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In my previous post I’ve argued about Arduino prices, basically making it my least preferable choice of micro-controller platforms.
Guess what, a friend and colleague of mine sent me this link today (thanks Roger!) , and it changed the whole picture! Arduino for $9?! Well, I realize it’s manufacturer price, and the retail seller doesn’t make any profit on it… but who cares why and how, it’s a $9 board! Ok, about $10-$11 or so if you order 2 or 3 or more, but including shipping price etc… Still, man, it’s pretty cool price for a fully functional board!
Now, this would definitely at least level the ground between Arduino and PICAXE. The price is closing the gap with PICAXE, although you still can get a PICAXE with more legs for that price — from a retail seller.
Of course there is a possibility that PICAXE will make their PIC-based stuff even cheaper… and this is good, that’s what I call competition and free market!
So, if this is a clone of Arduino Leonardo, let’s take a closer look at the latter:
|Input Voltage (recommended)||7-12V|
|Input Voltage (limits)||6-20V|
Well, the de-facto operating voltage is 7 to 12… and their micro-B is for USB connection, not for power supply. Not a big deal though – my understanding is that for the price you get not just the bare board, but also some additional perks, power connector to 9V battery included.
Now, what’s most important for small hobby electronic projects? Number of controlled pins, of course! This little guy has 20 pins, which makes it comparable with PICAXE-20M:
|Digital I/O Pins||20|
|Analog Input Channels||12|
Although PICAXE is still a bit ahead, and unless you are planning mass production of really cheap devices (where PIC MC still seem to be unbeatable) the difference in price between PICAXE project and this Arduino clone becomes really meaningless… I might be switching to Arduino soon.
For now I’ve just ordered two of these little guys… and we’ll see!
Another cool thing, although of a totally different scale is .NET Gadgeteer. It’s a high-level gadget tool kit with a display (!) and joystick (or two?) and stuff like that. For rapid prototyping, or for kids who don’t have patience to do it slowly from the low level.
This page describes it pretty well.