It’s the SW, Stupid!

I came across this article from Jim Turley at Electronic Engineering Journal today, and it really brought home a point that I’ve harped on many times before: When the Silicon Doesn’t Matter.

Not enough silicon vendors understand the importance of the hobbyist and hacker community out there.  Having worked on both sides of the chasm that seperates hobbyists and silicon vendors, I can say with conviction that bridges between the two are few and far between, and it’s hard to get on the radar of anyone in apps engineering (support) or marketting for less than 1M chips … 100K is peanuts, even if that feels huge to a small to medium-sized company.

While that makes sense from a short-term dollars and cents perspective, it’s suicide longer term if you’re producing general purpose MCUs that aren’t tailored to a very specific and clearly understood need.  General-purpose chips succeed longer term because people talk about them, publish problems and solutions online, and all this pushes people to choose those chips precisely because they perceive that there is support out there for them and they’re not alone.  You can have the best technical solutions out there, but if you don’t have a decent community you’re only going to make problems for yourself longer term and have to compete on far more unfavorable terms with everyone else.  Get the right hobbyists in your camp, and 1/3 of your probems are already solved with general purposes MCUs.  I’ve seen it first hand in both good and bad examples, and with time I’m only more convinced it’s true.

Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.

Join 35,000+ makers on Adafruit’s Discord channels and be part of the community!

Have an amazing project to share? The Electronics Show and Tell is every Wednesday at 7pm ET! To join, head over to YouTube and check out the show’s live chat – we’ll post the link there.

Join us every Wednesday night at 8pm ET for Ask an Engineer!

Follow Adafruit on Instagram for top secret new products, behinds the scenes and more

CircuitPython – The easiest way to program microcontrollers –

Maker Business — Moving manufacturing out of China

Wearables — Read this before mixing wearables and water

Electronics — Signature required?

Python for Microcontrollers — Python on Microcontrollers Newsletter: CircuitPython Day Friday, Python Still #1 and much more! #CircuitPython @micropython @ThePSF @Raspberry_Pi

Adafruit IoT Monthly — Detect Radiation, ML Baby Monitor, and more!

Microsoft MakeCode — MakeCode Thank You!

EYE on NPI — Maxim’s Himalaya uSLIC Step-Down Power Module #EyeOnNPI @maximintegrated @digikey

New Products – Adafruit Industries – Makers, hackers, artists, designers and engineers! — JP’s Product Pick of the Week 8/16/22 Step Switches with LEDs @adafruit @johnedgarpark #adafruit #newproductpick

Get the only spam-free daily newsletter about wearables, running a "maker business", electronic tips and more! Subscribe at !

1 Comment

  1. Exactly. Atmel v.s. Microchip. One has an opensource GPL toolchain including debuggers and things like avrdude and avrice fully supported and maintained, the other is at best an afterthought.

    Even the best windows-only captive, limited software won’t work.

    I started with Arduinos, moved to bare AVR, then to attinys. On linux.

    The vendors don’t have to do much, just provide data, and a bit of support.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.