During this time, I’ve been purchasing or building various microcontroller boards. Most of them were used to try things out or because they were cheap to get. So I thought, why not 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.
The first one I would like to mention was My first attempt at making a double-sided PCB at home. It’s the LPC2148 development board. It has all pins available, RS232 serial port to access the bootloader.
I made it using baseboard and plug-able board with MCU. It looks pretty ugly, but it was my first step into knowing ARM microcontrollers. Right now, it is collecting dust.
Later I purchased LPC2148 development board from NGX Texhnologies.
It is a 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 a 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 a couple of excellent features like the XMEM interface that allows interfacing external SRAM and 4 megabits SPI flash memory. Since project files were open, I managed to build them 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 a fun experience to draw things on GLCD.
When Arduino came in to play I bought a 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 into 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 a cheap and attractive choice to go with.
It already has STLink – programmer/debugger on board. So no additional expenses to get it working. A great choice for newbies to start learning ARM Cortex technology.
Later followed other ARM Cortex-M3 boards. One of them was a 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, a bunch of buttons and LEDs, ADC connectors, DAC, USB, CAN, RS232, JTAG.
Another ARM Cortex that came into my hands was the ST32F103R board. They were selling on eBay cheap and came with a 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, pretty new technology in the embedded world with its benefits and cons. Board came packed with a 3axix accelerometer, NTC thermometer, 8 LEDs. So far, I only ran a couple of test programs compiled with CCS.
And my latest purchase was Raspberry Pi model B.
I wanted to get it earlier – model A that came without Ethernet and 256MB of RAM. But since, there was already a buzz about model B with integrated Ethernet, 512MB of RAM, and a dual USB connector. This was the obvious choice. I am not a big Linux user, but it is pretty easy to use from the first experience if you follow any of the tutorials found on the internet. A great choice to enter the Embedded Linux world.
This is pretty much about development boards I could find. Of course, there are a couple more of them lying somewhere around built on veroboards. One thing you probably noticed is that there are practically no PIC boards (Except ChipKit). From the beginning, I was encouraged to start with AVR micros as they had a better software base like WinAVR, AVRStudio, AVRDUDE programming environment, and tons of programmer adapters. PICs are great micros, and it seems that there are more free tools to choose from. Hopefully, one day I will give it a try.
Please share in comments, what is your favorite microcontroller and what development boards yo use?