Microcontrollers You Should Know for Arduino

2MSP430 LaunchPad

LaunchPad is a low-cost, low-power-consumption microcontroller from Texas Instruments, the manufacturer of BeagleBone. The Value Line LaunchPadis available for $4.30 in a kit that comes with a second chip. The MSP430 chip also offers a power-saving mode that awakens almost instantly, which may be perfect for remote sensors. At a fraction of the price of Arduino, LaunchPad looks like a good alternative, at least for relatively simple projects. However, it packs 512 bytes of RAM compared with Arduino Uno’s 2 kB, so Arduino might still win out for more complicated work.

Nanode is designed to work like an Arduino, but is made specifically for Internet-connected projects. It features the same ATmega328 processor that the Arduino Uno uses, and you can program it with the Arduino IDE. Nanode uses the open-data API Cosm to connect to the Web for tasks including sending data to the cloud, following online feeds, or acting as the server for a small, simple website. It makes a good development tool for Web-connected sensors, monitors, or controls. The Nanode RF sells for $56.57, a higher price than Arduino. And some assembly is required, so get your soldering iron ready.
4Pinguino PIC32

This is a solid prototyping tool originally designed for art students. The Pinguino is the same size and shape as the Arduino Uno, and like Arduino, Pinguino has open-source hardware to run an open-source IDE. Despite the similarities, though, Arduino and the Arduino forums do not provide support for Pinguino, and the company advises buyers that Pinguino may not work with Arduino libraries or sketches. Pinguino sells for $25.99, but the company recommends that buyers ensure they are experienced and comfortable with the technology first—Pinguino is not a microcontroller for beginners.

5STM32 Discovery

STM32 Discovery from STMicroelectronics is another low-cost alternative; it sells for about $9.88. This one packs a bit more power than the other budget microcontroller on our list, however; Discovery features a 32-bit ARM Cortex M3 core running at 24 MHz with 8 kB of RAM. Be prepared for a smaller user community and less documentation to help you along, however.

6Teensy 2.0
Teensy 2.0 and its counterpart, Teensy++ 2.0, run Arduino software and can support Arduino libraries and sketches, making them a good fit for experienced users who are making a transition from Arduino. Speaking of fit, the Teensy microcontrollers live up to their names; Teensy 2.0 is roughly the size of a quarter, with 25 I/O pins, and Teensy++ 2.0 is only slightly larger. This makes either Teensy a good choice for embedding into projects without a lot of space. Teensy 2.0 sells for about $20, and Teensy++ 2.0 sells for about $27.50. Both feature 16 MHz AVR processors.
Posted By Kiona Smith