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10 Tiny Development Boards That Are Up to the Task

7/29/2013 06:05 PM EDT
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mcgrathdylan
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Tiny is right
mcgrathdylan   7/29/2013 8:10:28 PM
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Man, the headline does not lie. Those boards are small with a capital S. I honestly didn't realize there were so many development boards out there with such small form factors.

Caleb Kraft
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Re: Tiny is right
Caleb Kraft   7/29/2013 10:15:27 PM
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Those digisparks are insanely tiny. When I got mine, I was a bit scared I wouldn't be able to solder wires into it.

Patk0317
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Re: Tiny is right
Patk0317   7/29/2013 10:29:27 PM
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I've seen a few of these at the Maker Faire a few months ago. Where can these be purchased? Are they all available from one source or do you need to go to a different comany for each one?

Patk0317
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Re: Tiny is right
Patk0317   7/29/2013 10:31:30 PM
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BTW you can check out the freesoc mini at www.freesoc.net . Many of the Schmartboards are also in a small form factor. http://www.schmartboard.com/

Caleb Kraft
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Re: Tiny is right
Caleb Kraft   7/30/2013 10:38:43 AM
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The SchmartBoard looks pretty cool. I hadn't seen that one. The addition of the two capacitive touch modules is pretty cool! I wouldn't mind playing with that one.

Caleb Kraft
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Re: Tiny is right
Caleb Kraft   7/29/2013 10:46:53 PM
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I linked to where each item could be purchased within the story. Find the one you're looking for and the link should take you to where you can buy it.

GordonScott
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Re: Tiny is right
GordonScott   7/30/2013 11:59:48 AM
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Much of the limit to size is sensibly getting useful signals in and out.

None of these boards have gone to die-bond and globbing.

 

Using standard parts (not bare) I laid out a board a few years ago with a TI uBGA MSP430 DSP on one side, a DFN EEPROM on the other, several OPAs and a bunch of related discrete, thermistors and a pressure sensor, all on 19mm x 6.9mm.

Not a development board, of course, but not pushing the shrink limits all that hard, either.  (wildlife telemetry fwiw).

Sanjib.A
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Re: Tiny is right
Sanjib.A   7/30/2013 12:33:47 PM
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These kind of development boards not only help the engineers, but also help the students and electronics enthusiasts to develop innovative staffs at a very low cost. About 12 years back I bought a 8951 board which was 10-15 times larger than these boards and I paid ~$100. I used that a lot learning and doing several home automation staffs. The enthusiasts now can do much more with these tiny things without spending more money. 

rick merritt
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Re: Tiny is right
rick merritt   7/30/2013 2:02:24 PM
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@Sanjob: Good historical prespective!

fredrik.nyman
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Re: Tiny is right
fredrik.nyman   7/30/2013 5:09:01 PM
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The Gumstick deserves a mention; it was one of the very first tiny dev boards.

rick merritt
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I'd love to see a chart with IO
rick merritt   7/29/2013 9:23:42 PM
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Very cool collection of ultra small dev boards I had never heard of.

I'd love to see a single table that lists them to easily compare price/size and most importantly the trade offs they make in IO to get so small.

Kudos for bringing these to light, Caleb!

Caleb Kraft
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Re: I'd love to see a chart with IO
Caleb Kraft   7/29/2013 11:18:40 PM
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the single table idea would be cool but would get so huge. There are so many variations available that it would get very difficult tracking them all down. I wonder if someone has already done it?


If not, maybe we should.

rick merritt
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Pix
rick merritt   7/29/2013 9:25:03 PM
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BTW, I love the composite photos you are doing on your slideshow opener pages, too. Send me a cheat sheet on how you do it when you can.

Caleb Kraft
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Re: Pix
Caleb Kraft   7/29/2013 11:17:32 PM
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haha, just simple photoshop. Nothing special. Just trying to make something fun to look at!

Michael Dunn
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Teensy
Michael Dunn   7/29/2013 9:50:22 PM
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That Teensy 3 is cute, but it doesn't appear to work with the Arduino IDE.

