Beyond the Arduino

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For several years now, Arduino has been the go-to name for Maker, hobbyist and DIY pro electronics enthusiasts. Its vast support network, simplicity, low-cost, and ease-of-use has made it equally at home in projects ranging from robotics platforms and vending machines, to interactive museum displays and art installations. But with the growing demands of the Internet of Things (IoT) and the boom of the connected device, more and more SBCs (single-board computers) are finding their way into projects.

Indeed, it’s no longer enough to build a vending machine that grabs gifts and dispenses them. The vending machine must connect to a web interface that allows users all over the globe to control the claw, and the machine then has to communicate with an API to let the world know when someone has successfully grabbed a toy – and do all of it in real time. It can all be a bit complicated — and necessitates a development platform with a bit more “oomph” and a lot more in the way of connectivity. 

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That’s where products like the new DragonBoard 410c from Arrow come into play. While it is certainly possible to get an Arduino Uno connected to the net (there are hundreds of tutorials telling you how), additional hardware is required and it’s not always the easiest task. On the other hand, the DragonBoard 410c is one of the few SBCs that has WiFi connectivity baked right in. Getting hooked up to the World Wide Web is as simple as joining the nearest wireless network. But connectivity is just scratching the surface of why more folks are turning to SBCs as the brains behind their prototypes as well as their permanent installations. Take a look at the specs:

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First off, let’s get one thing straight — the Arduino Uno is not in the same category as the DragonBoard 410c. The Uno is not an SBC (and it’s not meant to be). But as demands increase for UX and graphics interfaces, and connected devices become the rule (not the exception), single-board computers like the DragonBoard 410c are making a name for themselves as the hearts of thousands of projects. 

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DragonBoard 410C

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With stats like those above, it’s easy to see why a DragonBoard 410c performs better as the brains behind connected devices. A GB of RAM, 8GB of flash storage (that can be expanded via the built-in microSD slot), and a choice of a variety of operating system ensure the DragonBoard 410c has more than enough power for even the most complex builds. 

With all that said, the Arduino is often admired for its simplicity, and there are some applications where the Arduino Uno really shines. Things like reading sensors or driving LEDs are right in the Uno’s wheelhouse — and while a DragonBoard 410c is certainly capable of such tasks, the code required to do so might make an Uno the a better choice. 

However, one of the great aspects of the DragonBoard 410c is that it’s designed to play nice with Arduino. By simply using an Arduino add-on mezzanine board, you can get the incredible processing power of the DragonBoard 410c, coupled with the simplicity of the Arduino — it’s the best of both worlds.

At the end of the day, the Arduino will always have a home in the electronics world. But as demands increase for computing power, connectivity, and graphics processing capabilities, single-board computers like the DragonBoard 410c will find themselves at the hearts of more and more designs. 

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