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Thread: will this be a milestone change in embedded tinkering?

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    will this be a milestone change in embedded tinkering?


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    Senior Member adrian's Avatar
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    $5. If it runs mame4all, well .... goodnight nurse!!!!

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    Wondering how it works timingwise for things like controlling a WS2811 strip...
    Will it be as predictable as a microcontroller?

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    Quote Originally Posted by jitter View Post
    Wondering how it works timingwise for things like controlling a WS2811 strip...
    Will it be as predictable as a microcontroller?
    We can look for DMA solutions that already exist using the current RPi.

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    Senior Member PaulStoffregen's Avatar
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    Maybe. This might actually be a turning point. Or maybe not? The future is really tough to predict.

    Deeply subsidized hardware is nothing new. We've seen loss-leader boards like ST Nucleo, Discovery and TI Launchpad on the market for years. But if you follow the maker and hobbyist world, Raspberry Pi and ESP8266 are the only ones which get quite a lot of use in real projects.

    Perhaps this is the beginning of the end for microcontrollers in hobbyist electronics? Or perhaps not? I really don't know, but of course I'm watching & listening.

    The part of all that's most mysterious to me is the $5 retail price at high profit margin distributors. Somebody, somewhere must be taking a loss. Maybe there's a business model that can sustain such losses? Long-term, if the market for independent hardware (like Teensy) dries up, I'm going to have to look pretty seriously at alternate business models!

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    Senior Member adrian's Avatar
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    steveh., jitter ... there is an app for that.

    PaulStoffregen ... $5 does seem really really cheap ...a loss leader as you say. Teensy is great because of your efforts and the community, a real point of difference ... (and the absence of raspberrian linux ;-)

  7. #7
    Can you actually buy it from any of those retailers for $5? I've only seen game console style bundles where they throw in some garbage at retail price forcing you to buy the package for several times the cost of the core product.

    Unless they come up with a more reasonable way to do bare bones programming for it I don't think the RaspberryPi is going to threaten micro controllers anytime soon.

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    Senior Member adrian's Avatar
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    agree ecurtz.

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    Senior Member+ MichaelMeissner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ecurtz View Post
    Can you actually buy it from any of those retailers for $5? I've only seen game console style bundles where they throw in some garbage at retail price forcing you to buy the package for several times the cost of the core product.

    Unless they come up with a more reasonable way to do bare bones programming for it I don't think the RaspberryPi is going to threaten micro controllers anytime soon.
    My local Microcenter listed that they had at least 10 Raspberry Pi Zero's at the local store (Boston/Cambridge) for $5. Of course to do generic IOT things the ESP8266 has the Pi beat, since the Pi doesn't have any networking and you would need to add a USB OTG dongle and wifi card and you need to use a micro SD card to boot from. For one off projects, perhaps many hackers already have those items, but if you are building multiple units, you have to figure on adding the pieces.

    Since the Pi does not have any analog inputs, only one PWM pin, and only one serial port, if you need to do those things, the Teensy LC is perhaps a better choice.

    If you are doing heavy GPS processing, the Pi Zero is now perhaps the best choice over microprocessors like the Teensy, since it has hardware double/single precision floating point.

    If you are doing video the Pi Zero is also interesting due to the clock speed and 0.5 gig of memory, assuming you don't need the DSI camera port that the bigger Pi's have.

    Of course if you want to set up remote server, or DIY tablet, any of the Pi's are in their element.

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    Senior Member sumotoy's Avatar
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    This morning on an Italian newspaper... "Here's a computer for 5 US...", journalist here going silly.
    I really think that this type of products have very small to do with stuff like teensy or early arduino's, I own several pi but I'm mainly use for stuff like OpenCV,server or heavy media handle, it's impossible substitute my teensy for time critical stuff, interfaces, etc., fur such type of things I don't need an OS and a 2A/5V supply! I own also a UDOO quad, the idea was great, a powerful CPU plus a DUE microcontroller in the same board but because poor support and many other problems (like horrible wifi, weird integration of the SAM and not last the cost) now it's catching dust in the library.
    Maybe there's a business model that can sustain such losses?
    absolutely yes! I found in many shop's here in Italy, evaporated in some hours, but what a surprise, they still have it in budget pack or starter pack at the same price of a pi2 or even more! A friend of one of these shops told me that they are selling a lot of budget pack because the people cannot order the single board, and of course the budget pack it's overpriced for what you get!
    if the market for independent hardware (like Teensy) dries up, I'm going to have to look pretty seriously at alternate business models!
    Please noooooooo! You are my hero and things like teensy are diamonds, think about how many projects are drived by Teensy! Just the stuff I have seen around with leds it's possible only by using a fpga that it's not as easy. Now that arduino goes absolutely silly with genuino and totally unsane decisions it remains only Teensy, ESP8266 it's nice, surprisely powerful and unbeatable cheap but doesn't have essential stuff like a serious SPI, a real I2C, GPIO's, etc., it's a nice tiny gadget very useful for play with wifi and get some nice gadget, before ESP add a wifi was costing a fortune and uses too much resources, now that have an almost workable IDE platform people use as standalone but even that it's far away from Teensy.
    You are right when you take time to choose Teensy successor, I have seen the work around this from idea the early time of the first 3.0 (not mention 2 since was another story) and have realized how it's hard, but Paul, you have done an incredible and almost impossible job almost alone (ok, there's some contributors, and happy to say that are all amazing), it's a small community, not big as Arduino or Raspi, but for sure the quality and support of Teensy have NO COMPETITORS and I'm sure you will surprise again everyone with the new Teensy whatever.
    Take me everything but not touch my Teensy 3.1!
    Last edited by sumotoy; 11-27-2015 at 12:28 AM.

