Tell us what development board you love

Back in 2011 we did a short roundup of some popular development boards.  We promised a follow up at some point, and that time is near.  We would really like to make this a fairly comprehensive list and there are always suggestions sent in after the article that we overlooked.

This time, we’re asking that you tell us what dev boards you prefer and why. Either reply in the comments or email us directly at We’ll round up all of your suggestions and bring you the “development board brakedown for 4th quarter 2012”.

Please keep in mind that we can’t possibly know everything about every single board out there, so if there’s some special feature of a board that you love, be sure to let us know!

194 thoughts on “Tell us what development board you love

  1. I buy 2 of each 1 for home 1 for work.
    RpiB 1st gen, Beaglebone, Stellaris, Arduino.

    Each is good for different things. big iron type solns that need RTish linux, the first 2, embedded, the last 2 with Stellaris getting the nod for RT, Arduino for slapping something together fast.

    I am impressed with the Stellaris, the M4 is a really nice CPU and I feel TI did a good job on the peripherals (as far as I have explored). The debugger in CCS seems nice also, I like the eval board with ice that right out the gate I can SS assembly and see the regs on the whole SoC.

  2. The Arduino, of course. It’s not as sexy as RasPi and some of the other newcomers, but it’s inexpensive and is a solid workhorse for most projects, especially with the higher horsepower of some of the more capable Arduino’s. It also has a huge base of users who almost always share information. Hard to beat.

  3. For real world io I like to make a dev board using avr chips. The right chip for the right job.

    For OS based projects the Rasp Pi is the cheapest and best solution. Why it doesn’t have wifi is beyond me.

  4. Well I use a botched prototype of a board that I sell. I made the prototype as a proof of concept for the CGMMSTICK
    and in the prototype I routed a path wrong. I sent away for a couple of panels of this board. The design has been fixed, now, but I don’t want to waste the almost completely useful prototypes.

    It is a case of when you have a hammer everything starts to look like a nail. I use the prototype boards even when a $1 microcontroller would do.

  5. Since it hasn’t been posted yet, and I’ve never seen it on hack-a-day: The Microchip Microstick II”.

    I’m currently using it for a college senior engineering project. The reason that I like it is that the whole board plugs into a breadboard, making it trivial to connect peripherals. 35$ and it includes 2xPIC24, 1xDSPIC33, and 1xPIC32 all in a DIP-28 package.

  6. i own atm:
    C-Control Mega32
    3x C-Control I
    2x Arduino Mega
    1x Arduino UNO
    1x Pandaboard ES

    my favorite is the Arduino, its easy to use
    Just plug-in and write/upload code

    (c-control basic++ has very difficult documentation, and linux is too complicated)

  7. I am an Arduino fan and I also love wireless projects, so the perfect board for me is the seeeduino stalker. It has xbee socket, rtc, lipo charger and sd card slot all rolled into one small board that mounts directly into a small project box. I actually preferred v2 over v3 because it had a super capacitor for the rtc, so no changing lithium cells.

  8. I’ve been coding in Arduino but will make the jump to proper AVR dev when I get some ATtinys I’ve ordered. Everybody seems to have their own homemade board (including me), and I’ve kept a spreadsheet of every one I can find:
    Please send more and I’ll add them.

    I have a bunch scattered around, with breadboards or rats nests or actually attached nicely to things:
    Arduino Stamp, Arduino Diecimila, Adafruit ATmega32u4 BB, JY-MCU Mega (DX knockoff), Duino644, Minimalduino, Sanguino, iDuino, Leonardo, Stripduino, Boarduino, Dorkboard, and Sanguinololu, Freakduino Chibi.
    I don’t mean to be collecting them, I just ended up with a bunch.

  9. I like .net microframework boards because of their easy to use live debugging with Visual Studio. My all time favourite is the Fez Panda from GHI that I’ve had for ages, but my recent favourite is the Fez Hydra because it’s nice and fast and has plenty of memory

  10. Fez Panda, Fez Rhino, Fez Cobra, all freaking awesome boards, and the Fez community is freaking helpful. Debugging with VS is a no brainer. Did I mentioned they are also freaking easy to program? Yes they are indeed. Cool boards, can’t live without them ;)

  11. I use the Arduino Uno because its easy to apply everything into a circuit with an dedeicated Chip

    I trael my Uno board with a bit of stuff in a breadox nearly everywhere where my Laptop is.

    So, when the sofware works, i just need to flash it on a new chip and (possibly solder) it on a PCB

    1. I also like the Rasberry Pi, but more interested in wireless communication than GPU/HDMI/display. Carambola looks promising or a wireless routers that runs embedded Linux and has a few GPIOs with easy access to add I2C connection. Would be nice if someone mass produced those. :)

  12. First, arduino, credit where it is due(pun intended)
    It is so versatile that I have one or two as a Swiss army knife : need to interface to a chip ? Write to that data flash ? Proof of concept gadget , ghetto attiny programmer ? Grab arduino, google, done.

    Then, I really love my stm32f4discovery : separate swd board, cheap as hell a really a powerful minicomputer for the price of a meal, done. the gnu tool chain for those is almost bearable ( which I use, but it could use some polish)

    The raspberry pi was more a software thing, it seems too brittle, and the hardware is almost too powerful for that few GPIOs , so I wouldn’t call it a dev board.

    And then … The trusty bread board ™ and protoboard “dev boards” shouldn’t be forgotten !

    I plan to study CPLDs /FPGAs, what would be a good beginners choice ? ( as in simple to plug& work, cheap, free tools and ability to transfer to nice real chips like avr or stm32 mcus)

  13. Arduino
    Raspberry Pi
    Beaglebone (current favorite)
    Brevia2 (Lattice XP FPGA)

    They all do SOME things well, but none of them do Quite what I want. Which leaves me searching for add-on cards, shields, capes, wings… or trying to make my own.

