There are plenty of good options to get started.
The Internet of Things, or IoT, is already a reality. You are probably using one (or more) IoT devices right now, or at least taking advantage of one. And this market is only going to grow.
Generally speaking, the Internet of Things is a network of physical objects that allows these objects to create and share data.
According to some studies, in 2021 there were 25 billion IoT devices in the world, and by 2025 this figure will reach about 64 billion (and the market size will be 11 trillion dollars). From agriculture to home automation, every sector is using the IoT to help their business.
Not so long ago, the data that we had was created manually by a person. If they were created at all. But no matter how hard we try, all people have limits on how much data we can get. With the creation of the Internet and the development of technology, a large amount of data can be collected to help any business grow.
Whether you are using a device to determine the best time to water your plant or a person is weak and needs medical support, the IoT will become more and more a part of our lives.
What is a Development Board?
The Development Board is a printed circuit board containing a microcontroller or microprocessor with hardware to assist in your experiments. It can contain various peripheral devices, from sensors to power supplies.
This board will generalize and implement some features that will make you focus only on programming and applications and not on the hardware itself. This is a great help during the product development phase, especially if you want to discover new possibilities or learn about technology.
Features to consider:
Sensors: Some development boards come with built-in sensors already connected to the main controller. This can save you the time it takes to sort out all the necessary connections.
Connectivity: These are the options you need to connect with the world, such as WiFi, Cellular, Ethernet, etc.
Interfaces: protocols or pins that need to be connected to other components and equipment such as I2C, GPIO, SPI, etc.
Software: parameters required for program development, such as OS (operating system), IDE, programming languages, etc.
Controller: What are the capabilities of the CPU such as memory, storage, speed, etc.
In this article, I’ll walk you through 10 development boards you can use to get started building IoT products.
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Produced by Espressif, this board is one of the most used to create an IoT product. It has built-in Bluetooth (v4.2 and v5.0) and WiFi so you don’t need any other module to start communicating with the world.
Equipped with a dual-core Xtensa microcontroller, can be overclocked to 240 MHz and has 520Kb of random access memory (RAM). It has a good amount of GPIO (with various 12-bit ADC channels), with support for I2C, SPI and UART protocols. Designed for portable and mobile devices, it has low power consumption and is capable of operating over a wide temperature range.
You can develop with the Arduino IDE using your own SDK, or even another RTOS.
It has a relatively low price, ranging from $6 to $12.
In essence, this is a computer with a pre-installed Linux-based system, which increases the possibilities of using programming languages and libraries. The computer is powered by a 580MHz MT7688 SoC, WiFi and Ethernet are available.
It has 128MB RAM and 32GB Flash, so when it comes to IoT, that’s a lot. With 18 GPIOs, it supports I2C, SPI and UART protocols.
The lack of an analog input can be solved with an expansion board or an I2C converter.
It costs about $13.
Arduino Nano 33 BLE Sense
More recently, a new development board has appeared – this is the great Arduino Nano 33 BLE Sense. It is equipped with a Nordic nrf52840 chip, supports Bluetooth 5.0, WiFi and ZigBee.
It has a clock speed of 64 MHz, 1 MB Flash memory and 256 KB RAM. With 14 GPIOs, it also supports SPI, I2C and UART protocols.
Comes with a series of built-in sensors (9-axis inertial device, humidity, temperature, barometric, microphone, proximity and light sensor), so you don’t need to buy another board to start creating an attractive application.
The main feature of this board, in addition to an impressive selection of sensors, is the ability to run Edge Computing (AI) applications using TinyML on it. And of course, you can use all of the Arduino and Nordic software support for development.
It costs $31.
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Adafruit Feather M0
Adafruit has a lot of breakout boards, so if you’re a DYI enthusiast, be sure to check them out.
His Feather M0 board is no exception. Equipped with a 48 MHz ARM processor with 256 KB FLASH + 32 KB RAM memory, it is specially designed for use with CircuitPython. Yes, you can use Python to program your IoT board!
With 20 GPIOs, comes with support for ADC (12-bit), SPI, I2C and UART. And you can learn how to use it with the great tutorials from Adafruit.
It costs about $20.
If you want to develop a cellular device, you should consider this board first. It is equipped with a Nordic nrf52840 chip, so WiFi and Bluetooth support are also included in the package.
It has 20 GPIOs (with 6 analog channels), with support for SPI, I2C and UART protocols.
But its main feature is the mobile module (2G/3G), which comes with a SIM card with support for more than 100 countries.
You can also use the Arduino IDE for programming.
One of the drawbacks is the relatively high cost, around $80.
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Arduino MKR NB 1500
If you intend to start with a narrowband Narrowband IoT type of communication, then you can use this board. It is equipped with a low-power 32-bit ARM processor with a frequency of 48 MHz, has up to 32 KB RAM + 256 KB Flash memory.
It has 28 GPIOs, with UART, SPI and I2C interfaces and 12-bit analog inputs. The package includes an IoT LTE radio that can be used to build the app (check availability in your area).
And you can use the entire Arduino environment to program your device.
It costs $77.