Choosing a Microcontroller: Which Arduino Should You Buy?

Starting most electrical engineering projects usually requires the services of certain tools and equipment imbebed with the ability to bring one’s ideas to life. And one of the critical tools you will end up working with for extended periods are microcontrollers, for they serve as the engine or computer that makes your electrical projects tick.

So how does one go about choosing the perfect microcontroller for a project? By taking these four important factors into consideration;

  1. Readiness for Instant Use
  2. Ease of Use
  3. Available Support
  4. Cost

Therefore, when saddled with choosing a board, analysing your options using these criteria as a yardstick will help you make better decisions. And here, we will elaborate more on the listed criteria in other to give you more details on how microcontrollers are graded.

Readiness for Use: when working on smaller projects—a traffic light, LCD clock etc.—what you will require is a microcontroller that works straight from the box. This means something you can deploy without having to adjust fuse settings, burners etc. and something you can also reconfigure when you require more specific control over your ideas. Arduino controllers provide its users with such versatility as they are always pre-configured for immediate use and can also be dug into to bring out the control you require.

Ease of Use: imagine not having any knowledge of programming but would like to use a microcontroller in your projects. How would you tackle this; start learning the basics of programming or purchase a microcontroller that helps you accomplish pre-set tasks regardless of your programming abilities? For instant application and the need to see how your project functions, I believe you will choose the latter option. Arduino microcontrollers are equipped with a library of codes that carry out pre-determined functions. This means that you can easily select the code sample you want to control your devices however you choose.

Available Support: it takes a village or community to raise a kid and when working with microcontrollers on engineering projects, sometimes you will require all the help you can get to pull it off. Therefore, working with a microcontroller that has massive online and offline support is recommended and this is when Arduino’s products come into play. As the most popular microcontroller producer out there, there are thousands of professionals and guides on how to go about using its products online. You can also take things a step further by registering in an Arduino-based forum/online community in order to receive regular updates.

Cost: the type of project you are currently working on, usually determines the amount you will be willing to spend on purchasing tools for it. This means for small to medium-sized projects that you intend to use domestically, affordable or cheap items should do. Arduino offers multiple offerings such as the Mega or Uno that come with the other 3 specified criteria but in terms of cost, the Arduino Uno takes the lead.

This makes the Arduino Uno the preferred microcontroller for small engineering projects.

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