Dev Kit Should Be Your Design’s Starting Point

Understand How & Why a Dev Kit Should Be Your Design’s Starting Point article tells that many electronics designs start with a development kit. That’s a very good point to start. The processor vendors usually offer them at very reasonable prices, or free in many cases.

I think that another good starting point are many open source hardware designs that are available. Examples of such I have mentioned on my blog earlier are various Arduno versions and several ARM dev boards. Especially on low volume products starting from board you can get easily ready made is a good option, and because design is open you can later arrange your own board manufacturing and make your own board version you see needs for them.

I just started a new blog postings category for dev boards


  1. Tomi says:

    Put your dev board to work as a demoscene display

    Demoscene refers to audio and visual demos written to squeeze as much entertainment out of a given platform as possible. We’ve seen demos for a lot of different platforms; for instance, here’s a Propeller chip demo.

  2. Tomi Engdahl says:

    10 Tiny Development Boards That Are Up to the Task

    Not so long ago, the typical development board was big, bulky, and often handmade. Recently a flood of Lilliputian-size development boards has been released — one for just about any need.

    We’ve assembled a collection of 10 boards so small you might lose them in the cushions of your couch.

  3. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Pre-made platforms or development packages has become a key part of the eletroniikan design. Farnell element 1 4-Community A study shows that four out of five, or 79 per cent of the designer as a platform to make use of all elements of the production of the exported final product.

    77 percent of the developers always considers whether assessed in a component in its own development platform.

    44 per cent of the designers says further that could meet the design tasks ​without a ready-made platforms. 89 percent of developers use the platform to test new technologies.

    47 per cent of the developers mentioned the connectivity to the most important of your criteria when choosing a development platform


  4. Tomi Engdahl says:

    “Dot-Org” Boards—A Symptom of Advancement and a Source of New Designs

    Recently I had the opportunity to have a prolonged discussion about open source software and whether it made sense to download and use an open source operating system as the foundation for commercial products. My opinion was emphatically that it did not. To create a commercial product with a unique added value, it does is not practical to download an OS, configure it with needed components from other sources, test all this, document it and then be prepared to support it for customers. That is especially so when the customers are buying your product for its perceived value added, which is not the value of the underlying operating system.

    Somewhat less well known is the world of open source hardware. This is a world of very low-cost processor boards with a complement of interfaces, peripherals, schematics and tools and which are mostly supported by groups of enthusiasts and serious developers. They have names like Anduino, Gizmo, BeagleBoard, Minnowboard and Raspberry Pi. They include modern, powerful CPUs and MCUs and in some versions come complete with development kits. Many of them are openly available from their own organizations as well as well-known distributors and even from—usually for $100 or less.

    Now it has long been possible for hobbyists to purchase PC motherboards and tinker away at building their own PC. Now they have low-cost access to modules that can be used for embedded systems as well. And in many cases, they also have access to a community of tinkerers and developers through web-based associations where they can share ideas, designs, software and even finished projects. They can find and acquire such things as compatible displays. That is why I, at least, have given these things the nickname “dot-org boards.”

    There is also a cultural aspect to all this and that is that with their ease of use and especially with their price, kits like these are getting into the hands of kids, who are already more computer savvy than any of us dare imagine. Schools are starting to take advantage of them and science fairs are showing the results. What was once considered the realm of advanced engineers and scientists is now becoming commonplace for bright kids, hobbyists and tinkerers much like the ham radio technology of the past (or maybe not so past).

  5. Tomi Engdahl says:

    12 top crowdfunded IoT devices and what became of them

    The availability of low-cost microcontroller development boards, open-source tools and software, and drop-in wireless modules has opened IoT design to a wide range of potential developers. Combined with crowdfunding, these trends have created an unprecedented opportunity for entrepreneurs to create and market innovative IoT device designs. Here are a dozen of the most highly funded such devices and what became of them.

  6. Tomi Engdahl says:

    Seeing eights: 8-bit EVB for $8.88–8-bit-EVB-for–8-88?_mc=NL_EDN_EDT_EDN_designideas_20141202&cid=NL_EDN_EDT_EDN_designideas_20141202&elq=cae2cf6d17574f61b6dc70212cbaf1a6&elqCampaignId=20428

    Atmel’s new Xplained Mini evaluation kits for their AVR ATmega microcontrollers support full debugging features in conjunction with Atmel Studio software.

    The boards are USB-powered, run at 16MHz, and will even mate with Arduino shields.

    ATmega168PB Xplained Mini

    ATmega328P Xplained Mini

  7. Tomi Engdahl says:

    A Chimera of Standards, or the Challenges of Adapting Prototyping Standards–or-the-Challenges-of-Adapting-Prototyping-Standards?elq=c05807ef59d24d78b5d5539b87c1e6c4&elqCampaignId=21288

    Through the years there has been a proliferation of standards, and not many industries have created more than our electronics industry. Do you ever wonder why we have a standard for something that seems to be an odd number or gauge?

    Development Board Expansion Standards

    For years component manufactures have offered development systems to assist their customers with designing applications around their parts. For programmable devices such as FPGAs and microcontrollers, there are always connections for interfacing to the other components so that software development can begin along with, or before, the hardware. With time, very loose pseudo standards for these “expansion interfaces” have emerged, some more consistent than others. FPGA vendors such as Xilinx have driven some of these standards like FMC to make it as easy as possible for customers to migrate to the newest platform.

    Xilinx has also used third-party standards like the Pmod™ standard developed by Digilent, and there is a wide selection of peripherals for this interface. Microcontroller manufacturers have been somewhat slower to standardize, many utilizing their own proprietary interfaces. However, market forces like the maker movement and the popularity of the Arduino® platform are herding them towards pseudo standards too.

    The Pmod interface is a great way to mix and match peripherals with an FPGA development board.
    The type definitions make it easier to use the Pmod interface standard with a microcontroller board, but there are still challenges.

    The Arduino Pseudo Standard

    The Arduino pseudo standard is a completely different beast, a different platform developed for a different audience for different reasons. The original Arduino board simply exposed the pins of a simple microcontroller and added enough supporting devices to make it easy to program, yet still affordable for hobbyists. Because of its simple nature, the original pinout was defined by the capabilities of the microcontroller.
    As the platform evolved to support more-capable processors, this pseudo standard was fragmented with a myriad of pin-muxing combinations with, arguably, more exceptions than rules. Some issues, such as support for different I/O voltages and the inconsistency of I2C signals, were addressed in revision 3 of the UNO board. Yet, anyone pairing an Arduino board (or any of the Arduino derivatives) with a shield still needs to carefully review the compatibility.

    So we have the Pmod interface and the Arduino pseudo standard, both readily available from numerous sources.

    Is there any hope of getting a peripheral from one platform to communicate with a controller from the other? Of course anything is possible, but sometimes the cure is worse than the disease.

    Proposed Solution: Use a Serial-Controlled Crosspoint Switch

    One way to address this mapping problem is to put an array of configuration jumpers on the board. While straightforward, this is certainly neither elegant nor user friendly.

    To implement the I2C type, for example, simply configure the mux so that the SDA pin and Pmod pin 4 are enabled on channel A, and SCL and Pmod pin 3 are enabled on channel B. Channel A and B are arbitrary and can be swapped freely.

    Upon inspection, there is no evidence to suggest that either the Pmod specification or Arduino pseudo standard originated from the back side of a horse. However, the legacy of issues and factors that led to their creation is encoded deeply within their DNA. While the differences between the two standards seem irreconcilable, the MAX14661 enables us to bring the mythical Arduino-Pmod chimera to life.


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