Have you just bought a starter kit or are hesitant to buy it because you’re not quite sure what’s in it? You’re not alone. Faced with a box full of electronic components, it is easy to break. Here’s a guide to exactly what you’ll find in your kit.

We use the SunFounder UNO starter kit, available at $49.99, which we recommend for its fantastic value for money. If you have a different starter kit, chances are you’ll find some (but not all) of the same components, so it’s still a good read. You can also check our Beginner Electronics Skills for Beginners article.

What is included in the Arduino starter kit?

Arduino Uno


The most important part of the kit is the Arduino myself. Uno is one of the most basic models, but for a beginner it is completely serviceable and there is almost nothing that can be done with it. Whether you’re looking for larger or more powerful models, the Arduino Mega fits the bill; while for projects that require the use of very small spaces, the Mini or Pro Micro should be more than adequate.

The model in the Sunfounder kit is actually informal a clone of Uno. Because the Arduino design is open source, it is legal for other companies to reproduce or modify it as long as they don’t label it as an official «Arduino» board.

mock up

arduino breadboard

A breadboard is a tool used to experiment with circuits without the need for soldering wires. Basically, it’s a timing test tool with which you can quickly make and break electrical connections. The breadboard consists of a sheet of plastic with holes at the top and metal rails connected at the bottom: components and connecting wires are inserted into these holes. Each of these rows of 5 holes in the middle is connected. Outside, the entire column is connected: they are usually used as common power lines.


Arduino led

The Sunfounder kit comes with several LEDs in different colors (red, yellow, green and white) as well as one RGB LED. The RGB LED has 4 pins (one for each color and one common cathode — or ground) so you can experiment with mixing colors or create random color displays. Very cool to play after you dive into the code. In fact, it was very satisfying for a beginner to see instant results when I edited my first bits of the Arduino code.

One important thing to note is the pins on the LED. Generally, the positive is longer than the negative, but if you have the same size, look for the flat side based on the actual LED. The foot on the flat side is ground or negative.

USB cable

Arduino USB cable

The USB cable connects to your Arduino as well as your PC or a separate power supply. In addition to supplying power to the device, the cable transfers data—in the form of programs or sketches—from the PC to the Arduino. Once loaded, the Arduino retains information even if it is powered off. To erase a program, you simply download a new one.

Although the Arduino will store your program indefinitely, even without power, it is important to note that the board itself does not have a power source, so it will not work unless it is connected to some kind of power source. In addition to being powered by a USB port or wall charger, a 9V or 12V DC input can be used.

40 pin connector


This is a series of 40 pins that can be broken or cut to any size. Components often come with pins, but if you’ve bought something that only has holes, then a solder pin can be soldered on to make it easier to work with on a breadboard.

Ceramic Capacitor (10nF and 100nF)

Arduino-ceramic capacitors

Capacitors store and discharge energy: they are commonly used for voltage regulation or signal smoothing. A specific example of this is «cancelling» a button click. Although pushing a button may seem like a simple quick action to you, on an electrical level it can generate a series of very fast high and low electrical noise. Debouncing is a smoothing process, so pressing one button is easy.

H bridge (L239D)


The H-bridge is an integrated circuit that allows voltage to be applied in either direction. They are usually used in conjunction with a DC motor to allow it to rotate both forward and reverse. L239D is actually double bridge H so you can control two motors, which is useful when building simple robots.


arduino accelerometer

Accelerometers are designed to measure acceleration and tilt along one to three linear axes (x, y, z). Although it does many things, it is commonly used to measure distance, lateral movement, and sudden stops and starts of all types of devices. For example, if you have a device that only moves in one direction, such as a robot following a line, then the accelerometer allows you to get a reading of the distance traveled, taking into account acceleration and time to measure the distance traveled by the element.

DC motor


A DC motor is a component containing a metal rod that rotates when connected to a power source. The rotating rod can then perform simple actions such as spinning a fan or starting a pulley system that creates movement (like in an RC car).


Arduino optocoupler

An optocoupler allows a signal to be passed between two parts of a circuit while keeping them electrically isolated. Internally, it’s just an LED with a photoresistor. Conceptually, they are very similar to relays, but differ in a number of ways:

  1. They are smaller and lighter than relays.
  2. It is a solid state, which means there are no moving parts and therefore offers fewer opportunities for failure.
  3. Less current is required to activate than a relay; but, conversely, only small amounts of current can be switched.

Resistors (220, 1k, 10k, 1M, 5.1m Ohm)

Arduino resistors

Resistors are components that limit the flow of current to other components. When you connect a wire to the Arduino’s 5V power jack, but the component can only handle 3.5V, you need to find a way to limit the amount of power (current) it receives to avoid damage.

James has written an article that covers the main components in a starter kit in a starter kit and its pipe analogy is right on the notch.

» If you like to think of a circuit as a network of water pipes running in one direction, a resistor would be like connecting a smaller pipe to the end of a larger one. The main reason for this is to protect other components from damage.”

