Esplora development board (via Arduino)
Looking to start your OSHW (Open Source Hardware) project using an Arduino board but don’t have extensive knowledge on working with the micro-controller? Perhaps the recently released Arduino Esplora is right up your alley. The new board is targeted for beginners entering the world of Arduino micro-controllers without the need for super-human soldering skills or working with intricate breadboards, or you just don't want to bother with the hardware side. The Esplora is actually derived from the Arduino Leonardo. However, the board separates itself from the pack as it comes pre-loaded with built-in sensors, Tinkerkit input and output connections and an included TFT LCD screen connection. Other inclusions built into the board consist of a temperature sensor, accelerometer, linear potentiometer, LDR light sensor, microphone, analog joystick, 4 buttons, reset button and built-in buzzer. Esplora uses the same Atmega32U4 AVR with 16 MHz crystal oscillator microcontroller as the Leonardo, and it features a micro-USB port that’s capable of accepting input devices like a keyboard or mouse. The board also includes 4 status LED’s with green representing power, L (yellow) for connections directly to the micro-controller and RX/TX (also yellow) which indicates whether data is being transmitted or received. An incredible amount of RAM comes installed on the board with a whopping 32KB for the ATmega32u4 as well as a massive 2.5KB of SRAM and 1 KB of EEPROM for all your OSHW needs. The Esplora comes with a preburned bootloader, so no external programming hardware is needed. Another separation from the technical. Of course, In-circuit serial programming can bypass all that.
Esplora sensor and component breakdown (via Arduino)
The board does indeed look like an everyday gaming controller (and can be used like one as well, see the projects page) but it comes with just about everything beginners (and advanced users alike) need to get their projects off the ground. The Esplora Library makes writing software (sketches) for the board in a fairly hand-held way. Some of the example projects look useful. Using it as a PC video game controller as mentioned before, and my favorite being the music creation. I am starting to think a board like this should be how students are introduced to the embedded development world on their academic path.