- Arduino boards are open-source circuit boards that provide a platform for creating interactive electronic projects, with over 15 types available for specific functions.
- Entry-level Arduino boards like the Uno (R3), Nano, and Micro are ideal for beginners, offering affordability and ease of learning.
- Enhanced feature boards, such as Arduino Due and LilyPad Arduino Board, are designed for more advanced projects like robotics and wearable e-textiles.
Arduino board is the most popular open-source platform widely used by makers, hobbyists, and professionals for creating electronic projects. Initially launched in 2005, the board has gone through many iterations over the years.
Arduino boards are available in various models, which vary in features, sizes, and capabilities. These boards are incredibly versatile and cost-effective platforms for creating multiple electronic projects. With the right board, you can easily create everything from simple LED displays to complex robotic systems.
With so many types of Arduino boards on the market, however, knowing which suits your project takes time and effort. In this article, we’ll look at some of the most popular types of Arduino boards and discuss their features and benefits so you can make an informed decision when choosing your next electronics project board.
Let’s get started!
What are Arduino Boards?
Arduino boards are open-source circuit boards that provide makers, hobbyists, and professionals with a platform to create interactive electronic projects. The board comprises a programmable microcontroller that can control various connected components, such as sensors, motors, LEDs, displays, and more.
Types Of Arduino Boards
About 15 types of Arduino boards are available in the market, each designed for specific functions.
- Arduino Uno (R3)
- Arduino Nano
- RedBoard Arduino Board
- Arduino Micro
- Arduino Bluetooth
- Arduino Pro Mic
- Arduino Due
- LilyPad Arduino Board
- Arduino Mega (R3) Board
- Arduino Leonardo Board
- Arduino Robot
- Arduino Diecimila
- Arduino Esplora
- Arduino Zero
- Arduino Ethernet
Now, let’s explore each in more detail.
Entry-Level Arduino Boards
Entry-level Arduino boards like the Uno (R3), Nano, and Micro are ideal for beginners who want to explore the world of electronics. This category features boards with limited I/O ports or slow clock speeds. Moreover, these boards run on 8-bit microcontrollers.
These boards are affordable, easy to learn and make, and have many features, including digital pins, analog pins, USB ports, power jacks, reset buttons, etc. Furthermore, they have the added advantage of compatibility with the numerous shield boards and models on the market. You can use such base-level boards for various functions, such as controlling LEDs, motors, and other components.
Arduino Uno (R3)
The Arduino Uno (R3) is the most popular version of the board used by makers, hobbyists, and professionals. Its popularity has grown exponentially due to its affordability, ease of learning, and operation. For instance, it comes in numerous premade models, which makes it easy for developers to create new prototypes and projects.
The Arduino Uno R3 runs on an ATMega328p microcontroller and consists of 14 Digital I/O, of which six pins are Pulse Width Modulation outputs (PWM). It also has a reset button, six analog inputs, a USB connection, an ICSP (In-Circuit Serial Programming header), and a power jack. Moreover, it can hold up the microcontroller by simply attaching it to a PC using a USB cable and getting started using an AC-to-DC battery or adapter.
Arduino Uno remains the most helpful board for beginners. And while there are various types of Arduino UNO boards in the global market, most are copies or clones of the original version. That means it is the standard form upon which other boards are modeled and can thus serve more complex projects.
Arduino Nano is a small, breadboard-friendly board based on the ATmega328P or ATmega628 microcontroller. Aside from being small in size, the Arduino Nano is also flexible, reliable, and sustainable. It has similar functionality and connection to the Arduino UNO board but it is smaller. Its main difference from the UNO is the absence of a DC power jack and its use of a USB-TTL converter chip.
Additionally, it opts for a Mini USB port instead of a USB B port. The Arduino Nano also uses an FT232 instead of an ATMega16U2. The Arduino Nano board is as crucial for building projects as Arduino IDE and mini USB. It comprises eight analog pins, 14 digital I/O pin sets, six power pins, and 2 RST pins. Due to its smaller size and affordable price, the Arduino Nano has become as popular as the UNO among developers.
Arduino Micro is a small-sized microcontroller board based on the ATmega32U4. Its main features include 20 sets of I/O pins, with 7 PWM and 12 analog inputs, making it suitable for rapid prototyping. It also has a small inbuilt USB port connection, an RST button, an ICSP header, and a 16MHz crystal oscillator.
The Arduino Micro is a small form shrunk version of the elaborate Leonardo board. That means it functions similarly, with the only difference being the absence of a DC input jack. The Arduino Micro can also be a Virtual COM port device or HID.
Arduino Mega (R3) Board
The Arduino Mega (R3) board is a big brother to the UNO. The board has many digital I/O pins, making it ideal for projects requiring numerous peripheral needs. The new version incorporates the ATmega2560 microcontroller, the most powerful one in any Arduino board.
The new version has 54 digital I/O pins, where 16 are analog inputs, 15 are PWM outputs, and 4 are UARTs. The Arduino Mega (R3) has more SRAM and flash storage than most basic Arduino boards. It also has all the requirements to hold up the microcontroller. The Arduino Mega (R3) is most popular with the 3D printer, open-source PLC, and CNC communities.
Arduino Leonardo Board
The Leonardo Board was the first developed Arduino board. The board utilizes one microcontroller and USB, making it exceptionally simple and affordable. Due to its USB utilization, the board can handle USB directly, which allows it to use a computer keyboard, mouse, etc.
Enhanced Features Arduino Boards
Enhanced feature boards are models with more advanced features than bare boards. They usually come with powerful microcontrollers and a large set of I/O ports. These boards suit developers who want to work on more significant projects like robotics and automation or require higher clock speeds.
