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X-post: Best starter materials for Arduino?

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When I asked my brother what my nephew wanted for Christmas, he said dn was interested in building a computer, and I thought some Arduino stuff might be a good fit. But I've only heard about this product about two weeks ago here on the Hive, and I have no idea where to start. And it's expensive! The obvious thing would be to get him the Starter Kit that's sold (Inventor's Kit, I think it's called now), but that's $100! I usually spend closer to $25-35 per nephew - his birthday's in Feb and I thought it could be a joint Xmas/Bday gift, but that's still steep, and I think it would be good to know he'd actually engage in the stuff before I blow that much. (and it wouldn't be fair to other dn to get so much of a bigger gift for his brother).


If I bought less stuff, what should it be?


I found this bundle on Amazon, and it suggests what looks like a good starter book to go with it, which together run a bit over $40, which is doable - would that work to get him started?


Other suggestions??


Also... If I get him the Uno board, will he see this as "building a computer" or "programming" one? There are Arduino boards one can buy and assemble that are referred to on their website, but it's hard to navigate and I can't seem to figure out which exact product they're referring to, much less where to buy it. And would that be something a 13-yo boy (who is actually historically not that much of a techno-geek, he's always been more obsessed with airplanes) could do?

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Arduino boards are microcontrollers that you use to control other things (like a robot, a channel changer, a teddy bear that responds to sound or has eyes that blink, stuff like that). You need to connect the Arduino board to a computer in order to program it.


The Raspberry Pi is probably what you'd want, it's an actual Unix-based micro-computer that you can build around. The Pi itself is only ~$40, but they're almost impossible to find "bare" — the few places that have them in stock usually bundle them with various accessories. The only place I know of off-hand that even has a Pi kit in stock right now is Adafruit, and that's $105. (And he'll still need to add a screen, keyboard, etc.) Here's a deal — if you spend $350, Adafruit will throw in a bare Pi for free! :tongue_smilie:


Honestly, for $40, I don't think you're likely to find anything for "building a computer." If you still want something "techy," have a look at MakerShed and AdaFruit and see if they have any kits in your price range that still do something cool. Have you asked your brother if he thinks your nephew would like Arduino? Is your brother techy at all (would he be able to help your nephew)? You can get self-contained Arduino kits that include everything you need for a specific, small-scale project — but I'd want to make sure that was something he was interested in first. If not, there's always ThinkGeek for last-minute cool stuff!



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Thanks, Jackie.


Finally got around to getting dh to look at all this (who is an electrical engineer, but has never heard of Arduino or RaspPi so I couldn't get an opinion out of him till he had time to look), and he pretty much agrees with you that my nephew has to figure out what he means by "building a computer" before we buy him stuff. My brother is not techie at all.


So, for now, we've decided to get hiim something else (probably Legos, the perennial hit) and tell him he can come over and assemble/dissasemble computers and parts of computers in our basement with dh whenever he wants.

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