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    $5 ?? They can't make money and allow profit margins for retailers!
    It's hard to get one at this early date!!!

    Hmmm
    Seems like an echo from the first days of the RPi.
    Google searching tells us that 5 million have been sold as of early 2015.

    Lots of high margin RPi cases and cables sold too.

    Fear not... there will long be a market for bare metal microprocessors.

    And to note: The Nucleo and Freedom boards are not primarily targeting consumers, students, home tinkers. They're loss leaders of course, for big design wins.
    Last edited by stevech; 11-27-2015 at 01:25 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by sumotoy View Post
    This morning on an Italian newspaper... "Here's a computer for 5 US...", journalist here going silly.
    I really think that this type of products have very small to do with stuff like teensy or early arduino's, I own several pi but I'm mainly use for stuff like OpenCV,server or heavy media handle, it's impossible substitute my teensy for time critical stuff, interfaces, etc., fur such type of things I don't need an OS and a 2A/5V supply! I own also a UDOO quad, the idea was great, a powerful CPU plus a DUE microcontroller in the same board but because poor support and many other problems (like horrible wifi, weird integration of the SAM and not last the cost) now it's catching dust in the library.
    absolutely yes! I found in many shop's here in Italy, evaporated in some hours, but what a surprise, they still have it in budget pack or starter pack at the same price of a pi2 or even more! A friend of one of these shops told me that they are selling a lot of budget pack because the people cannot order the single board, and of course the budget pack it's overpriced for what you get!

    Please noooooooo! You are my hero and things like teensy are diamonds, think about how many projects are drived by Teensy! Just the stuff I have seen around with leds it's possible only by using a fpga that it's not as easy. Now that arduino goes absolutely silly with genuino and totally unsane decisions it remains only Teensy, ESP8266 it's nice, surprisely powerful and unbeatable cheap but doesn't have essential stuff like a serious SPI, a real I2C, GPIO's, etc., it's a nice tiny gadget very useful for play with wifi and get some nice gadget, before ESP add a wifi was costing a fortune and uses too much resources, now that have an almost workable IDE platform people use as standalone but even that it's far away from Teensy.
    You are right when you take time to choose Teensy successor, I have seen the work around this from idea the early time of the first 3.0 (not mention 2 since was another story) and have realized how it's hard, but Paul, you have done an incredible and almost impossible job almost alone (ok, there's some contributors, and happy to say that are all amazing), it's a small community, not big as Arduino or Raspi, but for sure the quality and support of Teensy have NO COMPETITORS and I'm sure you will surprise again everyone with the new Teensy whatever.
    Take me everything but not touch my Teensy 3.1!
    +1
    Support of Teensy have NO COMPETITORS

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    Senior Member sumotoy's Avatar
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    Eh, eh, I'm from Venezia. I would say, IS UNMATCHED, correct?

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    Different stuff for different needs.

    Raspberry needs an OS, with all the pros and cons; I use it a lot for some projects (exp. video-related and security-related), but would never dream of using it for my Teensy projects, because an OS would absolutely getting in the way.
    Plus, Teensy is, well, tiny :-) and this is absolutely important for some of my stuff.
    And finally, power usage.
    I just finished a project which runs entirely by solar power. I could not have done that with a RaspPI (not even this lower-power Zero) because of much higher active power usage and no Powersave modes.

    So... LONG LIVE TEENSY! LONG LIVE PAUL!

    Fernando

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by PaulStoffregen View Post
    Perhaps this is the beginning of the end for microcontrollers in hobbyist electronics? Or perhaps not? I really don't know, but of course I'm watching & listening.
    Dude, c'mon. These low cost computers need USB peripherals. What better than an intelligent, programmable Teensy-based USB peripheral. You just spent a lot of time on your Audio Library tutorial. Why not take the next step and make the Teensy 3.[12]/Audio Adapter a proper USB audio interface? Don't even think about giving up in the microcontroller space, there's possibly even a bigger need for it now. I'm not saying you shouldn't be branching out into the IoT arena (ESP8266-type devices), but think of the children.

