by Shu-Yu Liu
Development boards are circuit boards used for developing embedded systems and they are equipped with a series of hardware components including central processing unit (CPU), memory, and input and output interfaces. The following article introduces the development boards commonly used by Makers, which are Arduino, ESP8266, and Raspberry Pi.
Arduino is a well-known development board that adopts open-source design. In other words, designs for the circuit diagram and firmware can be found on the Internet and also be purchased online at a low price, attracting a large number of developers.
Arduino is known for helping developers design prototype devices within a short time. It is also suitable for small-scale production. The price is low and the development environment is user-friendly, as it assists development using the C or C++ language that is commonly used by programmers. Students who are not familiar with programming languages can also use Scratch language to achieve various actions via Arduino or obtain the readings collected by sensors of Arduino.
ESP8266 & ESP32
When it comes to WiFi modules, people often talk about ESP8266 developed by Ai-Thinker, equipped with the WiFi chip by Espressif. ESP8266 comes at a low price of only about $5 to $7. Since its launch in 2014, ESP8266 has been loved by Makers and it even supports programming languages that include C, C++, Python, and Lua. The strongest suit of ESP8266 is that it comes with a WiFi module, which is convenient for Internet connection and only makes its usage even more diverse. In addition to ESP8266, Espressif also produces ESP32, an even more powerful chip that is also quite popular among Makers.
The small computer that dazzles the whole world and costs only $35! Raspberry Pi is not so much a development board, but more of a small computer based upon a single microcontroller chip. Developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation in the U.K., it is designed to improve the information technology education in schools with low-cost hardware and free software. Raspberry Pi is equipped with interfaces commonly seen on regular computers, such as the Ethernet, USB port, HDMI port, and extended Secure Digital (SD) card input/output.
Several generations of Raspberry Pis have been released. After the release of Raspberry Pi 4, the 4th generation model, in June 2019, Raspberry Pi has gradually become more integrated into a computer.
Makers believe that the most common development boards are Arduino, ESP8266, and Raspberry Pi, which all have their advantages. Arduino is cheap and easy to use; ESP8266 and ESP32 come with settings for wireless Internet connection; Raspberry Pi is even more powerful than the first two. Makers can choose the development board that best suits their needs.