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I need to know which platform would be the cheapest, most creative (in terms of flexibility and audience support). I want to introduce a hobby platform. Thus far, I'm toggling between Arduino and PIC. I need to take the cost of the board to the bare minimum possible. My audience are novices. It shouldn't be too complicated, yet it should be flexible enough to let us create as many projects as possible. This means compatibility with external sensors should be good.

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4 Answers 4

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I am in the same position, and I chose the Arduino. There's a nice software development platform, lots of instructional materials, and numerous vendors to choose from.

There's even a really nice open-source "getting started" tutorial.

Check out this beginner's kit. I bet you can adapt this with the clones mentioned by RedGrittyBrick and have a very nice, low-cost setup. Let us know what you end up doing!

Sparkfun Inventors Kit http://www.sparkfun.com/products/10173

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Bare minimum? What about supplying them with a MSP430 Launchpad dev kit? I don't think you can get cheaper than $4.90.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for your responses. I'll give you an idea of where this comes from. I'm from India – a price sensitive market. I'm part of a tech magazine and it's my interest to introduce a hobby platform that school kids will find easy to adapt to...any suggestion? I hope this helps... \$\endgroup\$
    – Nash David
    Commented Dec 26, 2010 at 14:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ India you say? Can you mail me? I am trying to bootstrap a company, the products are just what you want. But the product is not exactly on the shelf. Mail me. There is no finance, no business co founder and no business model. But if nothing you might get a good chat out of this. \$\endgroup\$
    – Rick_2047
    Commented Dec 26, 2010 at 14:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ I would not suggest MSP430 launchpad for starters, It is a great platform for the price but it may be to advanced for beginners. \$\endgroup\$
    – jsolarski
    Commented Dec 27, 2010 at 8:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ yes, msp430 is MUCH harder than arduino \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 27, 2010 at 16:06
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You are not really comparing like with like. PIC is a family of microcontrollers. Arduino is a prototyping platform.

The Arduino platform is popular and easy for novice hobbyists to get started with.

There is probably an equivalent PIC prototyping platform (or several) but, so far as I know, there isn't one with the same sort of appeal or success in the novice/hobbyist marketplace


Low cost Arduino clones

http://appliedplatonics.com/breaduino/
http://www.instructables.com/id/uDuino-Very-Low-Cost-Arduino-Compatible-Developme/
http://www.instructables.com/id/Stripboard-Arduino/
http://blog.makezine.com/archive/2009/01/arduino_on_stripboard.html

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  • \$\begingroup\$ so is your leaning towards Arduino? Please refer to my comment below for more on the background of my question... \$\endgroup\$
    – Nash David
    Commented Dec 26, 2010 at 14:48
  • \$\begingroup\$ I do lean towards the Arduino. For price sensitive markets you can make up your own Arduino breadboard clones using bare components on a breadboard. There are many other examples If you can source components locally at low cost - this might be a good way to get started. The advantage is that you can use the Arduino IDE, perhaps sharing a USB programming cable, and you can participate in the Arduino community. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 26, 2010 at 15:09
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While the Arduino has a nice community, I think the PICs from Microchip offer a lot more options and flexibility. With the free Microchip compiler and $25 to get started with a Microstick it's pretty low cost too.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ AND they allow free samples! Up to 2 orders of up to 2 components per month = 4 micros per month (Note that you must have an e-mail at a different domain than common email providers like comcast or gmail. University emails might work, I've never tried) \$\endgroup\$ Commented Dec 27, 2010 at 0:55