is king of the hardware hacking movement, and for good reason. There's a huge community right now, thousands of people using the Arduino to do thousands of things. Any hardware peripheral you want to talk to, someone has probably figured out how to connect it to an Arduino. So there are plenty examples on the web, which is great for burgeoning harware hobbyists to dive into.
However, the Arduino isn't the only har dware prototyping platform out there. Maybe you've even heard of the Propeller
, the PicAXE
and the Netduino
, but believe it or not there are even more great (and sometimes really cheap!) MCU development boards to try. If you're not married to the Arduino, why not try one of these alternatives?
is another AVR-based platform, very similar to the Arduino. It even has a similar development environment and language (read: you don't need to write and compile C.) However, the Teensy uses a more powerful chip, with more memory and it has real
USB support! All for only $16, or $24 for the more powerful Teensy++. Oh yeah, and it lives up to its name. This thing is small!
is actually an Arduino clone. It uses surface-mount components, and looks similar to the new Arduino Pro, but it's switchable between 3.3V and 5V. The Seeeduino Stalker
is similar, but it also has built-in XBee module headers, a coin battery slot, and
an SD card slot. That's a lot of extra features! Of course, you have to buy the XBee module separately :| Finally, the Seeeduino Film
is an Arduino on a flexible ribbon circuit and includes a LiPo charger.
The STM32 Discovery
board from ST-Micro is based on an ARM M3 chip. It's also $12! Yup. A lot cheaper than an Arduino, and a lot more MIPS, Flash and RAM than the AVR chip in your 'duino. This is even capable of running an RTOS if you're trying to do a lot of things at once.
Whlie the Econotag
might not technically be in the same 'class' as the Arduino and its cousins, I think it's worth noting as a higher-end prototyping platform for a minimal increase in cost. Econotag is based on a Freescale ARM7 processor and contains an integrated 802.15.4 radio. Although they're a little pricey, buy two or more and the built-in radio means you can quickly use it for projects that involve radio remote control. It's got a completely open development toolchain which can be found here
and the hardware design is open source too.
So, while these boards are significantly different, each one has some advantages that make it a valuable alternative. So next time you start up another hardware hacking project, think about these before you reach for that 'duino.