If you’re starting out on your embedded development journey, it can sometimes be a little overwhelming when there are so many different boards and microcontrollers on the market. In this post, we are breaking down common embedded development boards and focusing on three boards that are popular for beginner and intermediate developers.
The Arduino Uno is a Microcontroller-based development board that features a ATmega328P Microcontroller. It’s a popular beginner board due to its ease of access and affordability, but its versatility makes it great for more advanced projects that interface with different components such as LCD screen and temperature sensor.
There are a few reasons why people like the Arduino board:
- Open source software: The Arduino IDE is an open-source software designed to let developers easily program and compile code onto the microcontroller. Users have the option to use other programming software like VSCode for more flexibility, but the simple to use Arduino IDE is great if you are just starting to tinker with hardware.
- Plug & play programming: The Arduino’s USB interface makes it easy to plug the board to a computer so the developer can immediately start programming the microcontroller with Arduino IDE without additional hardware.
- Affordable and accessible: The Arduino Uno is easy to find and can be purchased for about $20 USD, making it the perfect beginner board to start off with.
The Raspberry Pi differs from the Arduino board in that it is a Microprocessor-based (Cortex-A series) board that acts as a computer. Because it is essentially a full computer, Raspberry Pi is suitable for running multiple complex applications such as advanced robotics, interfacing with the internet, or playing videos. Raspberry Pi includes Raspberry Pi OS, a Linux-based operating system, and users can develop applications using common programming languages like C, C++, Python, and Java.
Choose the Raspberry Pi if you are looking for:
- A powerful computer with a full operating system: Hobbyists and Makers like the Raspberry Pi because its powerful processors and Linux-based OS is suitable for complex computing applications that need to run simultaneously.
- Inexpensive and accessible board: The based model Raspberry Pi starts at about $35, making it an affordable option for developers that need a powerful processor for their projects.
- Versatile applications: It’s easy to develop software applications using the Raspberry Pi because it’s compatible with common programming languages.
The STM32 is a family of ARM-based 32-bit Microcontroller boards made by STMicroelectronics. STM32 is a popular board because it’s suitable for a variety of applications and more powerful than beginner boards like the Arduino. The STM32 is also a common board used in professional projects, therefore learning how to develop firmware and embedded systems using STM32 is a desirable skills for professional developers.
STM32 is a popular board for more advanced projects because:
- Powerful and accessible: The STM32 family has a few different variations so developers can choose the version that works for their project. They are more powerful than beginner chips like the Arduino but equally inexpensive.
- Open source software: Although setting up STM32 is not as easy as setting up an Arduino, ST provides their own open source software CubeMX that helps developers configure STM32 chips. There are also many third party softwares that are compatible with STM32 since it’s a popular board that many people work with.
- Good for real world applications: While the Arduino is a popular board in the hobbyist and maker community, STM32 chips are more ubiquitous in the professional and real world development due to its high real-time performance. Therefore, learning how to develop with STM32 chips make a great resume builder.
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