Involvement:Expert (understands the inner workings) - Ownership:more than 1 month
Has parts for building a breadboard Arduino, and comes in a neat crush-resistant plastic box (survived shipping). After I burned a bootloader into the ATmega328P-PU microcontroller, and replaced a bad 16 MHz crystal that came with the kit, I was able to build a working breadboard Arduino (http://arduino.cc/en/Main/Standalone). I then learned how critical the reset timing can be when uploading sketches, unless you use an automatic RTS-capacitor-reset circuit (see my comments in the "Other Thoughts" section).
No manual, no jumpers, and my kit came with a bad 16 MHz crystal. The ATmega328P-PU comes unprogrammed, so I got to learn how to use ArduinoISP to burn a bootloader into it (http://arduino.cc/en/Tutorial/ArduinoISP). This kit is not for beginners without help.
One thing I learned is that the Arduino "optiboot" bootloader only waits about one second after reset for an upload of a sketch to begin. However, on my laptop at least, starting an upload of the "Blink" sketch takes about four seconds of compiling before the actual upload begins, making the timing of a manual reset very difficult (bad timing results in a "not in sync: resp=0x00" error). The solution is to connect the "RTS" signal from the upload cable (FTDI Basic, or the like) through a 0.1 uFd capacitor to pin 1 (Reset) of the ATmega328P-PU chip.
I learned a lot. However, as stated above, this kit is not for beginners without help; it may be useful in a classroom. This kit could be useful for prototyping a standalone Arduino-based controller design. However, this kit is not the cheapest way to own an Arduino, since prebuilt Arduinos (SKU 150108, for example) cost less than this kit plus an FTDI Basic upload module.
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