LeoStick Dev Kit Review - The Tiny Arduino Clone
So there are lots of development boards out now. And since the introduction of the Arduino there are lots of clones around too which is good in my view. So this is what I have to say is the smallest development kit I have come across so far, The Freetronics LeoStick.
For just $29.95 this is in the pocket money area for cost, or a round of pints. The board runs on a Atmel ATmega32u4. The LeoStick is all you would expect from a Arduino clone with 4 analog inputs and 14 digital I/Os along with all the 3v3 and 5volt access oh and a Piezo on the back. LEDs however have a little bit extra to offer. There are two tri / RGB LEDs. Once acting as the power / RX / TX connection. The other is connected to three of the digital outputs. However the thing that makes the LeoStick standout is its design.
The board is a little thicker than normal as the end of the board is a USB connector. Thats is PCB is the connector that will plug straight into your computer so no cables needed! But what was it like to use?
Well first off I downloaded the standard Arduino 1.0 environment. There are then instructions on how you can download and update the environment so that you can ‘just’ select the LeoStick from the list of boards. You will also need to download the LeoStick USB drivers. This does make it compatible and very easy to use. However was a tiny bit of a fiddle to do. Not difficult at all, just not what I was expecting that's all.
I played around with a couple of example programs and it all worked really well. The RGB LEDs are really bright, however I found the Piezo a little annoying, this was mainly because everyone kept telling me to turn it off. It was a bit harsh a tone lets say.
The board comes with a nice guide that’s easy to follow and gets you going straight out the bag. You will also get a header for the ICSP header, something most people don't do, and two connectors for the sides of the board. None are soldered in so you will have to fit these yourself not making the kit solderless.
The connectors are header sockets making it just like the Arduino, However I would have liked to plug it into a breadboard. So not having the connectors not fitted means I can fit what I want to have on the board, so I like that. However the cableless design has a floor. Yes its very cool and makes this tiny board look ready good. However I can’t use it while it's in the side of my PC, so I used a USB extension cable - not something people will have to hand. So maybe the coolness would have been better replaced with a more practical USB mini connector? However its a really nice little board and expect to see people using these.
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