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. Netduino is my favourite development platform. It’s couples both power and ease of use with one of the best development IDE’s out there. It’s 100% open source and developers have a choice between Visual Basic or C# using the .NET Micro Framework (NETMF). The ethernet ready Netduino Plus has been the workhorse for most of my projects. However, Netduino Go is maturing into a fantastic ecosystem and is quickly becoming my development board of choice. As more and more modules come to light from both Netduino and enthusiastic community builders, and the ability to create my own custom modules, the Go is only limited by my lack of creativity.

    To find out why the Netduino drives my passion for electronics, check out my recent post:

  2. Arduino Nano. This small board does it all. USB for programming, 5v and 3.3v regulators, I2C and SPI and enough analog and digital pins for most jobs. All this on a board that can plug into a socket or a breadboard. It’s available from many sources so I don’t need to worry about my design becoming obsolete (< $20 on eBay). Free software too.

  3. I am partial to the TI MSP430 Launchpad with MSPGCC / MSPDEBUG. I’ve also dabbled with Code Composer Studio V5.1 for Linux.

    For more serious projects, I have the MSP-EXP430FR5739 (the FRAM board) and the MSP-EXP430F5529 among others. I’ve picked up a lot of these parts on the 50% off TI Deals specials.

    However, I work with a little bit of everything, since I have boards for 68HC11, 8051, Arduino, the various ST ARM Discovery boards that are often featured here (hardly worked with these), some Renesas boards, and TI C2000 (still waiting on my Stellaris Launchpad to arrive as well as my Raspberry Pi).

  4. I am building an Energia-compatible board that uses the CC430, so it includes wireless connectivity and quite a rich library/RTOS for utilizing it. It also includes a sandbox MCU that can host USBserial, GoodFET, etc. When it is finished in about a month, it will certainly be my favorite!

  5. Been using the Leaflabs Maple and Maple Mini for most of my projects but I do have an old Arduino and Arduino Mega. I also have the STM32F0 and STM32F4 discovery boards, but haven’t used them yet, as well as the TI Launchpad, TI FRAM and TI Stellaris EVALBOT development boards plus the new TI Stellaris Launchpad on order
    And if you call it a dev board, I also am using the Raspberry Pi in my Raspbian Rover project.

  6. I keep going back to the ProtoStack development boards because I love AVRs but outgrew Arduino. I also like my projects to stay permanently soldered together for future reference.

    They’re basically a sheet of prototyping board with an Arduino-type setup down one end. There is no USB connection however, you have to program them using ISP.

    If I need to make something smaller I just use stripboard and do it the hard way – but the ProtoStack boards are under $20. (

  7. I mostly create my own board for a specific project, as I believe this is the fastest way to a useful prototype.

    Of course, if you want to explore a certain microcontroller, a development board is a perfect choice.

    Currently, I’m exploring the FEZ Hydra from GHI Electronics (runs a 200MHz ARM9 AT91SAM9RL64). It’s open-source (hardware and software), very fast to develop with (thanks to Visual Studio 2010 and C#), and where needed, can load native C and assembly code. What a perfect combination! Besides of the ability to build your own custom .NET MicroFramework firmware, you can even wipe out everything using a JTAG programmer.

  8. I love the Maple Mini from leaflabs

    It comes in a small DIP-40 breadboardable format.
    It features an STM32 ARM M3 core. There is a plain C library (libmaple) which is IMHO much easier to use than the libraries provided by STM. Then there is also a even more easier (but also more limited) to use C++ library (wirish), which is more or less Arduino compatible. The board has an open DFU bootloader and a toolchain based on simple Unix Makefiles.

    Write your code in C, connect the board via USB, type ‘make install’, done. That’s what I want from an ARM dev board, and the Maple Mini gives me this.

  9. I started with an Atmega8, a Breadboard and some Leds (way before Arduino existed). Later I bought a STK500 and work with this since then. It just contains all you need to easily develop a new project.
    Allthough I have a Propeller Board laying around, I have not yet worked with it. Someday I will. :)

    1. I’m getting a Giant Gecko kit next week. I’m going to the Avnet demo on 7 Nov in San Jose. If it’s as good as I hope, I’ll be making a dev kit with it soon, although probably with a 64 or 128KB unit rather than the Giant Gecko. Energy Micro are the guys from Chipcon who left after TI bought CC, so they are a clever bunch, years ahead of the pack.

  10. As someone with an RPi, I’m a little dissapointed with the level of it’s performance. It’s a great board for the price, don’t get me wrong. But the audio and USB performance just aren’t up to snuff for the project I had in mind for it.

    Could there be a “Fully functioning Linux” category for your dev board round up? Boards that have audio and video out and a fully functioning Linux distro confirmed working for them? There seem to be many RPi competitors, with varying levels of cost, performance, and ease of use for Linux. A good comparison with some feedback from the comment threads would be great.

    In fact, maybe they should be their own articles? RPi competitor reviews? That would be great.

  11. I bought a Parallax Basic Stamp 2 and dove face-first into programming it in assembly (there was a whole book on it included!), not realizing that it also had a BASIC compiler. Discouraged, I bought an Arduino and had the LED blinking within about 5 minutes; I was sold! Picked up a StickDuino for breadboarding and an ethernet shield which *really* did not like my A/C unit. Then I picked up a Netburner 5270 which got shelved after finding out the included tool chain was Windows only and didn’t play well with the Wine emulator. Finally, I went to buy a RasPi only to find them backordered and settled on a Olimex M233 to make a vehicle tracking system.

    1. All they are interested in currently is what you are working with, in my case it is a pair of Netduinos and a pair of Arduinos and the odd Basic Stamp or two. (Sorry group for restating.)

  12. For microcontrollers, I like using TI’s launchpad and the arduinos to prototype a project before going to using the plain AVR or MSP on a designed board… but still I use them to program the chips.

    For the embedded OMAP boards, the one I like the most is the Beaglebone, the project’s documentation is really great and the board itself is easy to expand and integrate for a good quality/price ratio. I have good hopes for the cubieboard that looks like a better OMAP integration than the RaspPi, at a price that is close to it.

    And finally, there’s one board I really love, it’s the Milkymist board, which features a FPGA SoC. It’s the only fully OSHW board, down to the microprocessor’s design and thus it is the most hackable board. It’s a bit expensive though, but if the community helps and buys it, it can get cheaper.

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