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I was browsing the Sparkfun web site this week and saw they had added the pcDuino as a new product. At $59USD this looked to be an excellent addition to my ARM based small development boards that run a “real” OS. The pcDuino comes preloaded with Ubuntu Linux and also supports Android.

The pcDuino is positioned as a competitor to the Raspberry Pi and the Beagle Bone. I already own three of the Rasberry Pi boards and am planning on buying a Beagle Bone when the new “black” version is released with lower pricing and hinted at performance enhancements.

Raspberry Pi

I am quite pleased with the Raspberry Pi – particularly the $35USD price point – as a learning platform. The easy to access general purpose I/O pins and available peripheral interface types make it an excellent platform for interface experimentation. It has allowed me to explore I2C and SPI interfacing without the concern of destroying a high priced evaluation board that normally accompanies electronics development. The only limit I have encountered is the board sensitivity to the input power. You must have a high quality 5 volt adapter. If I relied more on the X11 interface, I think the 256MB (512MB on newer boards) memory limit would also be constraining. My first Pi is being used as a home VPN server and has been running without incident for the last 3 months. The other two have been used for experimenting with Python programming and interfacing.

The development community for the Raspberry Pi is fantastic. The forums are active and well managed.


The pcDuino is still very new and the web site and forums are still growing. It will be interesting to watch over the next few months to see if the product and user community develop to their potential. If the response at Sparkfun is an indication, and barring any issues with the hardware, the future is promising. The initial stock of >500 units has sold out in less than one week.

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