The open-source Arduino micro-controller is a very useful piece of kit which has been implemented by hackers to power countless endeavors from Musical Umbrellas to Angry Birds Slingshot Controllers. For some projects however, the flexibility of the Arduino can be overkill and it's this issue which prompted Digispark to create a simpler, cheaper alternative - a tiny Arduino-compatible developmental circuit board that costs as little as US$12.
Portland native Erik Kettenburg was inspired to build a smaller and cheaper “Arduino-lite” after becoming frustrated with needing to harvest former projects to retrieve his Arduino board. Digispark aims to keep the price low so that it can be practical for hackers to own multiple units, leaving the diminutive open-source device in a previous project, while still able to begin another.
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Digispark sports many of the benefits which have made the Arduino a popular choice with hackers worldwide and it can be used for a variety of purposes, drawing power either from USB or an external source. The device can be programmed with the Arduino IDE (or integrated development environment) and will even run existing Arduino code, giving Digispark the potential to be very flexible, in the right hands.
The all-important technical specifications are as follows:
- Support for the Arduino IDE 1.0+ (OSX/Win/Linux)
- Power via USB or External Source - 5 V or 7-35 V (automatic selection)
- On-board 500ma 5 V Regulator
- Built-in USB (and serial debugging)
- 6 I/O Pins (2 are used for USB only if your program actively communicates over USB, otherwise you can use all 6 even if you are programming via USB)
- 8k Flash Memory (about 6k after bootloader)
- I2C and SPI (vis USI)
- PWM on 3 pins (more possible with Software PWM)
- ADC on 4 pins
- Power LED and Test/Status LED (on Pin0)
The Digispark Kickstarter project has already exceeded its initial goal of $5,000 and as of writing currently sits at over $91,000, with 20 days still left to go.
The promo video below features Digispark creator Erik Kettenburg explaining the device and making his pitch.