Dorkboard and Arduino

Arduino comes with everything needed, built-in

Today on Reddit someone asked me what the differences are between Dorkboard and Arduino — why do I recommend that beginners should start with the latest Arduino board (currently the Uno)? Here’s what I wrote:

  • Each has an LED hard-wired to pin 13 for basic testing. The Dorkboard, however, does it the opposite from Arduino: counter-intuitively, it must be set HIGH to turn off, and LOW to turn on. I haven’t been able to get an answer why this is, although I have a guess. At any rate, this design choice has a couple ramifications: (1) Any Arduino programs (“sketches”) you use must be changed to reflect this difference in function. (2) All sketches you write must first start with two lines of code to turn this light off — otherwise, it’s on (LOW) by default.
  • The Arduino “standard” simplifies and reorganizes the pin numbers and names of the underlying Atmega-xx8 chip. Books and the programming language use this Arduino notation. Arduino boards have this nomenclature written directly on them so you can see what to connect to. The Dorkboard, however, doesn’t have this, and so instead you’re using the underlying Atmega layout. Therefore, you’ll come to know and love this pin mapping diagram. It’s necessary to use the Dorkboard with any Arduino tutorials.
  • The Dorkboard is designed to be as small and minimal as possible

    Several other things as well: e.g. the Arduino has the USB connection built-in. The Dorkboard needs an external one which must be bought/purchased separately. This is because the Dorkboard is designed to be as small as possible for embedding into a project.

Bottom line, the Dorkboard is good for someone with electronics and programming background. It’s good after first using a standard Arduino for learning, when you then want to make a permanent installation of one of your ideas.