The Arduino Due is the first model of Arduino board that runs on a 32-bit microcontroller. Based on the ARM Cortex-M3 microcontroller, Arduino Due is a powerful board capable of handling complex and industrial-level projects. It includes 54 digital I/O pins, 12 analog inputs, 12 PWM o/p pins, 4 UARTs (hardware serial ports), and an 84 MHz clock speed.
It also has a USB OTG, a power jack, two DAC, two TWI, an SPI header, a JTAG header, and two erase and reset buttons. The board’s input and out pins only support 3.3V and may incur damage if overloaded. Furthermore, the board supports all Arduino shields at 3.3V. You can power it by connecting it to a computer using a USB cable or a DC or AC adapter.
LilyPad Arduino Board
The LilyPad Arduino Board is a microcontroller board designed for wearable e-textiles. Designed by “Leah and SparkFun” and expanded by Leah “Buechley,” each board comes with imaginatively designed connecting pads.
They also have smooth backs, which allow you to sew them into clothing using simple conductive threads. Its main components comprise power, I/O, and sensor boards explicitly built for textiles. Other features include four input pins, FTDI Connector, nine output pins, reset buttons, a battery connector, and a negative and a positive lead.
Arduino Bluetooth Board
The Arduino Bluetooth Board is a ready-to-use microcontroller board with the latest technology. It predominantly depends on microcontrollers such as ATmega168PA. It’s called an Arduino BT because it allows programming through Bluetooth to function as a wireless connection.
The board includes components such as analog pins-6, digital pins-16, crystal oscillator-16MHz, screw terminals, reset buttons, and ICSP header. Screw terminals in the Arduino Bluetooth Board predominantly serve as power resources.
The Arduino Diecimila is one of the most popular boards from the Arduino series. It’s based on an ATmega168 microcontroller and uses a crystal oscillator for its clock speed of 16MHz. The components in the Arduino Diecimila include digital I/O pins -14, which comprise 6-PWM output pins, six analog inputs, an ICSP header, a USB connection, a power jack, and a reset button.
The board allows you to connect it to a computer using a USB cable and activate it using an AC/DC adapter and a battery. There have been over 10K Arduino boards designed, as the name suggests (Diecimila is Italian for 10,000).
RedBoard Arduino Board
The RedBoard Arduino Board is one of the few boards that will work on your Windows 8 without requiring security settings modification. Furthermore, it allows programming using a Mini-B USB cable through the Arduino IDE. It uses the ATmega328 microcontroller, a more powerful version than the ATmega168 used in Diecimila.
The board has a flat back and is more constant because of the FTDI and USB utilized in its creation. Creating a RedBoard Arduino board is simple and easy to employ during a project. All you need to do is plug in the panel and select Arduino UNO from the menu option to upload the program. Additionally, you can control this board using a USB cable through the barrel jack.
The Arduino Robot is the first Arduino board on wheels, with two panels and a processor for each. These include the control board, which reads the operating sensors, and the motor board controls its motors. Each board is a complete Arduino board, allowing for Arduino IDE programming.
The Arduino Robot is a microcontroller board dependent on the ATmega32u4. Its pins are mapped onto onboard sensors and actuators, and its programming is similar to the Arduino Leonardo board. It generally includes a speaker, five buttons, a color screen, two motors, an SD card reader, a digital compass, two potentiometers, and 5-floor sensors.
Most consider it a small computer and use it extensively in robotics. Furthermore, you can use the robot to control actuators and sensors.
The Arduino Esplora is a microcontroller board with several inputs and outputs. Its inputs include four buttons, light sensors, an accelerometer, a microphone, a slider, a joystick, a temperature stick, and more. On the other hand, its outputs include three color LEDs and a buzzer.
The Arduino Esplora has an appearance similar to that of a video game controller. Its programming uses software such as IDE, which receives input data and controls output devices like mouse and keyboard. The Arduino Esplora significantly differs from other Arduino boards because its inputs and outputs connect to the board.
This initial connection makes the further connection of sensors and actuators significantly easy. Due to this feature programming, the Arduino Esplora also differs from other Arduino boards. The Arduino Esplora board also has a library, which makes reading and writing data from actuators and sensors much more effortless.
Arduino Pro Mic
The Arduino Pro Mic is similar to the Arduino Mini board in various ways except for its ATmega32U4 Microcontroller. This board includes 12 digital I/O pins, 5 PWM pins, a 10-bit ADC serial, and connections of Tx and Rx.
The Arduino Ethernet board is perfect for Internet of Things (IoT) applications. It is a microcontroller board that depends on ATmega328 and includes five analog pins, 14 digital I/O pins, and an RST button. It also has an RJ45 connection, a power jack, a crystal oscillator, an ICSP header, etc. Unlike other boards, the Arduino Ethernet board allows connection to the internet through an Ethernet shield.
The Arduino Zero board is a powerful 32-bit board perfect for projects that require even more accurate control. It is the ideal platform for handling innovative projects such as intelligent IoT devices, wearable technology, high-tech automation, crazy robotics, and more. The board expands by permitting various project opportunities, providing improved performance, and performing like a great educational tool.
This board is Atmel SAMD21 microcontroller driven and includes 14 digital I/O pins, six analog input pins, and a power jack. It also has an HREF button, a USB connector, UART port pins, a power header, and an ICSP (In-Circuit Serial Programming) header.
Arduino boards come in different models for various applications. Selecting the right board depends on the project’s specifications and complexity. The Arduino Uno is the official basic board, while others like the Arduino Zero and Mega are ideal for more complex tasks.
The image featured at the top of this post is ©AlesiaKan/Shutterstock.com.