Embedded System - Arduino
Before You Buy
In this page, I will talk several points you would consider before you buy any hardware. Most of what I have mentioned here is based on my personal experience when I first tried and have no knowledge and experience of Arduino boards.
What Kind of board I have to buy ?
If you type in the word 'Arduino' at Google image search, you will see a lot of different types of Arduino boards. Also, if you search Arduino from YouTube, you will watch various tutorials based many different types of Arduino boards.
Question is what kind of board I should buy. If you have any specific project and requirement in mind, the answer would be simple.. just to buy the board that meets all of your requirement. However, the answer will be complicated in case 'I don't have any specific requirement.. my purpose is just to try anything and get familiar with the board and I don't have any previous experience with the board before'.
In this case, my personal strategy used to be 'buy whatever is the simplest and cheapest'.
Based on this strategy, I bought a kind of Arduino Uno R3 clone (which means it is not Arduino original which is supplied by Arduino LCC) and I spent almost one full day trying to make it work and at last I returned it and bought the original Arduino Uno and got it working in 1 min. The only reason why I purchased a clone at the beginning was that it was cheap.. but it took away my full day. I am not saying you should never try with the clone... in engineering any try would be worth trying even if it is not working as you expected. You would learn something from the try anyway. In addition, you would not have the problem that I have and get it working at first trial.
I will explain why I had such a problem and gave up trying.
Make it sure that you will get the device driver for the Hardware
Regardless of whether you use Arduino Original or Arduino clone, you should see the hardware driver is properly installed and see Communication Device is shown up as follows when you plug in the hardware into your PC. In case of Arudio Original, when the USB driver that automatically installed when you install Arduino IDE would work automatically when you connect the board to USB port on your PC. (I installed Arduino IDE v1.6.0). However, many of Arduino Clone would not be compatible with the device driver provided by Arduino IDE. In this case, you need to get the hardware driver for the specific clone that you have purchased. If your clone comes with the device driver, it is good. However, most of clone does not come with any driver and you may be told that you can download it from internet. I tried finding the driver for the clone that I purchased, but there were not so many driver except those provided by Arduino LCC. I managed to find a couple of the driver, but none of them worked.
Consider USB Port Type
This is not a big technical issue.. but something to keep in mind. I was very happy with the price for Arduino Uno. Even with the Original, it was OK. I paid and took it home and try to plug into my PC and then I found the Original uses different USB type. It uses USB-B type as shown below. I went to a shop to buy the USB cable for this (USB A to B conversion cable) and was shocked to see the price tag on the cable. I paid around 15 dollars which is almost half cost of the Arduino Uno board itself.