As many of the followers of my blog know, the Teensy 3.1 and Teensy LC have been my favorite microcontroller boards for the past couple of years. The Teensy 3.1 has since been replaced by the slightly better Teensy 3.2, which has a better voltage regulator but is otherwise pretty much the same as the 3.1. I’ve been using the Teensy LC with PteroDAQ software for my electronics course.
I’ve just noticed that PJRC has a Kickstarter campaign for a new set of boards the Teensy 3.5 and 3.6. These will be much more powerful ARM processors (120MHz and 180MHz Cortex M4 processors with floating-point units, so at least 2.5 times faster than the Teensy 3.2, more if floating-point is used much). The form factor is similar to before, but the boards are longer, taking up 24 rows of a breadboard, instead of just 14. The extra board space is mainly to provide more I/O, but there is also a MicroSD card slot.
The designer is still dedicated to making the Teensy boards run in the Arduino environment, and the breadboard-friendly layout is very good for experimenting.
PJRC is positioning the new boards between the old Teensy boards and the Linux-based boards like the Raspberry Pi boards. The new Teensy boards will have a lot of raw power, but not an operating system, though I suspect that people outside PJRC will try porting one of the small real-time operating systems to the board.
The new boards are a bit pricey compared to the Teensy LC ($23–28 instead of under $12 for the Teensy LC), but still reasonable for what they provide. PJRC also has a history of providing good software for their boards.
I probably need to get both a Teensy 3.5 and a 3.6 to port PteroDAQ to them—that looks like a $50 purchase. If the boards and the software are available in time for me do development on PteroDAQ by December, I might get it done—any later than that and I’ll have no time, as I have a very heavy teaching and service load for Winter quarter.
I suspect that the new Teensyduino software will need a newer version of the Arduino development environment, which in turn would require a newer version of the Mac operating system (my laptop is still running 10.6.8), which in turn probably means a new laptop.
I’m waiting to see if Apple releases a new, usable MacBook Pro in October, so there is a bit of built-in delay in the whole process. I’m not impressed with their recent design choices for iPhones and MacBook Air—I need connections to my laptop—so there is a strong possibility that I may be having to leave the Macintosh family of products after having been a loyal user since 1984 (that’s 32 years now).
Update 2016 Sep 27: I just watched the Kickstarter video. They used the Karplus-Strong algorithm as a demo. Of course, that demo could have been done on a Z80 chip from 1976 (though not easily—the sampling rate suffered a bit to run 4 strings on the Z80, and only 8-bit DACs were affordable in those days). It would have been more instructive to do an FM synthesis algorithm, which takes a lot more processor power than Karplus-Strong.