During time I’ve been purchasing or building various microcontroller boards. Most of them were used just to try things out or because they were cheap to get. So I thought, why not to blow dust away and see what we have here. Maybe there will be some fresh thoughts on where to use them.
Probably I should spare a few words about each of them.
First one I would like to mention was My first attempt of making double sided PCB at home. It’s LPC2148 development board. It has all pins available, RS232 serial port to access bootlaoder.
I made it using base board and plug-able board with MCU. It looks pretty ugly, but it was my first step in to knowing ARM microcontrollers. Right now it is collecting dust.
Later I purchased LPC2148 development board from NGX Texhnologies.
It is pretty powerful board with many features like VGA, SD card, sound amplified, keyboard connector, LCD, EEPROM and more. With ARM Cortex technology ARM7TDMI lost its attractiveness, but still it is powerful choice for many projects.
Another important board was Atmega128 Piconomic prototyping. It was released before Arduino was born and seemed pretty attractive.
It has couple nice features like XMEM interface that allows interfacing external SRAM and 4 megabit SPI flash memory. Since project files were open I managed to build it by myself.
Later I’ve got several 128×64 graphical HQM1286404 LCDs. So I built a test board on Atmega16/32.
It was my first try with graphical LCDs. It was fun experience to draw thing on GLCD.
When Arduino came in to play I bought few of them to try things. They are great for fast prototyping.
Sometimes I like to use Arduino boards as regular AVR prototyping boards to program in C because sometimes Arduino style isn’t my favorite choice when I want more control of program flow.
Arduino gave a kick for other MCU to appear in Arduino style. So PIC32 based CipKit UNO32 came in to my box. Got it practically for free and haven’t done anything with it.
FYI it can practically be programmed as Arduino since Mpide is based on Arduino IDE and it supports Arduino bootloader as well. It’s a great choice to get some performance kick and still program it as Arduino.
My first ARM Cortex board was STM32 discovery. It was cheap and attractive choice to go with.
It already has STLink – programer/debugger on board. So no additional expenses to get it working. Great choice for newbies to start leaning ARM Cortex texhnology.
Later followed other ARM Cortex-M3 boards. One of them was powerful STM32F103ZET board.
It has many great features to play with. Like large 3.2” Graphical LCD with touch screen, 512k SRAM, 2MB NOR Flash, 128 NAND flash, 2M serial flash, 2k EEPROM and SD card slot, bunch of buttons and LEDs, ADC connectors, DAC, USB, CAN, RS232, JTAG.
Another ARM Cortex that came in to my hands was ST32F103R board. They were selling on eBay cheap and came with Jlink adapter.
So I grabbed on to get this adapter. Board is also great for prototyping or building projects.
Later Texas Instruments had a good promoting deal on FRAM MSP-EXP430FR5739 boards.
So I grabbed one. Instead of regular flash memory it has FRAM memory which is pretty new technology in embedded world with its benefits and cons. Board came packed with 3axix accelerometer, NTC thermometer, 8 LEDs. So far I only ran couple test programs compiled with CCS.
And my latest purchase was Raspberry Pi model B.
I wanted to get it earlier – model A which came without Ethernet and with 256MB of RAM. But since, there were already a buzz about model B with integrated Ethernet, 512MB of RAM and dual USB connector. This was obvious choice. I am not a big Linux User, but from first experience it is pretty easy to use if you follow any of tutorials found on internet. Great choice to enter Embedded Linux world.
This is pretty much about development boards I could find. Of course there are couple more of them lying somewhere around built on veroboards. One thing you probably noticed is that there is practically no PIC boards (Except ChipKit). From the beginning I was encouraged to start with AVR micros as they had better software base like WinAVR, AVRStudio, AVRDUDE programming environment and tons of programmer adapters. PICs are great micros and seems that there are more free tools to chose, hopefully one day I will give it a try.
Please share in comments, what is your favorite microcontroller and what development boards yo use?