Cool Boards/Chips

Cool Boards and Chips to be Aware of

This page is intended to be a knowledge base for microcontrollers, development boards, and Systems on Chip (SoCs). Since ’embedded systems’ is a broad topic, both high level boards (such as those from the Rasperry Pi family) will be included along side with low-level, single chip microcontrollers. Device families will be roughly organized from high-level to low-level. If you would like to contribute to this list, contact the community coordinator.

Note: This page is a work in progress and will be continuously edited….

Raspberry Pi Family
Raspberry Pi Family Photo – Image Credit RasPi.TV

If running running Linux on a tiny board interests you, Raspberry Pi is a great place to start. On the down side, these won’t be as helpful if your goal is to learn low level embedded system programming.

Recommended for beginners:

Arduino Boards and Modules

Arduino boards are classic for beginners and hobbyists. There is enough documentation online to create a project from scratch with no prior background whatsoever in electrical engineering or coding. Arduinos can also be quite helpful for more experienced engineers/hobbyists who want to rapidly test out ideas.

Recommended for beginners: any entry level Arduino board, but the UNO is a popular place to start.

ESP8266 and ESP32

The ESP8266 and ESP32 families are a great place to start if you are interested in including WiFi or BLE in your project. The ESP8266 is strictly a WiFi chip, but the ESP32 supports WiFi and BLE while boasting a 2-core processor, RTC, and secondary ULP microcontroller. This is particularly useful for IOT applications.

The ESP32 also has some Arduino support, though I recommend using ESP-IDF since some of the Arduino features are glitchy.

Recommended for beginners:  ESP32 Dev Board

Recommended for non-beginners: ESP32-WROOM32

ATtiny/TinyAVR

As the name suggests, ATtiny microcontrollers are tiny 8-bit AVR microcontrollers. This is a good place to start learning the basics of embedded systems since there are relatively few features to keep track of.

ATMEGA

ATMEGAs are a popular family of microcontrollers within the AVR family. Most Arduino boards use ATMEGA chips, so this could be a natural progression from Arduino to integrating microcontrollers into your own boards.

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