Thom Nichols

Thom

Technology is evolution outside the gene pool

Four Arduino Alternatives You Should Try

The Arduino 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?

Teensy

The Teensy 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!

Seeeduino Series

The Seeeduino 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.

STM32 Discovery

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.

Econotag

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.

In Conclusion...

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.

(Comments are closed)

3 Comments

  1. Re: Four Arduino Alternatives You Should Try June 13, 2012 quadrant2005

    I like to use the TDSDB14550 board which houses a PIC18F4550 i find it great for the projects that ive done so far... Ive not yet used a Arduino but i do come from a C back ground on the pc

  2. avatar Re: Re: Four Arduino Alternatives You Should Try Feb. 8, 2013 Rodrigo

    how do you use the TDSB14500 in ccs c i cant get my program working i use the bootloader, i try to redirect the reset and interrupt addesses. 

  3. avatar Re: Four Arduino Alternatives You Should Try Aug. 16, 2012 MicroMan

    The SolderCore is a new alternative the Arduino. Same shape, but includes, a Cortex M3 processor, Ethernet, a uSD card holder and USB. Can be programmed using CoreBASIC for rapid development or in standard C or ARM assembly. More info available at the website. http://www.soldercore.com