One name that regularly crops up in the list of accessories for boards is Adafruit Industries. The company was founded by Limor Fried, who is an electrical engineer and a strong open source advocate. She has built a company that, as well as selling add-ons for Raspberry Pi, Arduino and BeagleBoard, also sells a fantastic range of kits for hobbyists, including a load of wearable electronics. Prom Tiara with multiple LEDs, anyone?
Return of the hobbyist
This is not an exclusive listing; there are other boards, but these seem to be the leaders. When you look at the numbers, you can see a fantastic number of people getting themselves involved in hobbyist hacking (in the positive sense) of hardware and software. It is also clear that engineering professionals have embraced these boards, for fun at home (well, engineers are different), for use in skunk works projects, and as the basis for commercial production. The large communities that have developed around the boards provide both support and stimulation. Are we looking at the replacement to Radio Shack for the 21st century?
Make a robot friend with Adafruit’s CRICKIT – A Creative Robotics & Interactive Construction Kit. It’s an add-on to our popular Circuit Playground Express, FEATHER and other platforms to make and program robots with CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. Start controlling motors, servos, solenoids. You also get signal pins, capacitive touch sensors, a NeoPixel driver and amplified speaker output. It complements & extends your boards so you can still use all the goodies on the microcontroller, now you have a robotics playground as well.
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Interesting to see a summary of the board types out there, written in an unbiased manner – that’s not always the case.
But the hobbyists haven’t “returned”, because they never went away. Where do you think Linux and a significant amount of the software that runs under it came from? Or the freeware/shareware that’s been available for PCs for the past 30+ years?
Even though the article didn’t discuss it, the “hardware hobbyists” didn’t disappear either – the reason the more well-known hobbyist magazines went away (which might imply the loss of their target audience) wasn’t because hardware hobbyists went away, but because the magazine owners decided that they wanted to get in on the so-called PC revolution and changed their publications to become “me too” PC magazines.