Big thanks and shoutout to Public Lab’s user cfastie for their ‘notes’ about our own line of Feather development boards and FeatherWings. Because of Public Lab’s penchant for citizen science they’re specifically looking at our boards for the purpose of datalogging – the pros and cons for various deployments in the field.
Two years ago, Adafruit introduced a new line of Arduino compatible microcontroller boards. The Adafruit Feather boards were intended to be an upgrade from the typical Arduino boards used by hobbyists and create a new standard of power, usability, and expandability. They were designed by Limor Fried who knew the types of things people did with Arduino boards, having designed and manufactured hardware for the hobby and educational communities for a decade.
There are now more than two dozen different Feather boards with different components including radios and microSD socket. They are all the same compact size–a little bigger than an Arduino Nano–which provides enough space to include an accessory component directly on the board. They all have the same set of pins which standardizes connections. Many components can be connected by using FeatherWings–snap-on “shields” with components such as GPS receivers, clocks, motor controllers, displays, and relays. There are about three dozen different Featherwings which can be snapped on to almost any Feather. Other hardware, including environmental sensors, can be connected the same way you connect them to standard Arduinos.
One of the things Limor Fried knew people did with Arduinos was make dataloggers to collect and save environmental or other data from sensors. So there are several Feathers and FeatherWings to make this easy. I have been trying to figure out how these Feather-based dataloggers compare to dataloggers assembled from standard Arduinos and to dedicated Arduino-based loggers like the Riffle or Mayfly Data Logger. There are still some big gaps in my understanding of these loggers, so please let me know if you notice something I missed.
All Feather boards do not have the same processor. The first Feather was built around the Atmega 32u4, and had about the same processing power as a standard Arduino (Table 1). A month later, in December 2015, the Feather M0 (M zero) was announced with several times the speed, memory, and power. The Feather M0 is a substantial upgrade from the typical Arduino or the 32u4 Feather and probably has more power than is needed for basic datalogging. Some Feathers have even bolder processors including the formidable ESP8266 with integrated WiFi and one or two orders of magnitude more processing power than the Apollo Guidance Computer that went to the moon and back (really).
And today is also Feather Friday here at Adafruit! For one day only we’re offering 20% off all Feather products – as well as 15% off all products in the store. If you’re inclined to do some datalogging or citizen science projects now’s the time to pick up your Feathers and ‘Wings!