Gertboards and microcontrollers

Last month, when I found my Raspberry Pi again and started this blog, I had a look around the web to see what was happening in the world of Raspberry Pi. One of the things I kept bumping into was the "Gertboard" - an almost mythical input/output expansion board, named after Gert van Loo, its designer. Apparently a small number had been made available in kit form, then withdrawn while the community held its breath and waited.

I recently got a notification from Farnell that the new batch of pre-assembled Gertboards were available, so I quickly ordered one, and it arrived today.

I was impressed how many "goodies" came with the Gertboard. some jumper cables and links, some little plastic "legs" to stop it bending when balanced on the Raspberry Pi, some introductory paperwork and a CD of development tools.

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Naturally I couldn't resist looking around the Farnell web site while I was placing the order, and my eye was caught by a Freescale 'Freedom' board with an embedded ARM-based microcontroller (Cortex M0+) and a bunch of peripherals and IO inclusing USB, 3-axis accellerometer, capacitive touch slider, three-colour LED and so on. It comes on an Arduino-compatible board, and all for just £8.30 - less than I paid for the Raspberry Pi real-time clock module I fitted yesterday.

I think the Gertboard and the Freescale Freedom make an interesting combination and comparison. They both have a bunch of different I/O and a microcontroller, and they can both be connected to the Raspberry Pi (although the Gertboard is probably easier, it just plugs straight into the GPIO header).

I probably ought to stop buying stuff and get on with using some of these toys, though...

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