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Educational Boards. March 29, 2012

Posted by hackandfab in Uncategorized.

Before Arduino there where a lot of expensive education platforms/boards. All begun with the MIT brick. The cheapest one just before arduino was the BasicStamp. Arduino intented to be a cheaper clone of Wiring, started to sell a lot and several somewhat compatible clones where done like Pinguino but at first they lacked the best feature of arduino, a lot of shields and a lot of code already done for them. Even though the user code was similar and the languages where compatible the specific assembler code wasn’t. Arduino began to be too small to do complex projects and several ARM clones appeared. At that time Microchip saw it maybe could take on arduino market and adapted Pinguino to it’s PIC32 platform that Olimex sells. Microchip saw that at least it had to be pin to pin compatible with shields. It arrived late and cheap ARM clones where taking the high end market. Meanwhile arduino variants where done, Sanguino, Arduino Mega… but soon it became clear that ARM would dominate the high end. STM32 had a super cheap (less than 14 USD) eval board and STM32 lead to Arduino due but due to arduino.cc close relations with Atmel it’s still a ARM cortex M3 but not a STM32.

While all this was happening, far from microcontrollers, at the netbook/Pc like level there where several attemps.

The first ones where blackfin boards but they didn’t succeded because they arrived too soon and few people where willing to learn a little used chip. Then BeagleBoard was done, learning from what blackfin did well (community, documentation…) and it used an ARM Cortex8 core that everyone was using for low power high end machines so there was a huge code base and a lot of related forums.

Google intented to unite low end boards with it’s Android plattform ADK and Raspberry PI tried the aproach of reducing the price of a Beagleboard. It seems they forgot that one key factor to arduino success were it’s shields.

Lego mindstorm is the direct succesor of the original MIT brick, it also uses an ARM but it’s irrelevant for hobbyists. It’s still a good platform to learn but it’s very expensive and it’s better suited for K12 students.


Update: NXP used a arduino shield style board for their ek040 EVB for the internet of things

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