Wondering what to get the tinkerer in your life for their birthday or the holiday season? Whether they are a budding young inventor or a lifelong hardware hacker, Arduino boards and accessories are perfect gifts.
So, we’re going to look at some Arduino-themed gift ideas. Whether the person you are buying for is a total beginner or a microcontroller expert, you’ll find something here to suit them.
There’s not much point reading our list of Arduino gift ideas if the person you’re buying for doesn’t own any Arduino hardware to begin with.
Arduino starter kits come in many forms. Some contain little more than a controller board and a few wires, resistors, and LEDs. Others cost a lot more money and include a greater number of parts, tutorials, project ideas, and more.
If your gift recipient is a total novice, you shouldn’t over complicate things. It’s better to buy a simple kit and add more parts to it as their confidence increases. We suggest the official Arduino Starter Kit as it comes with a 170-page tutorial.
You can find dozens of great Arduino books for all skill levels. But we recommend Simon Monk’s Programming Arduino book. Monk—who has a Ph.D. in software engineering—has written several programming titles covering topics such as Raspberry Pi and hacking electronics.
Programming Arduino is one of the bestselling Arduino books on Amazon. It’s ideal for both programmers and non-programmers as each chapter focuses on a new section of code to compile and upload. It does not cover circuit building or applications in any detail, though.
When you buy an Arduino board, it’s just that—a board. All the electronics are exposed to the elements. That obviously dramatically increases the risk of damage; split liquids, dust, and kids can all wreak havoc on your painstakingly created project.
It’s wise, therefore, to pick up a case to protect the circuitry. They don’t cost more than a few bucks and come in a variety of styles and designs. Just make sure you buy a case that matches the model of the Arduino that the recipient owns. We’ve included an Arduino Mega 2560 Case above, but you’ll need to check to find the right model for your giftee.
Rather than just aimlessly buying Arduino accessories as a gift, take a step back and consider what other hobbies and interests the gift recipient has.For example, if they are a keen gardener, you could consider buying the HUABAN Soil Hygrometer Humidity Detection Module.
It can monitor the soil moisture around plants, then hook up to an Arduino-powered automatic watering system. It has adjustable sensitivity and can be made to produce both analog and digital readings. The box includes five individual monitors and a 3 x 1.6cm PCB board. However, we don’t recommend this gift for someone who is a complete beginner.
In a similar vein, weather fanatics might enjoy the Ximimark Digital Barometric Pressure Sensor Board. Clearly, it can measure the atmospheric pressure in your location, but it has some other exciting uses for advanced Arduino owners. For example, you can use it to convert the pressure into altitude, thus providing height readings for Arduino-powered planes or rockets.
Or you could take it on a hiking trip to keep an eye on your elevation above sea level. The sensor board is low-powered; it only needs 0.3?A. As such, it can easily be used with battery-powered Arduino projects. It has an eight-pin chip that connects to a processor via I2C.
If you’re buying an Arduino gift for a child, there’s no point in buying fancy accessories or starter packs—it won’t enthuse them. Instead, try to think of gift ideas that they’ll want to get stuck into. The UCTRONICS Smart Bluetooth Robot Car Kit is one such idea.
It comes with all the parts you need to make the car a reality, including a complete set of modules, an UNO R3 board, an ultrasonic sensor, a motor drive board, a battery, and a charger. The car is controlled using the accompanying Android app. Unfortunately, iOS is not supported.
In practice, we’d only recommend buying this gift if one of the child’s parents is at least semi-competent with Arduinos and/or programming. They’ll probably need some assistance to get the project up and running.
Some men think of their garage or garden shed as their personal fiefdom. No one can enter without permission. Sound familiar? Then perhaps you should buy a Green Light Optical Fingerprint Reader for the Arduino addict in your life. The simple scanner can permit or deny entry to a room based on a fingerprint scan.
Up to 162 different fingerprints can be added to the flash memory. The prints are added using the accompanying Windows software or with an Arduino Sketch. During use, all fingerprints are hashed and sent to the microcontroller for processing. Again, this is not a beginner-level project.
For many people, robots are the coolest things in the world, and these people are clearly correct. The SunFounder Robotics Kit is a two-legged robot suitable for beginners. The Dancing Sloth stands on two legs and is easy to program using visual programming blocks.
Sold as a complete kit, including the Arduino board and a guide, it covers many fundamentals of robotics. As well as moving, the distance sensor in the kit adds another dimension of sensing and control. Better yet, the project is easy to scale up in complexity as the person’s skills improve.
Smart homes are gaining in popularity, with devices appearing in hardware stores and popular culture. One of the strengths of microcontrollers, such as the Arduino, is that they allow anyone to affordably create DIY smart home systems.
At its simplest, a home automation setup requires a relay to allow control over larger powered items (such as lights, wall switches, and appliances), and a way of accessing these things via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. For a few bucks, you can buy a SainSmart 4-Channel Relay Module. It can be accessed from a smartphone to control almost anything.
You don’t have to buy technical presents for Arduino lovers. After all, for non-users, it can be hard to know exactly what the person needs, wants, or already has.
A simple solution? Buy them an Arduino coffee mug. Easy!
The Best Arduino Gift Ideas
The 10 ideas in our Arduino gift guide should put you on the right track towards choosing a present for the geeky DIYer in your life.
If time has caught up with you, and you won’t be able to get these gifts to your recipient in time, then you may want to choose one of these last-minute digital gifts instead.