With thousands of robots out there, it might be hard to navigate among the different products and find the best one for you. That’s why all the RobotShop experts have gathered for you this list of the 5 best microcontrollers.
Don’t forget to check out our other Gift and Best of Guides: The Best Vacuum Robots 2017, The Best Robotics Learning Kit 2017, The Best Drones 2017, The Best Microcontrollers 2017, and The Best Robot Building Kit 2017.
Who is this for?
Microcontrollers are robot brains. Microcontrollers allow the designer to interface sensors and specialized control electronics together (along with anything else required for the project) and contain the overall logic of the robot.
Our pick – Arduino Uno R3 USB Microcontroller
The Arduino Uno is a microcontroller board based on the ATmega328 microchip. It has 14 digital input/output pins (of which 6 can be used as PWM outputs), 6 analog inputs, a 16 MHz crystal oscillator, a USB connection, a power jack, an ICSP header, and a reset button. It contains everything needed to support the microcontroller; simply connect it to a computer with a 1.5m USB Cable Type A to B or power it with an Wall Adapter Power Supply – 9VDC 650mA or DFRobot 7.4V Lipo 2500mAh Battery (Arduino Power Jack) to get started. The Arduino Uno differs from all preceding boards in that it does not use the FTDI USB-to-serial driver chip. Instead, it features the Atmega16U2 programmed as a USB-to-serial converter. “Uno” means one in Italian and is named to mark the upcoming release of Arduino 1.0. The Uno and version 1.0 will be the reference versions of Arduino, moving forward. The Uno is the latest in a series of USB Arduino boards, and the reference model for the Arduino platform.
Our team’s verdict: This microcontroller has been one of our top-selling products and it’s not without reasons! It’s powerful, versatile, reliable, and offers the best bang for the bucks.
Runner-up – Teensy 3.2 USB Microcontroller Development Board
The Teensy 3.2 USB Microcontroller Development Board is a complete USB-based microcontoller development system., in a very small footprint, capable of implementing many types of projects. All programming is done via the USB port. No special programmer is needed, only a standard “Micro B” USB cable and a PC or Macintosh with a USB port. The RAM has quadrupled, from 16K to 64K. While 16K is plenty for nearly all Arduino libraries, 64K allows for more advanced applications. Icons and graphics for color displays and audio effects requiring delays, like reverb and chorus, will become possible on Teensy 3.2. Flash memory has also doubled, to 256K, and provides double the memory bandwidth. Teensy 3.2 has a proper analog output. You can always filter PWM, but true analog output responds rapidly. The output is created by the stable reference voltage, so it’s doesn’t vary if your power supply voltage changes slightly.
Our team’s verdict: The Teensy microcontroller is also a great and powerful microcontroller
Upgrade pick – VEX Cortex Microcontroller
The VEX Cortex Microcontroller is the brain of every VEX robot. It coordinates the flow of all information and power on the robot. It has built in bi-directional communication for wireless driving, debugging and downloading using the state of the art VEXnet 802.11 wireless link.
Our team’s verdict: This microcontroller is the best for VEX products and
Budget pick – Arduino Pro Mini 328 – 5V/16MHz
The Arduino Pro Mini 328 – 5V/16MHz is a 5V Arduino running the 16MHz bootloader. Arduino Pro Mini does not come with connectors populated so that you can solder in any connector or wire with any orientation you need.
Our team’s verdict: This microcontroller is extremely affordable and is a great product if you’re looking for a cheap microcontroller
Also great – Bluno Nano Arduino BLE Bluetooth Microcontroller
The Bluno Nano Arduino BLE Bluetooth Microcontroller is perfect for BLE projects with limited space or weight. Bluno family is first of its kind in intergrating BT 4.0(BLE) module into Arduino Uno, making it an ideal prototyping platform for developers to go wireless. You will be able to develope your own smart bracelet , smart pedometer and more. Through the low-power Bluetooth 4.0 technology, real-time low energy communication can be made really easy. Bluno Nano also integrates a TI CC2540 BT 4.0 chip with the Arduino UNO development board. It allows wireless programming via BLE, supports Bluetooth HID, supports AT command to config the BLE and you can upgrade BLE firmware easily. Bluno is also compatible with all Arduino Uno pins which means any project made with Uno can directly go wireless.
Our team’s verdict: This is also a great option, especially if you have space constraints. And you don’t have to worry about working with other components as it’s compatible with Arduino UNO products.
Looking for more inspiration? Don’t forget to check out our other Gift and Best of Guides: The Best Vacuum Robots 2017, The Best Robotics Learning Kit 2017, The Best Drones 2017,The Best Microcontrollers 2017, and The Best Robot Building Kit 2017.