Caleb Kraft
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Re: Teensy
Caleb Kraft   7/29/2013 10:01:29 PM
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I've used the teensy 2 on multiple occasions building game controllers for people who are physically disabled. It works very well with the arduino IDE. I haven't personally tried the teensy 3.

skiptabor
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Re: Teensy
skiptabor   7/31/2013 11:14:10 AM
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I'm wokring with the Teensy3 right now and it does infact support the Arduino IDE / language. You'll need to download and install the Teensyduino (URL below) add-on, but once you do you are good to go. You may need to tweak some 3rd party libraries to get them to work, but I am currenlty using the Mirf lib for the NRF24L01 and it seems to be working fine without any changes. So far I think it is a great little dev board with lots of peripeherials and power to spare. I also really love the formfactor, being able to just plug it into a breadboard is great, and for one off's you can just solder it in like it was a standard dip package. It also one-ups the Leonardo in the USB HID area with native MIDI device support, which I think is sorely lacking from the Leonard. 

http://www.pjrc.com/teensy/td_download.html

Susan Rambo
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Story board
Susan Rambo   7/29/2013 10:03:09 PM
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Nice slideshow, Caleb. What other boards have you used from your slideshow? Anyone else use any of these boards? What was your experience like and what do you make? Share a story, post a comment. Thanks. 

Caleb Kraft
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Re: Story board
Caleb Kraft   7/30/2013 7:59:00 AM
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I've used the digispark, the femtoduino, and the teensy (teensy2, not teensy3). I had good experiences with all of them. The only gripe I had was how you had to program the femtoduino (it had no usb initially), but they fixed it. 

Caleb Kraft
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Re: Story board
Caleb Kraft   7/30/2013 11:30:57 AM
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Actually, here's a good example of the use of the Teensy 2

I used one to emulate keyboard and mouse movement in a game controller for a kid who has muscular dystrophy. I chose the Teensy 2 because it natively supports HID. I can plug it into any computer and it will be seen as a keyboard and mouse. I don't have to install any software at all. 

This makes it a great choice for gaming controllers and I can make it, then ship it to someone. All they have to do is plug it in and it works!

kfield
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Lilypad just got smaller
kfield   7/30/2013 7:34:21 AM
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I've used the Arduino Lilypad for a clothing project and it's nice to see there is a smaller verrsion now , wll come in handy for designs with a small footprint!

Caleb Kraft
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Re: Lilypad just got smaller
Caleb Kraft   7/30/2013 10:42:54 AM
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What did you make with it? I have a Flora sitting here that is just dying to go into something!

kfield
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Re: Lilypad just got smaller
kfield   7/30/2013 11:23:19 AM
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@calebkraft Well, since you asked, the concept was to sew the lilypad into a Fedora so that I would have a blinking light show around the brim.

The project didn't quite turn out as lovely as I hoped, in fact it was rather ugly, and there were a few technical challenges and even bloodshed along the way but I learned a lot. The coding (to the extent there is coding) was easier than the sewing!!

 

Happily sewing

 




Caleb Kraft
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Re: Lilypad just got smaller
Caleb Kraft   7/30/2013 11:25:19 AM
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At least you actually made something! Did you get the light patterns working? Was this for a conference or just for fun? 

I think I'd be tempted to use a tightly packed RGB LED strip now that they're so widely available. 

kfield
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Re: Lilypad just got smaller
kfield   7/30/2013 11:31:27 AM
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@calebkraft I made it for the DIY Gadget Freak Clinic at DESIGN West 2014. It was fantastic - six of us gave short, five minute presentations of our gadgets and had a lot of fun interacting with the audience. We're doing it again in 2014, if you're ready to get motivated and do something with your FLora!!

rick merritt
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Re: Lilypad just got smaller
rick merritt   7/30/2013 2:01:43 PM
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@Karen: Ouch!

Caleb Kraft
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Another for the list
Caleb Kraft   7/30/2013 10:41:42 AM
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Someone brought the Jeenode to my attention. It looks pretty cool, but I'll be happy never to have to use another usb to serial converter again. They have RF modules bult in though, so that makes up for it.

 

You can buy the Jeenode as a kit that you assemble yourself. That is also kind of neat.

Max The Magnificent
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Re: Another for the list
Max The Magnificent   7/30/2013 12:23:25 PM
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@Caleb: Someone brought the Jeenode to my attention...

The frustrating thing for me is that I would have killed to have this sort of thing when I was younger, but there was nothing like these boards available -- and now that they are available (and affordable) I simply don't have the time to play with them (sad face).

