I won the MSP430FR5969 LaunchPad Development Kit in a Twitter contest run by Digi-Key. It features include MSP430 ULP FRAM technology based MSP430FR5969 16-bit MCU, 64KB FRAM, 2KB SRAM, 16-Bit RISC Architecture, up to 8-MHz FRAM access/ 16MHz system clock speed, 2 buttons and 2 LEDs for user interaction. More information can be found on TI’s LaunchPad website.
Texas Instruments offers a cross compiler for its MSP 430 microcontrollers, but I haven’t done any work with it yet.
Gadget Factory crowdfunded the development of Papilio DUO in Kickstarter. I got mine a few weeks ago and managed to install Papilio Design Lab rather easily.
Elektor offered an Atmel SAM D20 Xplained Pro Evaluation Kit for very small money and publishes a programming course in the magazine. It uses a SAM D20J18 from the ARM-Cortex-M0+ family, has 256 kB flash memory, 32 kB SRAM and runs with up to 48 MHz.
I haven’t started working with it because the course uses Windows based software, which I won’t use. In the meantime the needed cross compiling chain is on my laptop and I hope I can spent some hours for experiments in the near future.
Here’s a good idea to start experimenting with Arduino, without investing into a plethora of shields: 1Sheeld. As the name somehow states, it’s one shield that can replace a lot (I counted 38 on their site). You will need a smartphone, though, because 1Sheeld connects with it via Bluetooth and simulates the shields using an app.
Once again I crowdfunded a hardware project, this time Joypad made by Microduino. Joypad is a board where a Microduino core is plugged in. It’s quite compatible with Arduino, so experimenting with it is easy.
While communication with Microduino could be better, their service is very good. My first joypad had the wrong Microduino on it (Core instead of Core+) and was soldered badly. I got a replacement fast and for free. 10 of 10 points for that!
Mircroview is an Arduino derivate with an integrated display. Manufactured by SparkFun it was delivered in time and worked perfectly.
A very successful crowdfunding project by Damien George resulted in an interpreter called MycroPython version for microcontrollers and a very nice ARM based board to experiment with, called pyboard. The board presents itself as a USB storage device. Having the interpreter on board (pun intended) the code is just placed into a directory and runs after a reset. A 3-axis accelerometer and some other goodies on board, allow the user to start learning more about hardware and python.
NavSpark GPS/GNSS is the result of a crowdfunding campaign, which aimed to create a Arduino compatible board, that includes GPS/GNSS hardware. It supports Arduino IDE for Linux und is populated with an 100MHz 32bit LEON3 Sparc-V8. 1024KB flash memory, 212KB RAM and a power consumption of ~80uA/MHz @ 3.3V makes it very interesting for mobile applications.
I haven’t done much more than a trying a few sketches out with that board, so I can’t really judge it.
Stellaris® LM4F120 LaunchPad Evaluation Kit is populated with ARM® Cortex™-M4F-based microcontrollers from Texas Instruments. It comes with programmable user buttons and an RGB LED for custom applications. The board can be programmed using Linux, but I must confess, that when I tried the instructions found here, I failed. In the meantime I managed to compile and install a cross compiling chain for ARM processors and will give this board another try soon.
LPC800 Mini-Kit is another Evaluation Kit, this time from NXP. It is populated with a DIP8 packaged LPC810, an ARM Cortex-M0+ based, low-cost 32-bit MCU operating at CPU frequencies of up to 30 MHz. Linux tools already exist, so minimalistic projects can be created with it.
Back in 2005, the magazine Elektor gave away a small board with an R8C controller on it. I did some experiments but wasn’t really happy with it…
If time allows, I’ll come back to add more information.