    Plenty of us own plenty of products, and I'm sure I speak for most of us that none of those products are better supported than our Teensys. Keep up the excellent work.

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    Senior Member+ Frank B's Avatar
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    Alle these board with OS have a problem. Booting and switching off.
    Booting takes long, and you can't switch power off or reset them any time, as a clean shutdown is needed.
    Both disqualifies them for a lot of use-cases, i think.
    A clear plus is the huge amount of RAM and some things can be done without programming by just installing the right *.deb.
    On the other hand, only a few windows-users can do it without step-by step "howto".
    When the users notice that their SD-Card FS is corrupted the 3rd time, or the card is not working anymore due to much writes, they look for alternatives.
    Then, "realtime" is hard to do on the boards. There are running so many jobs in the background.
    I'd say, that baremetal-programming microcontrollers without OS (and ARDUINO IS baremetal) will have it's place in the world for a long time.

    Edit:
    But, the market will shrink a bit (for hobby-use). More for the less-capable controllers like AVR, less for the better ones like Teensy.
    An pi-addon board in form of a teensy could have much chances, i think.. perhaps with some commonly used periphals like motion-detection, compass, strong outputs and so on..
    Edit:
    + a usb-hub ? :-)
    Last edited by Frank B; 11-27-2015 at 09:11 PM.

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    There are RPi add-on boards with an AVR to simplify doing PWM, Input Capture, A/D, D/A. Might be a 32bit ARM equivalent. The market size for such co-processor ad-on boards is likely small.

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    Well, Adafruit got more RPi Zero boards and took my order. They limited me to 1 board (supply shortages, I guess, or resellers wanting to markup and sell).

    My two RPi boards are on the LAN here, running SMB to access storage for their file on my NAS rather than the SD card. Running headless, and using VNC to the RPI from PC. Have some python code going.
    Last edited by stevech; 11-28-2015 at 01:24 AM.

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    seems likely power hungry for projects running off batteries.

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    Likely, yes.
    Depends on how one programs the MCU sleeping or WFI (wait for interrupt).

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    Senior Member+ MichaelMeissner's Avatar
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    Lightbulb

    In terms of Teensy direct competitors (I tend to think Raspberry Pi plays in a different space than Teensy), I noticed that Adafruit just put out an Arm Cortex M0 in their Feather pin format (16 pins on one side, 12 pins on the other). https://www.adafruit.com/products/2772

    I haven't looked at it in detail yet, but some random thoughts occur to me:

    • There are now 3 different cpu architectures using the feather pinout and framework (ATmega32u4 for most of the feathers, ESP8266 for internet of things/Wifi, and Cortex M0), and a price point of $16 (for the ESP8266) to $20 (for the basic ATmega32u4 and Cortex M0 bodies). Fortunately, Adafruit runs all 3 cpus at 3.3v, and not 5v, so they avoided the trap that some Arduino shields have. But it still will be confusing for users, as to which platform supports which thing (particularly with the ESP8266 supporting far fewer pins);
    • Adafruit is also developing project specific variants (data logger, bluetooth LE/traditional, etc.) as well as feather wings (i.e. shields, capes, etc.);
    • There is no direct debug support on the Feather Cortex unlike the Arduino Zero, but there are solder pads underneath the chip that can connect to the debugger. I'm getting the feeling that coming out with a debug story may be the most important thing on Paul's plate, but I can also see the draw of the Teensy 3.1++ that has more pins;
    • In terms of Teensy, the LC is the obvious competitor, and each side has pluses and minuses;
    • I wonder if the Feather M0 Basic will undercut sales of the more expensive Arduino Zero (and speaking of the Zero, you now have the Raspberry Pi Zero vs. the Arduino Zero).


