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In place of Arduino, Raspberry Pi: Seven board options

29 Sep 2014  | Suzanne Deffree

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Editor's Note: Freescale's Steve Nelson lists seven DIY board alternatives including an Arduino-software-compatible board that weighs in at about 3g, and a Freescale-supported board targeted specifically at wearable design. He also offers advise for how to choose a board.

Arduino and Raspberry Pi are great, well-utilised DIY boards for hacking just about anything you want to design. But if you're looking for an alternate hacker board, here are seven that Steve Nelson, Freescale's director of ecosystem and marketing programmes, presented at this week's Designers of Things (DoT) conference.

With some starting below the $20 mark, these Freescale-enabled, alternative hacker boards are community-supported and allow the transition to low-cost commercial volume manufacturing while still being compatible and easy-to-use, according to Nelson.

Overall, Nelson advises keeping 5 "S" thoughts in mind when choosing a board: Simplicity, as in ease of installation and operation; Staying power, meaning will it hold its value over time with consumers; Stability, questioning if a board needs regular rebooting or updating; Security as a factor in design; and Standards for compatibility regardless of the manufacture.

Teensy 3.1

Teensy 3.1

This Arduino-software-compatible board measures 35.56mm by 17.78mm and weighs in at about 3g. Teensy uses MK20DX256 32bit ARM Cortex M4 72MHz, has 256K Flash memory and 64K RAM memory starting at less than $20.

Projects made with Teensy include a capacitive slide sensor and the below 12800 LED screen showing graphics synchronised to music.

Wall of Light (160px by 80px) LED video wall. Source: Hunter Luisi



Using ARM Cortex-M0+ Core and with a full tool suite (MBED, MQX RTOS), Freedom offers up to 256KB of Flash, USB (host/device), a capacitive touch sensor, LCD Controller, a 3-axis accelerometer, a magnetometer, a 4-digit 4×8 segment LCD and a visible light sensor for about $15.

Here's a beginners project for Freedom with Codewarrior 10.3.

Projects from scratch for the Freedom board with Codewarrior 10.3. Source: Eli Hughes

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