Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Uno32 - A Cheaper and Better Arduino

If you’re looking for a solid new Arduino with better specs, then you should check out the ChipKIT Uno32 by Digilent. The Uno 32 has over double the regular Uno’s IO pins (20 vs 42), a much faster processing speed(16MHz vs 80MHz), and a massive amount of flash memory (32k vs 128k). I recently bought one to test it out, so let’s dive into the review. ( If you want a head start preview, check it out HERE)

The major difference between the Uno and the Uno32 is their operating voltages. The Arduino Uno operates at 5v while the Uno32 at 3.3v(Don’t worry though! The Uno32 still has a 5v output pin for your projects). The only issue because of this, is shield compatibility. Some Arduino shields won’t work with 3.3v, but can be rigged to using a transistor and a pull-up resistor. Also, all of the I/O pins are safe for 5v input, just in case you forget (which I have to admit I did...quite a few times). To find out if your shield can be used, go HERE.

Ease of Use
The Uno32 operates almost exactly as a regular Arduino. The IDE looks the same as Arduino’s, and all of the example programs are able to be used on the 32’. The setup and programming all work exactly the same as the regular Uno as well...Honestly there is no obvious difference.

The Uno32 has tons of advantages besides the obvious ones I stated in the beginning. The Uno32 has many more user controlled LEDs, as well as more indication LEDs (ex: USB data LEDs). There are also multiple jumpers across the top of the board that can change whether the board is an SPI Master/Slave, if a pin can be used as PWM output, or even if the 5v output goes through the voltage regulator or not (could be handy for some AC signals?). There is also a huge forum dedicated to the Uno32. Having professionals at your disposal is always an advantage!

Besides the 3.3v operating voltage, there are two more drawbacks that you should know before buying the Uno32. The Uno 32 has 1 less PWM output than the Arduino. Pin 11 cannot be used as one because of the actual limitations of the chip. Also, not every port on the Uno32 can be used as interrupts, only a few (not a big deal considering I rarely use more than 1 anyways in my projects).

The ChipKIT Uno32 sells for £17.99 at Farnell, which is less than $25 USD. This makes the Uno32 CHEAPER than the Arduino Uno (Yes, at least double Arduino’s specs, at a cheaper price)...A pretty obvious buy for anyone looking into buying a new microprocessor.

I highly recommend ChipKIT’s Uno32 to anyone looking into an Arduino replacement - 5/5 gears!

-Example Video Coming Soon-

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