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[Solved] Starting point - starter kit + Arduino or ESP32?  


YurkshireLad
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My teenager started learning basic electronics at school, and because I started reading about Arduino and other microcontrollers, I thought I'd like to give it a try. Programming C++ or Python won't be a problem for me, however, I've forgotten pretty much all the basic electronics I learned at university.

I think I'd like to experiment with sensors, movement, temperature, environment, light etc (and it would also be fun to play around with a camera, but that's a step down the road). I'd also like to experiment with transmitting data via WiFi, bluetooth or radio.

I've read articles and watched videos about the Arduino and ESP32 microcontrollers. Obviously, the Arduino would be the best one to start with, but I would need to get a WiFi module once I got to the point of needing it. However, I believe the ESP32 is dual core and includes WiFi support.

I was wondering what the best starting point would. I've been looking at the various starter kits, as I have no electrical components, nada. Should I start with a starter kit and buy an Arduino or should I get the ESP32 instead?

Thanks


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Melbul
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I started with the Uno and the Advanced starter kit.

that was last year and so far all good as I worked through the kits sensors etc.

 


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robotBuilder
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@yurkshirelad

Should I start with a starter kit and buy an Arduino or should I get the ESP32 instead?

I would buy both.  I have yet to get an ESP32 to play with.

https://dronebotworkshop.com/esp32-intro/

 

 


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sj_h1
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Most of the better starter sets come with Arduino Uno and that's what I would start with. The ESP32 is an easy transition after that. 


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YurkshireLad
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I'll look at a starter kit and perhaps I'll wait a bit on the ESP32.

Quick question about the ESP32. This one says you don't need to switch between download and run mode? Is that typical on newer boards?

https://www.amazon.ca/ESP32-Development-Wireless-Bluetooth-Module/dp/B07SW395ZQ/ref=mp_s_a_1_8?dchild=1&keywords=esp32+kit&qid=1611093691&sprefix=esp32&sr=8-8


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Centari
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I agree with @sj_h1 and @Melbul on the kit recommendations. I have not worked with the esp32, but I have worked with the esp8266. (cheaper and slower but does WiFi too.) As such I can't really advise on the esp32 yet.

If you're going to get your son in on this as well, I would definitely get one of the more complete kits as a starting point, but also add a second Arduino so that you each have one to work with. (Perhaps a third in case one gets fried? 🤔  They are rather inexpensive. )  And add 1 or 3 breadboards.  That real estate goes quick.

That should keep you both busy and learning while you figure out what you want to add for capability, and which direction you want to take your projects toward.


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YurkshireLad
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Posted by: @centari

I agree with @sj_h1 and @Melbul on the kit recommendations. I have not worked with the esp32, but I have worked with the esp8266. (cheaper and slower but does WiFi too.) As such I can't really advise on the esp32 yet.

If you're going to get your son in on this as well, I would definitely get one of the more complete kits as a starting point, but also add a second Arduino so that you each have one to work with. (Perhaps a third in case one gets fried? 🤔  They are rather inexpensive. )  And add 1 or 3 breadboards.  That real estate goes quick.

That should keep you both busy and learning while you figure out what you want to add for capability, and which direction you want to take your projects toward.

Thanks. I ordered the Elegoo starter kit last night.

My daughter recently started learning electronics in school and I don't think she likes it enough to try it out. We'll see if that changes.


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Centari
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Perhaps a small robot or drone will catch her attention, and you can build on that.  Good luck.


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YurkshireLad
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Bah, Amazon is telling me the starter kit won't be sent out for 2 weeks.


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YurkshireLad
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I now have the Elegoo starter kit but the LCD and relay won't fit into the breadboard. Not a big deal but a slight hassle.


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Centari
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@yurkshirelad, did the LCD come with the I2C module attached?  (just curious.)

If you're anything like me, you'll be expanding quickly as you learn and add devices / components to your kit.  The ready made dupont jumpers are nice, but often too short at times.  I got a couple sets and then bought some wire and a dupont connector kit with crimper tool. It's nice to be able to make what is needed when needed.  In my case, I have a few extended wires to connect the projects I'm working on, to the power supply I made a while back.  I just finished a project that needed a wiring harness too keep things neat. 

Anyway, it's less expensive in the long run, and quite useful.


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YurkshireLad
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I'm not sure I know what the I2C module is, but I'll check.

I'm trying to build a wishlist of the basics I might need to keep going, including some more sensors and an ESP32 for RTOS programming.


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YurkshireLad
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Any more suggestions for the basics I should pick up?


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Centari
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Sorry for the late reply, a bit under the weather.  If you're going to make some stand alone projects, you'll want some perfboard to build your first few circuits on or so. 

Power connectors are handy. https://www.amazon.com/Pigtail-Female-Connectors-Security-Adapter/dp/B07C7VSRBG/ref=pd_sbs_1?pd_rd_w=A6xk5&pf_rd_p=3ec6a47e-bf65-49f8-80f7-0d7c7c7ce2ca&pf_rd_r=FK6S97XRF3206ZN0QZJZ&pd_rd_r=b2c2dbc3-3439-4229-a4eb-48e3a54062e6&pd_rd_wg=incrh&pd_rd_i=B07C7VSRBG&psc=1

Some 78xx voltage regulators. The xx is replaced by the voltage you want. They're available in TO220 package which is very easy to work with.  Watch out for 79xx series, as they are for negative voltages. (don't ask how I found that out.....)

You'll want more resistors than what your kit came with.  Many sources for cheap assortment. 1/4 watt is most common used.  Carbon resistors are easier to read the color bands, but metal-oxide have tighter tolerances. Usually blue body rather than brown like the carbon.

2N2222a transistors make nice switching transistors and are very cheap for a bunch.  TO92 package.

MOSFETs make really nice switches. They're a bit more expensive but easy to source. Before jumping in on those, check out several videos on their various uses.  Also, you should also look for the term 'logic level' on the datasheet.  Those work with the small voltages most of us are working with. I'm using BS170 and IRFZ44N primarily. Both N channel.  (I have others, but they need to be driven by something other than just the Arduino output.

An assortment of capacitors, both electrolytic and ceramic initially. Mainly for filtering to start with.

Otherwise, keep an eye on what you're running low on from your kit as you make your projects.  Those are things you will need to increase in quantity as you start combining minor projects into more complex or useful projects.

 

Just my 2 cents worth at this point.  Don't think any of this is critical starting out, just nice to have as you expand your horizons.

Hopefully some others will chime in as well. 


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