So a few months ago, someone(a commentor on this blog actually!) informed me about the Photon, and at first glance I knew I had to get it. As I mentioned in my Beaglebone Black post, I am always looking for new MCU's to play around with so I went ahead and pre-ordered the Photon(for just $19!). Let me tell you this is a great little piece of hardware that I just love.
The first thing i noticed when I unboxed it is that this little device was surprisingly smaller than it looks on the website. And for most projects, smaller is better.
The first thing I had to do was set it up on the wifi network and it was pretty easy as they have a good guide on their website. Once that was finished, I just had to "claim" it and it was ready to go.
I started off with their examples and was amazed by how easy it was to create most basic applications. Let me put it this way, it essentially does everything I talked about in my Webserver Series all in the background. The do enable this using their cloud and I was able to hook it up to my Power strip and control it through their mobile app in minutes!
This was really cool in my book, it just made me realize how easy it would now be to create ANY internet connected application that I would usually need a Raspberry Pi(And a LOT of code) for.
In simpler terms, it is an Internet connected Arduino. And that makes it AWESOME, as networking was my only issue with using my Arduino's.
However, being internet connected has a few drawbacks. The main one for me was that they make you use their IDE(Either on the Cloud or Local), which is just not my thing, and to add on top of that, it requires an internet connection to program it with anything. They do have a way to do it locally with
dfu-util but it will be complicated for most average users and possibly even a deal breaker.
Now, the most important things hackers like me wantr to know. How many GPIO's does this have? Here's a screenshot from the datasheet that should tell you everything you need to know.
Other than the downside of the IDE, I truly feel that this is an amazing device. It is going to enable a lot more people just getting into hardware to create internet connected projects. It has more GPIO available than the Arduino Nano, and the Wi-Fi connectivity definitely justifies the price difference.
In the end, if you want to create a cheap project with internet connectivity, this is by far the best board available, and as long as your use case involves it being in a Wi-Fi environment, you cannot go wrong!