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 code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, or even use Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for MakeCode, CircuitPython, 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.