A closer look at some of today’s most popular development boards to help you get started on your next IoT design.
With billions of everyday objects expected to become Internet-enabled over the next couple of years, Makers are continually seeking new ways to add connectivity to their designs. As a result, hobbyists and engineers are turning to a wide range of IoT development boards and platforms to better accelerate and ease the process.
Being at the heart of the IoT and all, we’ve decided to compile a list of just some of today’s most popular, Atmel powered ones that will surely help as you embark on your next prototype or project. (Keep in mind, there are countless others, with new ones popping up on the daily!)
SAM R21 Xplained Pro
The Atmel | SMART SAM R21 Xplained Pro is a hardware platform to evaluate the ATSAMR21G18A microcontroller. Supported by the Atmel Studio integrated development platform, the kit provides easy access to the features of the Atmel ATSAMR21G18A and explains how to integrate the device in a custom design. The Xplained Pro MCU series evaluation kits include an on-board Embedded Debugger, and no external tools are necessary to program or debug the ATSAMR21G18A. A great option for those developing an 802.15.4/ZigBee design.
The Arduino Uno R3 is a microcontroller board based on the ATmega328. It has 14 digital input/output pins (of which six can be used as PWM outputs), six analog inputs, a 16 MHz crystal oscillator, a USB connection, a power jack, an ICSP header, and a reset button. Simply connect it to a computer via a USB cable or power it with a AC-to-DC adapter or battery to get started.
The Arduino Yún is a microcontroller board based on the ATmega32U4 and the Atheros AR9331. The board comes with built-in Ethernet and Wi-Fi support, along with a USB-A port, microSD card slot, 20 digital input/output pins (of which seven can be used as PWM outputs and 12 as analog inputs), a 16 MHz crystal oscillator, a micro USB connection, an ICSP header, and three reset buttons. What’s more, Facebook’s Parse recently unveiled a new line of SDKs for connected devices with the first Arduino SDK targeted for the Yún.
Arduino Pro Mini
Intended for semi-permanent installation in connected objects, the Arduino Pro Mini is based on the ATmega328. The board boasts 14 digital input/output pins (of which six can be used as PWM outputs), six analog inputs, an on-board resonator, a reset button, and holes for mounting pin headers. A six-pin header can be connected to an FTDI cable or Sparkfun breakout board to provide USB power and communications.
The Arduino Nano is a small, breadboard-friendly board based on the ATmega328. The microcontroller has more or less the same functionality of the Arduino Duemilanove, but in a different package. It lacks a DC power jack, and works with a Mini-B USB cable instead of a standard one.
With an Atmel ATmega256RFR2 at its core, Pinoccio is a wireless, web-ready MCU packed with Wi-Fi, LiPo battery and a built-in radio. Each unit can communicate with one another using a mesh network, making them 14 times more efficient than standard Wi-Fi devices.
The TinyCircuits TinyDuino is an Arduino-compatible, ATmega328P based board in an ultra-compact package that provides Makers with the full power of an Uno in a size that’s less than a quarter.
UDOO is a multi-development platform solution for Android, Linux, Arduino and Google ADK 2012. The board, which is built upon an ARM Cortex-A9 CPU and Atmel | SMART SAM3X8E ARM Cortex-M3 CPU, is designed to provide a flexible environment that lets Makers explore the new frontiers of the Internet of Things and switch between Linux and Android in a matter of seconds, simply by replacing the MicroSD card and rebooting the system.
Waspmote is an open-source, ATmega1281 based wireless sensor platform specially focused on the implementation of low consumption modes to enable the sensor nodes to be completely autonomous and battery powered, offering a variable lifetime between one and five years depending on the duty cycle and the radio used.
The AirBoard is a thumb-sized, all-in-one MCU designed for ultra-fast prototyping on IoT projects. The open-source board is equipped with an ATmega328P and pre-loaded with the standard Arduino Fio bootloader. The wireless-friendly computer supports automatic over-the-air programming via Bluetooth, Wi-Fi or XBee, and can be controlled by smartphone or the web.
