I learned that one of my nieces had an interest in programming.  She was working with robotics at high school and has a summer internship where they had  Arduinos.  I think she was able to borrow an Arduino to experiment with at home but every Maker knows that is not the same as having a piece of kit that is yours to own...and possibly destroy, well, not intentionally, maybe, in some cases, never mind.

So according to the Good Book of Ibles and "The Unwritten Uncle Rules of Spoiling Your Nieces and Nephews Unless They are Brats", I should be putting together a kit to give to her to further her aspirations as a Powerpuff Engineer or Engineer Minion.  Really, it doesn't matter who you are, especially young ladies, the world needs more thinkers and engineers to keep it running.

Putting together a beginner kit fror programming an Arduino is also putting together an intro kit to electronics.  The programming of the Arduino allows it to interface with the real world by using electronic sensors or switches for input.  It provides feedback by causing motors to move, sounds to emit from speakers, or causes LEDs to blink or turn on.  Practical application of theory is always better to learn from.

This Primer will explain what it takes to put an Arduino Beginner and Basic Electronics kit together to get someone going. It may not be inclusive of everything but essentials to get started.  Actually, this is all the extra stuff I had laying around to share. If you take a look at all of those beginner sets, they are kinda pricey and will probably be paying more just for the convenience.

DISCLAIMER: I will probably drop a lot of brand names in this ible.  Any recommendation or opinion is based on my personal experience so YMMV.  I don't get any kickbacks or anything...but it would be nice ;-)

I am not an electronics expert, but I do play one on Instructables. I know enough to be dangerous, the rest I google.

Step 1: Some Stuff Does Not Fall Off the Truck...

As a hoarder Maker, parts can be sourced from a lot of places.  As a cheapskate frugal dad, it took a long time before I decided to pull the trigger and get an Arduino.  Looking back, it's kind of like getting an ink-jet printer.  Relatively low cost initially for the printer itself but the accessories/disposables, the ink or all those additional electronic components can add up. Yeah, just like those American Girl dolls too.

Part of the cost of a product is the support of the company once you get it in your hands.  Electronic components do fail sometimes and it could be that way out of the box.  It could be you only notice it acting wonky after you use it.  Warranties and returns are honored by good businesses.  

Get a genuine Arduino.

I always try to get two.  One to use and a backup. 

I got my Arduinos at my local MicroCenter when I saw them on sale...browsing with all the other geeks.

Some reputable places to get your Arduinos and electronic components are:
Maker Shed

and yes, that old guy on Canal St,  NYC,  tucked away in back of one of those tourist trap mini-malls.

McMaster-Carr , more for the mechanical type parts and materials

Dollar stores
Sniffing out bargains means that you will always find something that may be remotely useful in your projects.  Deep discount or liquidation stores yield some unique items or stuff that begs to be hacked. I have gotten sets of LED candlelights to hack for it's flickering effect LED, bicycle safety flashers to gut for its LEDs and electronics, dome lights to make giant easy buttons, and cheap toys to hack.

I'll admit, I get a lot of stuff off of ebay because of the price.  I haven't tried any outside of the US sellers or those dirt-cheap import electronic sites yet because I still don't trust my mailman to get the mail delivered across town, no wonder they are in such sad shape. If you have the patience to wait several weeks for delivery of a mystery package, then go for it. Know what you are getting into and have realistic expectations of the quality of the goods. I do have some stories about regular packages that were not delivered on time and took a diversion on the way.

Take the seller ratings with a grain of salt and read through the negative feedback comments to see if there really is a problem. Know how to scope out and price your goods. Buy in bulk if you need those items. Bigger lots work out to less cost per item. Know how to put in the bid at the last second. Become an ebay sniper to win auctions. Know when to "buy it now" to guarantee you will have the item. Look through the bid history to size up your opponents.  Take up the "best offer" and place a reasonable amount. Don't forget to figure in the shipping costs or free shipping as part of overall what you will pay. It really helps to have a Paypal account set up for payments.