The resistors in our set have different values ​​(220, 1 kOhm, 10 kOhm, 1 m, 5.1 m Ohm). This confused me at first as I couldn’t decipher the meaning of each capacitor. It is important to remember that the colored bars contain all the information needed to determine the value of each capacitor. The first two represent a numeric value, and the next determines the number of zeros you’ll add to the end. The fourth colored band is known as the tolerance band, and it shows the resistor’s dispersion, which you probably don’t need to worry about at this point. This schedule has been very helpful.


With this handy tool, you can determine what the resistor value is for a particular LED, but you need to know the operating voltage and current of the LED.

slide switch

Arduino switch

I won’t spend too much time on switches as most of us already know the basics of what they do. Basically, it turns off or allows current to pass through, which effectively acts as an on/off lever for your projects.

However, it is worth understanding the different types of slide switches, such as SPDT (which is included) and DPDT . The first two letters — SP and DP — stand for «single-pole» and «double-pole», meaning the number of things they can switch at one time. A single pole switch (as pictured) has one set of contacts, so it can turn one thing on or off. A double pole switch has two separate sets of contacts that are simultaneously controlled by the same switching action.

The second set of letters — ST or DT — means «one throw» or «double throw». Single switches are those that are simply open or closed. A double throw (e.g. in a set) has one common contact and switches between making contact with the other two contacts. The dual switch can be used to simply turn something on or off, but can also

7 segment display


The 7-segment display is an integrated package of LEDs that perform a digital readout function for projects that require number display. While it can’t process images or the like, the display is actually perfect for things like electric cubes, an alarm clock, or even a countdown timer (if you have more than one).

Rotary encoder


A rotary encoder is a rotation measuring device that is used to count revolutions or to create wheel controls such as knobs that can rotate indefinitely. They are a little more difficult to connect than a potentiometer, and they output the number of «steps» of rotation that have taken place.

To give you an idea of ​​how it’s used, my first rotary encoder project involved turning it to lighten or darken an RGB LED.


Arduino Potentiometer

Although the potentiometer is visually similar to a rotary encoder, it has a fixed range of motion and produces an easy to read analog output to show exactly where it has been turned. The main difference is that it has a fixed start and end point.

shift register


A shift register is a kind of short-term memory chip that receives data sequentially and then «shifts» them all once. In practice, this means that you can free up the I/O pins on the Arduino. Importantly, shift registers can also be connected in series, allowing you to output much more output than would otherwise be possible.

They’re a bit trickier to program, but when you’re ready to go, you can follow our initial shift register project. .

LCD display


The LCD is equipped with a 16-character display that can display static or scrolling messages. You typically use this to output sensor readings. Keep in mind that displays use a lot of pins, so you won’t be left with much to play with.

Dot matrix display

Arduino dot matrix display

8×8 dot matrix dot matrix display in plastic housing. Each of these LEDs can be programmed to display together or independently to create simple messages or images. Larger and smaller dot matrix displays are also available.

Transistors (PNP and NPN)

Arduino transistor

Transistors are the backbone of modern electronics. Both PNP (positive, negative, positive) and NPN (negative, positive, negative) transistors are controlled by electric current and act as digital switches — used in digital logic and signal amplification circuits. Each type of transistor has a base, collector and emitter.

Although they are almost identical, the difference is that they have completely opposite polarities. The PNP flows from the emitter into the connector. NPN flows from collector to emitter. If you need a simple mnemonic, remember this:

NPN: do not need to be specified in N

Push button

Arduino button

A button is a simple button that makes or breaks electrical contact when pressed. You can program this type of interrupt in the circuit for any number of different effects depending on the project, but may include things like: rolling dice (for display on LCD or dot matrix), sounding a piezo buzzer, or triggering/ stop LED light show.

You may also come across the terms «NO» or «NC» when working with switches and relays: they mean «normally open» (the connection is usually not established and must be activated in order to establish a connection) and «normally closed» (the connection is usually made this way). in order for current to flow — the switch must be pressed to break compound).



A diode allows electricity to flow in only one direction. This is typically used to protect components or circuits from a reverse current surge, such as from a motor that continues to spin after a power outage.

Men’s jumpers


The jumpers are for connection on the breadboard, as well as from the breadboard to the Arduino itself. The starter kit includes several colors, and while color doesn’t matter, it’s a great way to organize your projects.

A common question for beginners is how to make a project if you have jumpers that don’t match the colors of the chart you use to build it. The colors are just for organization purposes and they don’t really matter. However, you can accept the rule of using red for +ve power and black for ground, since that’s the universal standard (but again, it doesn’t affect functionality).

Piezo buzzer


A piezo buzzer is just a simple speaker that can deliver different tones. The speaker itself emits a solid tone when connected to power, but you can program them in code to change the length and frequency of the sounds emitted. James used it to create a simple Arduino alarm system. create a simple Arduino alarm system. create a simple alarm system .

Arduino box

So, if you’re new to the confusion like me, this should give you an idea of ​​what components are in your kit, and how we’ll be using them. Over the next weeks, we’ll be going deeper each week until we get a chance to tackle some projects using these components.

If you want to dive even deeper into Arduino after using the starter kit, check out our gift ideas for any Arduino fan.

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