    While the idea of a Dev board is to help you design your own product, some of these (Pi) are being marketed as an end product. Which would be fine if the extender interface was a standard – but it isn’t.

    I’m following the development of an FPGA card in the Beaglebone Google Group. The designer is trying to include interfaces to the “Big Three” (Pi, Arduino, Beaglebone) on a single board. If that works, it could become a serious contender in its own right:!topic/beagleboard/vsj6e-C_S-s

  14. In this order:
    Netduino Mini
    Netduino Classic
    Then the Arduino, two versions a Mini, and then that one from 2009. I have an Ardweeny here, bought during Maker Faire, but not assembled.

  15. I was schooled on the 8051… using assembly code. don’t much care for it, but it’s what I’ve got. I also have a zilog board that I’ve never touched and has been collecting dust for over 6 years. Typically I just use a breadboard and components for whatever project I’m working with. If I ever get back into complex builds again that require a uC then I’ll probably go for a pic or avr since they seem to have the largest fan bases and lots of opensource to dig through.

    1. as an asside, I do like the rPi… but the one I currently have is working as my webserver (I only have 1Mb upload so it’s well within the ~2.5Mb capability of the rPi) to help reduce the electric bills a bit over my previous atom based server (NES-PC using a little falls 2 itx) that’s now my XBMC box using OpenElec-intel-x64.

  16. I’ve had an Arduino Uno for a couple years, that I like, I started college this past September where a Teensy++ 2.0 was part of our parts kit, and have grown pretty fond of it, using the Arduino IDE, and ease of plugging into a breadboard.
    One thing that I noticed is that when an error is found in the code under the Teensy board selection, the highlight doesn’t highlight the problem area in the code properly, where as using the Uno board selection, it does.

    We are also using the Altera DE1 at school, in Digital lab, but have only scratched the surface of what it can do, and see potential for large scale projects.

    I’m just really getting into hacking and coding, and have been looking at other boards, like Raspbery Pi, mBed, and some other dev boards, but am confused on capabilities of each, so it would be great to compare as many of the popular boards as you could in the write up you have proposed here.

    1st post here on HaD, been a long time lurker though. :D

  17. Am I the only one who read the question as “Which religion do you love?”

    ATHEIST! (Fuck me – right!)

    Protoboard + ZIF + whatever mcu is being used all hooked up with teflon coated WIRE WRAP wire (but soldered) – it looks soooo sexxy.

  18. I’ve recently discovered. the LPCxpresso 1769. It’s completely out of the league of most everything mentioned so far. It’s a 32-bit board with a 120MHz clock, 512kB of program memory, 64k RAM, built-in ethernet compatibility, and more peripheral bus options than could ever be necessary. The dev environment it’s meant to work with is expensive, but TK over at has put together a great free environment, with built in support for just about everything the board has to offer. There are even some RTOS functions included. It’s not quite meant to be a general purpose dev environment, but it works really well as one.

  19. I’m in love with the MSP430 Launchpad (Stellaris on backorder). Who knew you could debug an MCU, right?

    But I wouldn’t have picked up this hobby without the Arduino. Having a stack of PWM ports which you can use before you’ve learnt about timers is really helpful.

  20. As I do all my coding from Linux, and use C++ (including the STL), I prefer ARM micros, in particular the Cortex-M3 and M4.

    The stm32f4discovery is my board of choice, programmed using qstlink2, but when I don’t need that much power the stm32vldiscovery is also good, except for the USB in-circuit programmer that doesn’t work with Linux. However, using an ft232 usb-to serial and stm32flash does the job as well.

      1. I tried to send you some links but the reply doesn’t show up. Perhaps it needs some human clearance, perhaps it gets dropped.
        Anyway, I suggest you use google. There is a project to use stlink with linux, it works perfectly. then you can find a build script for the firmware lib using the arm-gcc toolchain. You still need to fix a few bugs: includes under windows are case-insensitive, but this is not the case with linux. And you’ll get an error concerning register usage with an assembly file. Just copy paste it in google and you’ll find the fix.
        I hope that helps, I got it up and running in an afternoon. I got follow up notifications enabled so if you have more problems just say so.

    1. I also am very impressed by the ARM cortex architecture. And especially the ST mcu’s. Their peripherals are very powerful, I’ve made more than one application in which the main loop didn’t have to do anything and all is done in interrupt handlers. Then you can just constantly put the CPU in sleep mode in the main loop, the interrupt will wake it up, it gets processed, when done control is returned to the main program and it immediately re-enters sleep mode.

      1. That kind of program architecture is possible with most architectures. The advantage of Cortex M is just that you can do some context switching in HW via NVIC. Unless you’re building a system with multiple, high-demand I/O streams, though, you are not likely to need it.

  21. Propeller Proto Board or the Propeller Profesional Develop Board, or the new propeller Quick Start. You get the point, with a Propeller from Parallax and the huge comunity support that comes with it, why spend time with anything else.

  22. Parallax Propeller Quickstart + RPi.

    The Prop run a version of FORTH (google PROPFORTH) that takes full advantage of the chip’s immense capability and executes at assembler speed while allowing fast interactive development.

    The RPi running Go-Language allows a connection between the prop and rpi using Go-Channels and propforth’s multichannel synchronous serial to provide a transparent interface between the two units. This configuration allows the RPi to pretend it has 12.5ns determininist execution (fromthe prop), and the prop pretend it has workstation services (GUI, large RAM, storage, communications) from the RPI. Plus, additional prop chips can be added without limit, and all appear as simply “more cores” in the pool. So its almost like a baby super computer, for under a hundred bucks. Its way cool, but not many people would ever want a baby supercomputer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s