Alternate Sources
Hand me downs
I got me an ipod. Ipod Classic. Don't be afraid to try to fix up stuff.  I find value in buying factory refurbished items.I look at it as a second factory check to make sure it is good to go.

I dunno, I guess you can sign up in places as a business that would evaluate the product but I don't know if the effort is worth it or that the selection of the parts you get would even be something you could use.

Scavenging, Salvaging, Scrounging, Harvesting...
I have put a lot of electronics out to pasture in the recycling bin.  You can get some parts off of old circuit boards but you have to invest in the time to figure out what they are and then warehouse your parts so you know you have them.  Larger components like motors, potentiometers or transformers I can deal with but unmarked resistors and capacitors are not worth my trouble.  Clipped leads after desoldering are hard to work with and those surface mounted parts (SMT), good luck.
<p>I am getting my first engineering degree and I love to play with microprocessors and microcontrollers at home. I just read your whole post and it was very helpful and entertaining! Thanks</p>
<p>Thanks. Good luck on your studies and career. It helps to read up on whatever your interests are and stock up on tips or trivia that will help you in the future.</p>
hey,friend it's look like u have a great knowlage on arduino i need ur help,i m new to arduino..i want to run arduino programme which i'hv (made for leonardo board only) and check whether there is any error in programme or not..and than i want to upload this programme in programme board and acorrding to programme it'll run 2 gear motor,so how can i check it and load it..can u please tell me step wise instruction or put instructable type vedio..i'll be thankfull,thank you
Welcome to instructables. <br>I haven't seen any arduino simulator programs, there might be something out there though. If you run the &quot;compile program&quot; option in the IDE where you are loading the program, it will run through a syntax check for errors and watch the messages. I do not know what kind of motor you are using but usually you shouldn't directly connect a motor to the output pins on the Arduino. The initial startup power surge or kick required to turn the motor could burn out your board and hence the need for those H-bridge transistor circuits. But if you think you have it physically connected correctly, loading a wonky program onto an arduino will not hurt it. It may lock it up into not responding. Worse case, hit the reset button while your reload the basic blink sketch to get things back to normal. Load the basic blink sketch and change some things around in the program so you get familiar with the compile and upload and run process. Good luck.
<a href="https://github.com/satr/Robot-vacuum-cleaner-controlled-by-Arduino/blob/master/Robot_vacuum_cleaner_controlled_by_Arduino/Robot_vacuum_cleaner_controlled_by_Arduino.ino" rel="nofollow">https://github.com/satr/Robot-vacuum-cleaner-controlled-by-Arduino/blob/master/Robot_vacuum_cleaner_controlled_by_Arduino/Robot_vacuum_cleaner_controlled_by_Arduino.ino</a>thanks a lot for guiding me,i'hv checked program as per your instruction..this are my steps...&gt;open arduino IDE software &gt; write program &gt; save it &gt; tool menu&gt;verify/compile&gt;and in bottom of the page it shows result 'done compiling' and message 'Binary sketch size: 5,304 bytes (of a 28,672 byte maximum)' what it simply means/ my whole programme syntcs is correct and there isn't any error like that !! or not?this is d screen shot of that program. and secondly i'm putting a link of that program only,can u please check it in your arduino software and tell me,programme is ok or not..<br> i'll be thankful.
Sorry, but I am not into analyzing or debugging programs but the best thing I could tell you is to load it up and see how it runs. From there figure out what is not running right and adjust or correct it. The compile is a basic syntax check but what happens physically is the result of your logic flow. If things don't work as expected is it your electronic circuit setup? Motors, power drain, startup response, capacitance and microcontrollers are all things you learn about when delving into the &quot;robotics: world which are not apparent to the end user.
Oh, servo motor units are connected directly to power and the data output pin.
Thanks for putting this together. It made it easier for me to (Frugally...lol) part with the money for a good starter kit. <br> Ken
Getting everything from scratch is not for everybody. If you are willing to pay for the convenience and need everything right away or things are difficult to source and ship, purchasing a kit may be the way to go. Good luck.
