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  1. SBCs / Interface Tools

SBCs / Interface Tools

Having a few generic embedded interface tools in your toolkit is always a good idea. I am a big fan of using embedded Linux SBCs due to their flexibility and the fact that you have an entire OS at your disposal, which can open up opportunities to use your favorite programming language to interact with the standard peripherals. One of the most common Linux-based SBCs, the Raspberry Pi, has been difficult to acquire over the last few years. Luckily, the Armbian project supports other boards, such as the Orange Pi Zero 2 and the Orange Pi 4 LTS. You may not always require a fully featured OS, and you just need a tool that can talk to peripherals. In this case, having FT2232H-based boards, such as the generic breakouts and things like the Tigard, will also come in handy. While the FT2232H is a well known, classic interface IC, the RP2040 is quickly gaining popularity due to its ease of use and availability. The Buspirate, a classic embedded Swiss army knife, recently released a new version that the RP2040 powers (Note that the Link below is for just the PCB and not for the entire product)

Item Price Link Usage
FT2232H Breakout Board $14.95 Link Generic interface board, capable of SPI, I2C, UART, etc
Arduino Nano $24.90 Link Generic board for learning embedded programming and protocols
BusPirate $27.85 (PCB Only) Link Universal Open Source Hacking Tool
Orange Pi Zero 2 $35.99 Link Low power general purpose Linux SBC, supported by Armbian
Tigard $49.00 Link Open source FT2232H-based, multi-protocol, multi-voltage tool for hardware hacking.
Orange Pi 4 LTS $77.90 Link Linux based SBC, supported by Armbian