The Maple is LeafLabs' 32-bit ARM development board. Coupled with the Maple IDE, the LeafLabs Maple line of development boards bring an Arduino style user experience to the world of powerful 32-bit ARM processors.
The Maple Mini is the breadboard friendly Maple development board featuring a smaller, 48-pin STM32 with the same speed and memory as the original Maple. Smaller than a stick of gum, the Maple Mini sports 120 KB Flash memory, 34 GPIOs and 20 KB of SRAM.
The Maple IDE will make Processing/Arduino programmers feel right at home. By swapping the popular "avr-gcc" compiler with CodeSourcery's****"arm-none-eabi-gcc," LeafLabs manages to provide a nearly identical programming experience to Arduino despite targeting a completely different architecture.
If your current Arduino-based project is pushing against the performance limits of the ATmega, porting it over to Maple may be the fastest and easiest way to continue developing your project without starting from scratch. And with the form-factor of the Maple Mini, prototyping will be a breeze.
If a board needs code or communicates somehow, you're going to need to know how to program or interface with it. The programming skill is all about communication and code.
Skill Level: Competent - The toolchain for programming is a bit more complex and will examples may not be explicitly provided for you. You will be required to have a fundamental knowledge of programming and be required to provide your own code. You may need to modify existing libraries or code to work with your specific hardware. Sensor and hardware interfaces will be SPI or I2C.
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If it requires power, you need to know how much, what all the pins do, and how to hook it up. You may need to reference datasheets, schematics, and know the ins and outs of electronics.
Skill Level: Noob - You don't need to reference a datasheet, but you will need to know basic power requirements.
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This is a great board with a very fast little processor inside it. I would highly recommend it for general digital pin work. It is particularly great when doing large computational loads like FFTs.
Where this board has issues is with I2C. The Leaf Labs team has made mention of trying to fix these issues, but it (as of writing this review) is yet to be seen. So, if you need to talk to an ADC, an IMU, a digital potentiometer, or many other things, you will be fast out of luck.