View Full Version : What do small electronics use instead of arduino?

01-11-2016, 08:47 PM
I have used arduino for many small projects and I began to wonder what companies producing small electronics use as the brains for it. Its not like they are stuffing an arduino board into them. I have an arduino project im working on that uses an led to signal status, a laser diode, and a photo resistor. If this were to be turned into a small electronic, what would be used? Obviously, the photo resistor, led, and laser diode would be used but how would it all go together without an arduino to do the brain work. when the photo resistor sees the laser, it turns on the led. Just curious how things are done in the real world. Thanks for any insight.

01-11-2016, 10:58 PM
The Arduino board contains a number of things:

1) A microcontroller chip.
2) The large DIP package of the microcontroller chip (the 28-pin IC you can remove and/or replace on Arduino Uno boards)
3) Interface electronics to let you program the chip, interface with the world, power it from various voltages, etc.
4) A lot of empty space, for "historical" reasons.

If you just need to drop a microcontroller into a design, you'd typically use the same kind of microcontroller chip, but in a smaller package (anything from TQFP to chips epoxied straight onto circuit boards.) You'd also typically use a little bit of surface-mount voltage regulators to power it, and whatever else is needed to interface with whatever the chip is talking to.

Also, the AVR microcontroller is okay for a small 8-bit microcontroller; it's very easy to program even at the register/device level (without using the Arduino libraries.) However, there are many other microcontroller "families" -- the most common one is ARM, which has a small version (Cortex M0 through Cortex M4) that can be both cheaper and higher performance than the AVR. And, as a bonus, it's the same kind of CPU as found in cell phones (Cortex A54 and such) so they can share more tools and libraries.