    In terms of pluses and minuses compared to the LC, I see:
    • Plus for Feather -- having built-in lipo charger, rather than extra cost board from third parties (onehorse or Adafruit) -- but if you aren't using Lipos to power your project, those charger pins take up extra space on the Feather;
    • Plus for LC -- 25 digital inputs vs. 20?;
    • Plus for LC -- 12 analog inputs vs. 6;
    • Plus for LC -- 3 serial UARTs vs. 1;
    • Plus for LC -- both have 1 digital analog output (DAC), but the Adafruit version is only 10 bits, while Teensy (at least 3.1/3.2, not sure about LC) is 12 bits;
    • Plus for LC -- 10 touch inputs vs. 0? (I don't know if the Feather supports touch directly);
    • Maybe plus for Feather -- usable real time clock (but no support for a RTC battery like Teensy 3.0/3.1/3.2 have -- without the battery, I'm not sure how useful the RTC is);
    • Plus for LC -- 2 separate i2c buses compared to 1 i2c bus on the Feather (note both boards require external resistor pull-ups);
    • Plus for LC -- 2 separate SPI buses compared to 1 SPI bus on the Feather;
    • Plus for LC -- I2S support;
    • Maybe plus for Feather -- debugger support via underneath pads (depends on whether people pick up on it);
    • Plus for Feather -- PWM on all pins vs. 10 pins on LC
    • Plus for Feather -- Regulator can produce 500mAh vs. 120mAh;
    • Plus for LC -- one pin (A3) can support driving 5v devices like neopixels vs. none on Feather;
    • Plus for Feather -- Interrupts can be attached to any pin vs. 18 on the LC;
    • Plus for LC -- You can order IC_MKL04Z32_TQFP32/IC_MKL02Z32_QFN16 bootloader chips so that you can make your own custom board;
    • Possible plus for LC -- the LC has a 128 bytes of EEPROM, and I don't think either the Feather board nor the Arduino Zero have EEPROM. However, Paul has said the write cycles on the LC are very limited, so you might want to use it for 1 time data and not to store things that are updated routinely;
    • Possible plus for the Feather -- there is a pin to disable the 3.3v regulator. I'm not how that is useful;
    • Plus for LC -- LC is slightly smaller, and all pins can be connected to the quarter sized perma-proto and the small mint tin perma-proto boards (15 pins per side). Both will fit on the 17 row mini-breadboards that are available at many sellers;
    • Plus for the LC -- it is cheaper than the Feather ($12 vs. $20);
    • Plus for the LC -- if you are solder challenged, you can order the LC (and 3.2) with the outside pins soldered on to the board.


    As Adafruit rolls out featherwings other than protoshields, it may be a useful exercise to provide a PCB that maps Teensy pins to Feather.

    And note, the name is "Feather M0 Basic", which implies some time in the future there will be a more advanced version.

    <edit>
    Of course if you go by price alone, you might want to compare the Teensy 3.2 to the Feather M0 Basic:
    • Plus for Teensy 3.2 -- 20 analog pins vs. 6;
    • Plus for Teensy 3.2 -- 34 digital pins vs. 20;
    • Plus for Teensy 3.2 -- Octows2811 adapter for driving massive amounts of WS2812's/neopixels;
    • Plus for Teensy 3.2 -- Audio adapter shield and awesome audio library;
    • Plus for Teensy 3.2 -- Cortex M4 instruction support;
    • Plus for Teensy 3.2 -- Runs at 96Mhz, with ability to over and underclock;
    • Plus for Teensy 3.2 -- most pins are 5v tolerant (not all though);
    • Plus for Teensy 3.2 -- Real time clock that can be powered with a coin cell battery when the main chip has no power;
    • Plus for Teensy 3.2 -- 2k of EEPROM space;
    • Plus for Teensy 3.2 -- CAN bus support;
    • Several of the pluses for Feather are still pluses against the 3.2 (possible debug support; PWM on all pins; 500mAh regulator vs. 250mAh, etc.).
    Last edited by MichaelMeissner; 11-28-2015 at 05:56 AM.

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    Plus for LC - 8-16 bit PWM resolution. I don know any other board that makes that as accessible as the Teensy boards.

    Many of the may have the hardware but no one has written the software to access these features.

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    The beat goes on...
    The Atmel D21 board (an M0) is $19 from Adafruit. (I'm reluctant when it comes to Atmel and ARM and Dialog)
    The Particle.io Photon board with Broadcom's WiFi SoC and 1MB flash is $19 from Adafruit. I'm enjoying running "Viper" (a nice microPython port) on this board, with lots of libraries despite the board's youth, due to multi-platform microPython. Timing/DMA done in C libs called from Python. They say you can write your own drivers in C and place code within the same project file set. Runs ChbiOS RTOS for Python threads and non-blocking I/O threads.

    T3 and LC are focused on different needs.
    Last edited by stevech; 11-28-2015 at 04:45 AM.

  24. #24
    Senior Member+ MichaelMeissner's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Headroom View Post
    Plus for LC - 8-16 bit PWM resolution. I don know any other board that makes that as accessible as the Teensy boards.

    Many of the may have the hardware but no one has written the software to access these features.
    I had forgotten about that. Given it just came out, we'll have to see what the support levels will be for new library releases from Adafruit. Paul is a very hard act to follow in this regard.
    Last edited by MichaelMeissner; 11-28-2015 at 04:45 AM.

  25. #25
    Senior Member PaulStoffregen's Avatar
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    Adafruit has a long history of narrowly focused libraries for peripherals they sell, but not so much developing the core library software. Even with bootloaders, they've mostly copied Arduino, LUFA, Optiboot, rather than developed their own. They may surprise me and develop code like analogWriteFrequency() for Zero/Feather/M0, but I don't think that's likely.

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