step 9, sometimes its better for men just to send the ladies in their life to the experts at Victoria Secret for bras instead of designing them themselves. <br> <br>
I saved a few old cassette players, printers and similar stuff <br>There are various components that are easy to re-purpose various caps, MOSFETS, (usually with heat-sink) mini transformers and chokes, motors, gears etc <br>As you say resistors are too much of a PITA to remove and re-use (plus are pretty cheap new) <br>I ordered an Arduino this evening :) hoping to build a fully programmable ignition unit for my 1974 Honda motorcycle (they are available but I can't afford $500.00+)
I thought a screwdriver was a fully programmable ignition unit for a motorcycle...wait, that's only in New York. Good luck with your projects and be sure to post an instructable.
Well, I learned something. <br>I've heard side cutters called dykes for years but never knew why until now <br>Thanks :)
great intro to arduino uno! will have my students read this! thanks for sharing!
It's not really a guide to using arduino per se but really to give everyone an ideal of what to expect when your passion grows and want to explore using the arduino, it's only a circuit board, what do you do with it. By the way, if you are a teacher, email service@instructables.com for a free pro membership as ibles supports educators and hackerspaces. Thanks.
We like to get old things from Goodwill. Supports a worthwhile charity and we get goodies dirt cheap.
I guess the opposite end of the spectrum is checking out the pawn shops. Most of the electronics in both places are usually obsolete or stuff they could not get rid of on ebay. You may be lucky and find what you need though.
Magnet wire can sometimes be had,dirt cheap from motors and stuff. Seen rc cars for a buck or two, but the controllers were not there. Five dollar vcrs make good rf modulators, If if not that the motors,,future project case and parts can be had, people at goodwill sometimes do not see that, but they are getting smarter. Prices have come up a bit on some of that stuff. The Goodwill computer store is a bit pricy unless you really need a part. I want to go back and get another linksys router or two to try hmmmesh (spelling?).
I know, im working on something
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Excellent instructable. Had minor difficulties understanding the slangs (cos' i'm brazilian) but i pretty much figured it out from the context. ;) <br>And yes, your daughter should be very proud of her dad. Today is the &quot;fathers day&quot; in Brazil, so i hope you are having a good time with your daughter too. <br>About the chinese things, i do think that you may find something both cheap and reliable. I'm about to buy an Ardunio Rev 3 clone for about 9 bucks. Maybe it is worth the try. <br>Congratulations, again.
Haha, what better place to learn English than on the internet? Welcome. <br> <br>I do not dismiss &quot;import goods&quot; at all. I think as long as you are prepared to troubleshoot what might come along and have an initial expectation of the quality of the product, it is good gamble if you have a few dollars to spend. Having been on the help desk/customer support at the vendor side, I understand how frustrating it would be to provide support for things that are just faulty and what if the product isn't even made by your company but you are expecting answers? You see those kind of requests/questions through all the forums of beginners that jump right in. Good luck.
Thank you. That was well worth reading.
Thanks. It was well worth doing.
Amazing ible, im looking forward to more from you
Kind Sir, I'm looking forward to more from you. Time to get your first instructable done.
You sir... are an awesome uncle. Great work
Thanks. <br> <br>Cost of putting together the kit: A couple of bucks. <br>Seeing the grin on the kid's face when they get the gift: Priceless.
Great instructable, i like the whole cheapo/hoarding thing, deep down inside, no one want's to throw old parts away because....because sometime in 10 years I know I'm going to NEED it lol! <br> <br>Also, I don't like using lead free solder, I never found lead free solder that flows correctly, most of the time it doesn't stick to the tip and takes longer to heat up (unless you're using a variable temp). <br> <br>I'll take my 60/40 and suffer the side effects of cancer and depresssion. Just kidding, but if you know where to buy 1/2 decent lead free, I'll definitely take a look. <br> <br>Thanks! subscribed and stuff.
I am down to using up most of my big roll of leaded solder. They don't seem to go as fast as glue sticks but I will use every little bit to where you have to hold the last little piece left with a pair of pliers. I'll have to really check out that leadfree stuff, it does cost a tiny bit more though. Thanks.
and voted, that was the word!

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