We’re always on the lookout for cool new prototyping technologies to fold into our work. Arduino-based tools are one of our staple platforms since they are fast to setup while still being easy to extend (there are currently more than ten different sizes and configurations of Arduino) and share with clients for further development.
We got our hands on a couple of Teensy and Teensy++ 2.0 development boards a few months ago, and these guys are incredibly small for all the functionality they provide. They are Arduino-like (small, simple, can be programmed via Arduino software over USB with an add-on, and use an Atmel microcontroller), but also provide some additional features. Instead of an off-board FTDI serial controller, the microcontroller has built in USB for programming; this frees up the chip’s serial port for other uses and also gives the Teensy the ability to emulate other USB devices (such as keyboard and mouse). The Teensy still uses standard 0.1 inch pin spacing for breadboarding, but includes 25 I/O pins (and 45 on the Teensy++) within a very small footprint. There’s also more PWM, memory, and analog inputs than the other small-form Arduinos.
Teensy is mostly open source (you can check out some code snippets, schematic, and PCB footprint, but not the full component layout or codebase), so you once you get your hand on some parts you can use them in new and unusual ways. We’ve been experimenting with some add-ons for Teensy and look forward to sharing them with you in future posts.
In the meantime, we encourage you to check out Teensy (as well as other new microcontroller platforms) for projects that demand smaller sizes, higher pin counts, and USB device capabilities, but otherwise stick with Arduino (and keep that warm fuzzy feeling that hardware modifications are encouraged) when possible.