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.

Adafruit Feather 32u4/M0 Boards

The Adafruit Feather is a small, lightweight board with a lot of useful features. It has the option for either an ATMega 32u4 microcontroller or an ARM Cortex M0 microcontroller. It can also be ordered with a variety of extras such as a microSD card interface, an Ethernet interface, and multiple different wireless modules for standards such as LoRa, Wifi, and Bluetooth LE.

Like Arduino, the Feather supports many different “shields” (called Wings) that add additional functionality such as GPS and relays. It can also be programmed using the Arduino IDE.

Recommended for beginners: Any of the Feather boards

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

ESP8266 NodeMCU  (Tutorial) (Firmware)

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.

STM32

32-bit microcontrollers/microprocessors with a wide range of peripheral capability, offered by ST.

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