The Digilent along with the ChipKit Max32 are very interesting as they are the only non-AVR boards that I know which are software compatible with the Arduino platform. Their PIC32 processor packs a lot more power than the Arduino's 8-bit AVR. However, while the core functionality has been implemented for the Arduino platform, I believe that you may find certain libraries you try to use will require modification to run on the ChipKit.
If you are relatively new to embedded development and don't need the extra power right now (like you commented), then I'd recommend going with the . I suspect you would have an easier time getting past stumbling blocks on the Uno given the inherent compatibility and larger user base.
I agree with Drew - when starting out, more compatible gives you a lot more satisfaction. It's no fun to have to deal with issues of incompatibilities when the learning curve is already steep enough!
On that note, Drew - do you know what the deal is with Amicus? element14 was kind enough to send me one as a gift last year, but I haven't done anything more than run the demo on it so far. Their website (http://www.myamicus.co.uk/) says it is built to be hardware compatible with Arduino, but do you know if the software is compatible in any way?
There`s also the Pinguino, here: http://www.pinguino.cc/
it`s been out a little longer and is somewhat more complete than the UNO32`s IDE as a result.
they`re all very respectable boards for developing on, but I have to agree with the above that it`s probably wiser to start with something that is Known and has a longer history and therefore better access to existing programs and hints/tips.
Personally I would buy the arduino Nano, and mount it semi-perm to a large breadboard if you plan on doing a lot of prototyping, I have 3 boards set up like this myself and wouldn`t be without them.
the whole "shield" idea became very old quite quickly here (not to mention expensive).
in fact my Original arduino (the Due) doesn`t really get used at all now other than as a programmer for other chips (I took the 328P out and put in a ZIF socket).
Stay with the tried and tested for now
You are right, I will stay with well documented and well known by the community for now. By the way I will not go bankrupt if I need to buy something different later.
As for the shield I did not think a lot about it. I was thinking about getting one proto shield, maybe it would be smarter to prefer a large breadboard.
after I got a little jaded with the "shieds" I bought a small bread board and made my own breadboard "shield" for it with vero board and a few SIL headers, this is also good for small projects and quite cheap when compared to the solder type proto-shields that you can really only use once.
but for Long term, get a Large breadboard and a Nano, this will not only assist in Arduino based prototyping, but also the arduino can be made into almost anything for prototyping Other chips
anything from a simple binary counter or serial I/O to a frequency or random number generator etc...
you can also make simple plug in modules such as a bank of 8 LEDs with resistors, or a bank of DIP switches, or a seven segment display etc... all these will save time when building on breadboard and are perfectly transportable to other projects.
that way you only ever have to do the donkey work once
I agree with YT2095 - I also have an Arduino Nano set up in a (relatively big) breadboard, and it works easily and conveniently with anything from bare parts (LEDs, switches, logic chips) to boards (like Bluetooth, distance finders, displays). LCD displays, for example just plug into the breadboard underneath it. Then just hook it all up with m-m patch cords.
Plus it can provide any other project you do with 5v or 3.3v from the Nano
I really like Arduino holders which have space to stick a breadboard. I use these for most prototyping and have only used a protoshield a couple times when I wanted to semi-finalize a design.
I own and recommend these Adafruit and Sparkfun holders:
I also own this holder which I use for my Arduino Mega:
Hi - I've not used the Amicus but from what I know it is just hardware compatible and offers it's own BASIC environment. The ARM-based Maple from LeafLabs is another example of a board that is hardware compatible. As far as I know, the Digilent/Microchip are the only ones who have taken the time to modify the Arduino software environment (toolchain & libraries) to support another architecture.
Speaking of which, I wonder how the ARM-based Arduino DUE is progressing. It's been awhile since they announced back in September. To me, Arduino is really just an easy-to-use abstraction for microcontroller programming that is powerful because it has reached critical mass, so I look forward to its continued adoption beyond the AVR architecture.