Cheap ways to get started with Arduino ¢ ¢ ¢

Starting Arduino doesn’t have to cost a lot at all, this post aims to cover the cheap ways to get started with Arduino, which are especially useful for when you are trying out a project and want to be sure it will work. You can always upgrade and swap out the parts later for their more robust / better quality matches later. Although, I have had good experiences and the parts I’ve been ordering have worked as intended.

The list in brief

The first ones I’m mentioning are good for any location, I’m based in the UK and it’s typically no postage charges. Delivery is usually from China and mostly when you place an order, it goes straight to the suppliers so you typically get each order in a separate package from a different location.

[Note: these are not “Arduino” branded boards, they are clones of a variety of different brands. Typically the community asks that if you purchase out of the official channels then you offer a small donation to Arduino to help continue research and development of the platform.]


DX

Cammo button
Camouflage button is one of the many unique items on offer at DX.com

DX.com Where you can get an Uno R3 for $10.99 (with USB cable for programming) as well as unusual components such as this camouflage button switch for a few dollars / pounds.

I usually spend a good amount of time on the site looking around at the prices and components as there are some really inexpensive items that might be a good way to experiment with components.


[my favourite] ALI EXPRESS

Aliexpress.com is probably the cheapest I’ve come across so far. They have an Uno with USB cable for $5.50 (£3.62) and priced at £1.81 with no cable.

That is a super cheap way to get started with Arduino if you purchase one of these. The order may take 15-29 days typically, but I’ve mostly been very lucky with this and have dispatch notices within the day and around a week or so wait. I tend to go here first if I’m planning a project to scope out cheaper components to make the devices work before implementing it into a full working project. Worth a look here as well for unique items.


TINDIE

christmas starTindie is a different type of online shop, it is mostly electronics or circuits that people have made, that are put online from makers – so basically, if you make a board for example or similar (some people make little kits so you solder them at home etc) so is a great alternative way to source things that may be unusual or hard to find or out of stock. Mostly things are very reasonably priced and you are supporting a maker which is good too. Do be aware of shipping costs as some of the stuff comes from all over the world and it may be a case that the shipping makes it a bit too expensive as an item.

Some fun things that you can make at home from a kit are of course Christmas Decorations!


Extra: A UK specific place where I get those little odd bits and pieces you need such as wires and resistors for example, I normally head to Bitsbox which has a good selection and is usually very quick with delivery. The single core wire bundle for example is one I order a fair amount of as it’s great for breadboard work.


So those are mostly where I go if I need to save the pennies. They offer a cheap way to be able to get some components so you can have a play around and experiment so as long as you don’t mind waiting for slightly longer delivery times.

Have you found any hidden gem places that sell components at cheaper prices? Any that also have good delivery times? I’d love to know where everyone else is going for components, please feel free to leave a comment!