Tessel 2 is an affordable, accessible and robust development platform that lets Makers build connected hardware devices. The board packs built-in Wi-Fi, an Ethernet jack, a pair of USB ports, and a system that runs real Node.js/io.js. Meanwhile, it employs a processor/coprocessor architecture, combining an Atmel | SMART SAM D21 Cortex M0+ MCU to control I/O and a Mediatek MT7260n Wi-Fi router SoC to run user code, host USB devices and handle the network connections.
panStamps are small wireless modules programmable within the Arduino IDE. Each module contains an Atmega328P MCU and an RF interface, providing the necessary connectivity and processing power to create autonomous low-power wireless motes.
Flutter is a $36 wireless Arduino with a half-mile range that lets users develop mesh networking protocols and connected devices in an efficient yet inexpensive manner. It’s perfect for robotics, consumer electronics, wireless sensor networks, and educational platforms. Flutter is packed with a powerful Atmel | SMART SAM3S Cortex-M3 processor, while an ATSHA204 crypto engine keeps it protected from digital intruders.
SODAQ is a LEGO-like rapid prototyping board driven by an ATmega328P that gives Makers and engineers the ability to easily connect a wide variety of sensors and devices to the Internet efficiently. With its solar powered data acquisition technology, data can be collected virtually anywhere and seamlessly transferred to the web.
Billed as the smallest Arduino Leonardo compatible clone, the IMUduino includes an ATmega32U4 at its core, as well as USB keyboard/mouse emulation, on-board Bluetooth LE, real-time orientation and motion sensing IMU, as well as a 10V max voltage regulator.
The SparkFun RedBoard combines the simplicity of the Arduino Uno’s Optiboot bootloader, the stability of the FTDI and the R3 shield compatibility of the latest Arduino Uno. The ATmega328 based board can be programmed over a USB Mini-B cable using the Arduino IDE.
The XinoRF is an Arduino-compatible electronics development board with an onboard 2-way Ciseco SRF data radio, which supports over-the-air programming, features built-in wireless capabilities and is powered by an ATmega328P.
The Rascal is a small, AT91SAM9G20 powered computer that Makers can use to monitor and control their connected world remotely. In addition, it features its own web-based editor on-board, is compatible with most Arduino shields, and can be programmed in Python.
Microduino is a quarter-sized Arduino-like board with an ATmega328P at its heart. With a unique UPin-27 pinout, Microduino’s plug-and-play modules can be easily stacked together to add functionalities.
Nanode is an open-source, Arduino-like board that is equipped with built-in Internet connectivity and based on an ATmega328P. The low-cost, upgradeable board is ideal for those looking to bring their IoT ideas to life.
The OpenKontrol Gateway is an ATmega328 driven kit that enables communication between many common mediums and protocols. It is totally compatable with the Arduino IDE and supports Wi-Fi, low-power RF, Ethernet and Bluetooth. Beyond that, it can be configured with on-board SRAM, an SD card, a real-time clock, and a coin-cell battery and sports an FTDI programming port.
Arietta G25 is an uber-mini system-on-module powered by a SAM9G25 ARM9 processor. The 20mm x 50mm board, which was developed with the Maker community in mind, is ideal for low-power, embedded gadgets and other DIY IoT devices.
WIOT is an open-source, rechargeable development board for the Internet of Things built around the ATmega32U4. WIOT also boasts integrated Wi-Fi capabilities through an on-board ESP8266 module.
SmartEverything is a dev board equipped with sensor options, communication interfaces and connection to the cloud for IoT designs. An Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-M0+ based CPU USB host orchestrator chip manages traffic between peripherals, while an Atmel CryptoAuthentication device (ATSHA204) enables the implementation of a full security SHA-256 hash algorithm with message authentication code. The board utilizes the SIGFOX global network cellular connectivity solution to enable access to the IoT.
Apio is an open-source IoT platform, which lets Makers and designers create their own smart systems and connected objects in a matter of minutes. It is comprised of two USB devices, the General and Dongle, both of which are based on an ATmega256RFR2 and ATmega16U2, along with a custom operating system and SDK.
The LightBlue Bean is a Bluetooth Low Energy, Arduino-compatible microcontroller. Using Bluetooth 4.0, it is wirelessly programmed, runs on a coin cell battery and is perfect for smartphone-controlled projects. Powered by an ATmega328P, the board features a three-axis accelerometer, a temperature sensor, an RGB LED, and includes iOS, OS X and Windows 8 support.