Hobby MCU Notes - Projects - Audio Artillery

Hobby MCU Notes

  1. Intro
  2. Hardware Families
  3. Arduino
  4. Blue Pill
  5. NodeMCU
  6. Displays
  7. Links

1: Intro

There are a lot of options for Arduino-like systems. This is just a collection of notes about what's out there.


2: Hardware Families

The prices below reflect the bargain basement price (generally buying direct from China and waiting for weeks).

FamilyProcessor TypeOS/BSPPriceNotes
Arduino Uno, Mega, etcAVRArduino$2+Vanilla Arduino. Very popular.
Arduino Due, Zero, etcARM Cortex-MArduino$13Faster and more memory than AVR based Arduino.
MapleARM Cortex-M3Arduino$12I don't know much about these.
"Blue Pill"ARM Cortex-M3Arduino$2Nameless but popular "STM32duino" option.
Teensy 3.xARM Cortex-M4Arduino$20+Tiny Arduino competitor.
NodeMCUTensilica XtensaNodeMCU or Arduino$4Built-in WIFI. Native BSP is Lua-based scripting.
Rasberry PiARM Cortex-A53Linux$35This is basically just a small computer.
Orange PiARM Cortex-A7Linux$10Low cost Raspberry Pi clone.


3: Arduino

AVR-based Arduinos are very easy to get up to speed on. The provided IDE has a lot of examples built into it. Note: Chinese Arduino copies usually use the CH34x USB chipset which requires a special driver on OSX.

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There are a lot of Arduino variants. This spec table is handy for comparing them. The most common variants are listed below.

Uno16 MHz2 kB32 kBBasic model.
Mega16 MHz8 kB256 kBMore of everything.
Lily Pad8 MHz2 kB32 kBSewable I/O pads, small form factor.
Nano16 MHz2 kB32 kBVery small.

The Uno and Mega boards can accept a wide variety of "shields" (peripheral boards). These are rarely cost effective but can simplify wiring significantly if there's a shield that does what you want.

The ARM-based Arduino's are unique in that they only tolerate 3.3V I/O instead of 5V. They don't seem very popular. They're expensive and the advanced users that should be drawn to them have a lot of other options.

DueCortex-M3 @ 84 MHz96 kB512 kBMost powerful Arduino-branded option.
ZeroCortex-M0 @ 48 MHz32 kB256 kBIntended for low power use cases.


4: Blue Pill

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This is a handy little device. It's about the same size as the Arduino Nano and can be had for about $2 shipped. Among the features is a 72 MHz Cortex-M3, 20 kB of RAM, and 64 kB of flash. You generally need a JTAG device to load a bootloader onto them, but after that you can use the Arduino IDE to download code.

Unlike the Arduino ARM boards this device has many 5V tolerant pins. This can make interfacing to peripherals easier.


5: NodeMCU

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Technically these are ESP2866 development boards and NodeMCU refers to the Lua-based software platform. These are the cheapest and probably the simplest way to get sensor data onto a regular wifi network.

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