We lead busy lives, sometimes as makers more than the rest. Hopping from work, home, hackerspaces, and Maker Faires can make keeping your gear together tough. The SparkFun RedStick is an Arduino Uno compatible dev board in the form factor of a USB stick, perfect for developing on-the-go.
There are countless boards on the market today, all of them with their pluses and minuses, but the board with the largest amount of example code and community support is without a doubt, the Arduino Uno. Making the RedStick compatible with the Uno on the software makes developing with this board easy. While the RedStick doesn’t have the same layout as the Uno, it arranges the standard Arduino pins (Digital 0-13 and Analog 0-5) in a breadboard compatible layout. If you are not using a breadboard, there are a few bonus pins waiting for you too — including two extra analog inputs. The board includes a handy extra if you want to power it from battery, with a header ready for a JST connector to be soldered to it too.
Of course for me, the real standout with the RedStick is the built-in USB interface. When developing on the go, needing to have a USB cable or other accessories can get annoying. The RedStick plugs directly into your computer’s USB port and has a built-in FTDI chip to handle the USB to TTL serial conversion. I loved that I was able to just pull the RedStick out of the box, plug it in, and get coding for it in the Arduino IDE without any extra setup or accessories.
I would love to see a RedStick L come out that is based on the ATmega32u4, the same chip that is used in the Arduino Leonardo. The ATmega32u4 can mimic other USB devices — not just serial — and could be put into a mode to show up as a keyboard or MIDI device for lots of additional fun projects.
If you are a maker on the move, consider adding a RedStick to your arsenal of boards. The form factor can’t be beat, and at $19.95, it won’t break the bank to have an on-the-go board.