Robotics Developer
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Re: Another for the list
Robotics Developer   10/31/2013 10:27:31 PM
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Max, I completely relate to your post!  I would have killed for these when I was a kid and now that they are out and low cost I just don't have the time to PLAY anymore..  Very sad face.  I was wondering what the various programming options are for these boards.  Only one really talked about an on line compiler and while I am familiar with the PIC programming they are very difficult (at least the 32bit ones) to configure properly.  I would love to see an overview of the free/low cost compiler programming options for these and other low cost boards!!

BartMan2
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Re: Another for the list
BartMan2   1/9/2014 10:49:37 AM
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I've used the CCS C compiler for PICs for about 5-7 years now.   I really like it.  Some C compilers don't come with many built-in functions, but CCS does.   They cover most all of the PICs except for the 32bit PICs.    

You can download their manual for free on their site below:

http://www.ccsinfo.com/content.php?page=compilers&navcode=/mccoy_comp

 

They also offer educational discounts.   However,  some time ago, I got a lower-cost license as a hobbiest, agreeing not to use it for any profit venture.  Not sure if they still offer that.   Their IDE is really good.  Their software works with their programmers or Microchip's programmer units.

http://www.ccsinfo.com/ccs-education-offers.php?navcode=/mccoy_edu

kenw1213
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Dev boards
kenw1213   7/30/2013 11:48:01 AM
Surprised you did not mention TI's Launchpad.  At $9.99 from TI for the MSP-EXP430G2, it is small (2" x 2.5"), inexpensive and easy to use.

Texas Instruments MSP-EXP430G2

Caleb Kraft
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Re: Dev boards
Caleb Kraft   7/30/2013 11:50:43 AM
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I thought about it, but I think, compared to the others, it is quite large. It will most likely end up in another article with the arduinos and stuff like that. 

kenw1213
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Re: Dev boards
kenw1213   7/30/2013 11:51:33 AM
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Agreed

docdivakar
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Re: 10 Tiny Development Boards That Are Up to the Task
docdivakar   7/30/2013 6:26:56 PM
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This is an excellent compilation... just like @Max The Magnificent says below, it would have been great if these were available even 10 years ago, would have made serious changes to my career! I also see some one below commented on TI's Launchpad which is another good one for school kids to play with (and some grownups watching & wishing!).

MP Divakar

elctrnx_lyf
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Re: 10 Tiny Development Boards That Are Up to the Task
elctrnx_lyf   7/31/2013 6:04:36 AM
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These boards are really great and one observation is all th eboards have the mini USB connector for the interface to computer.

marcelito69
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King of development boards
marcelito69   7/31/2013 3:06:43 PM
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I can`t believe you left put the king of development boards : Pololu Witcel!!
Besides housing the industry standar 8051, it includes a full featured RF link!
Avaliables FREE libraries allow to set a UART wireless link in 2'.
Priced at 19 dollars this little thing is a bang for the buck!

http://www.pololu.com/catalog/product/1336



Caleb Kraft
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Re: King of development boards
Caleb Kraft   7/31/2013 3:09:32 PM
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That's why we have good commenters! That was a good catch, I completely overlooked it. 

marcelito69
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Re: King of development boards
marcelito69   7/31/2013 3:14:29 PM
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Thank you..
Nevertheles..your's was en excellent post

marcelito69
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another David
marcelito69   7/31/2013 3:13:48 PM
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not to mention little JeeNode..with RF included

http://jeelabs.net/projects/hardware/wiki/JeeNode



K.Gray
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The tiny boards just keep on coming.
K.Gray   11/17/2013 2:21:02 PM
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Another very new tiny development board is the RFDuino. It's just a tiny bit larger than the Digispark, and needs a seperate USB shield for programming. On the plus side, it's got an ARM Cortex M0 CPU, and low energy Bluetooth 4.0 built in. Programming is via the Arduino IDE, with some added hardware libraries and definitions. Many Arduino libraries will work unchanged, as long as they're not too hardware specific.

They're just finishing digging out from under a mountain of Kickstarter backers, so it's still in nthe preorder stage, but at $21 each, it looks very interesting.

alex_m1
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Tiny shields
alex_m1   1/27/2014 5:16:33 PM
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There's also the tiny duino - a tiny arduinon format 20*20mm, with a variety of tiny expansion boards.

https://tiny-circuits.com/products/tinyduino/

 

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