPI

1

I2C

1

Analog Input Pins

8 (ADC 12 bit 200 samples)

Analog Output Pins

Only through PWM (no DAC)

External Interrupts

all digital pins

LED_BUILTIN

13

USB

Native in the nRF52840 Processor

Dimensions

45 mm x 18 mm

Weight

5 gr (with headers)


2. Arduino NANO 33 BLE sense

Arduino NANO 33 BLE sense

Microcontroller

nRF52840

Operating Voltage

3.3V

Input Voltage (limit)

21V

DC Current Per I/O Pin

15 mA

Clock Speed

64MHz

CPU Flash Memory

1MB (nRF52840)

SRAM

256KB (nRF52840)

EEPROM

none

Digital Input / Output Pins

14

PWM Pins

all digital pins

UART

1

SPI

1

I2C

1

Analog Input Pins

8 (ADC 12 bit 200 ksamples)

Analog Output Pins

Only through PWM (no DAC)

External Interrupts

all digital pins

LED_BUILTIN

13

USB

Native in the nRF52840 Processor

IMU

LSM9DS1 

Microphone

MP34DT05 

Gesture, Light, Proximity

APDS9960 

Barometric Pressure

LPS22HB 

Temperature, Humidity

HTS221 

Dimension

45 mm x 18 mm

Weight

5 gr (with headers)


For IoT based projects:

1. Arduino NANO 33 IoT

Arduino NANO 33 IoT

Microcontroller

SAMD21 Cortex®-M0+ 32bit low power ARM MCU 

Radio Module

u-blox NINA-W102 

Secure Element

ATECC608A

Operating Voltage

3.3V

Input Voltage (limit)

21V

DC Current Per I/O Pin

7 mA

Clock Speed

48MHz

CPU Flash Memory

256KB

SRAM

32KB

EEPROM

none

Digital Input / Output Pins

14

PWM PINS

11 (2, 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 11, 12, 16 / A2, 17 / A3, 19 / A5)

UART

1

SPI

1

I2C

1

Analog Input Pins

8 (ADC 8/10/12 bit)

Analog Output Pins

1 (DAC 10 bit)

External Interrupts

All digital pins (all analog pins can also be used as interrput pins, but will have duplicated interrupt numbers)

LED_Builtin

13

USB

Native in the SAMD21 Processor

IMU

LSM6DS3 

Dimensions

45 mm x 18 mm


Weight

5 gr (with headers)

2. Arduino UNO WiFi

Arduino UNO WiFi

Microcontroller

ATmega4809 

Operating Voltage

5V

Input Voltage (Recommended)

7 - 12V

Digital I/O Pins

14 — 5 Provide PWM Output

PWM Digital I/o Pins

5

Analog Input Pins

6

DC Current Per I/O Pin

20 mA

DC Current For 3.3V Pin

50 mA

Flash Memory

48 KB (ATmega4809)

SRAM

6,144 Bytes (ATmega4809)

EEPROM

256 Bytes (ATmega4809)

Clock Speed

16 MHz

Radio Module

u-blox NINA-W102

Secure Element

ATECC608A 

Inertial Measurement Unit

LSM6DS3TR 

LED_BUILTIN

25

Dimension

68.6 mm x 53.4 mm

Weight

25 g

3. Arduino NANO RP2040 Connect

Arduino NANO RP2040 Connect

Microcontroller

Raspberry Pi® RP2040 

USB Connector

Micro USB

Built-in LED pin

13

Digital I/O Pins

20

Analog Input Pins

PWM Pins

20 (Except A6, A7)

External Interrupts

20 (Except A6, A7)

Wi-Fi

Nina W102 uBlox module

Bluetooth®

Nina W102 uBlox module

Secure Element

ATECC608A-MAHDA-T Crypto IC

IMU

LSM6DSOXTR (6-axis)

Microphone 

MP34DT05

UART

Yes

I2C

Yes

SPI

Yes

Circuit operating voltage

3.3V

Input Voltage (VIN)

5-21V

DC Current Per I/O Pin

4 mA

Clock Speed

133 MHz

Memory

16MB Flash IC

Nina W102 Ublox Module Memory

448 KB ROM, 520KB SRAM, 16MB Flash

Weight

6 g

Dimensions

18 mm x 45 mm

Conclusion:

In this blog, we have gone through, what is Arduino? What can you do with Arduino? Types of Arduino boards. How do you select the right board for your needs? Advantages and Disadvantages of Arduino Boards and List of best Arduino boards. So by this information, we can select the best Arduino board that will be suitable for our applications.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Which is the most popular Arduino board?

The most popular Arduino board is Arduino UNO. This is very much suitable for beginners, who are starting their embedded systems journey.

2. What is better Arduino Uno or Nano?

Both are better in different applications. Arduino UNO is not a breadboard-friendly board. While Arduino NANO can be inserted into the breadboard. 

3. Which is the best Arduino board for beginners?

Arduino UNO or Arduino NANO will be best for beginners.

4. Which is the Best Arduino board for robotics?

Arduino Mega 2560 may be better for robotics projects. As it contains more GPIO pins as compared to other Arduino Boards.

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published