Teensy vs. Atmega32u4 Breakout Board+

Photos from Adafruit Industries.

I remember seeing the Teensy when I was digging into Arduino stuff last year, and it looked interesting, mainly due to it being small and cheap. (I like cheap!) But since I’m a lot more interested in what the Arduino has to offer, I didn’t look into the Teensy very much.

The Teensy is interesting though because out of the box it functions as a USB HID device, which means it can very easily emulate a keyboard or mouse. (See this Awesome Button post for a neat example.)

If you didn’t know, I’m a big fan of Adafruit Industries, not just for their amazing customer service and great products, but for their support of the open source movement, especially the work they’ve done with open source hardware. Adafruit actually sells the Teensy, but they also came out with a product called the “Atmega32u4 Breakout Board+” (terrible name, eh?) which is like a Teensy, but not like a Teensy.

Here’s where it gets weird… or interesting… or both…

By all respects, the Teensy is pretty cool, as I said, it’s small, and cheap, and can emulate a USB HID, and if your project needs that, it’s a good fit. See the Teensy page for more info.

Now, the “Atmega32u4 Breakout Board+” (terrible name) by Adafruit is similar but different. You can check out the Atmega32u4 Breakout Board+ page for more info.

Ultimately, I think I’d prefer to use the Atmega32u4 Breakout Board+ from Adafruit, and for a good explanation, see this Adafruit blog post about the Teensy, and for extra credit, see A Brief Essay About the Benefits of Open-Source Hardware.

It’s a shame the Teensy is not open source hardware, as I’d prefer to support vendors of open source hardware.

So I’ve got a project planned, and it will use a Teensy. So why not use a Atmega32u4 Breakout Board+? The first reason is, I don’t think I’m ready for it. In reading through the Atmega32u4 Breakout Board+ docs and digging through the forums a bit, it looks like Atmega32u4 Breakout Board+ development is not exactly easy for a beginner. I’d like to get into it at some point, but right now, the Teensy seems like an easier path to completing my project, and maybe once it’s done I can look into working with the Atmega32u4 Breakout Board+.

I know this may seem like a small thing, but I’d really like to support open source hardware when I can, the same way I try to support open source software when I can. It’s always a struggle.

3 replies on “Teensy vs. Atmega32u4 Breakout Board+”

The compiled code for the teensy will run on the 32u4 on the breakout board. You just have to setup a different bootloader.

Thanks Darth, but how do I get the compiled code onto the 32u4? That’s the part that is confusing me… Is it the whole process of editing the boards.txt file?

My apologies for answering a question nearly a year later. I had stumbled upon your page, and long forgotten about it.

If you are still looking for the answer, then yes, you will need to edit boards.txt. I believe you will need to have it setup for the Teensy core and Leonardo bootloader. You should go to the Arduino forum or email Paul Stoffregen (very helpful and friendly person) directly for better instructions.

I also like to support open source when I can. I think Paul actually has a fairly good reason not to open source the hardware. Even closed source the Teensy was cloned by the extremely cheap eBay electronics stores, and he does not want to do the technical support for a product he didn’t sell. The bootloader likely is for the same reason, though I do personally wish he would open source it.

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