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Why Teensy is Better Than Arduino

Sat, 10 Apr 2010 00:22:18 EST

A Teensy ++
I have primarily used a Teensy and Teensy 2.0 for the majority of the hardware prototyping work I have done over the last year. First off, I want to fully disclose what prompted me to write this article. Paul Stoffregen of and I have been exchanging email about some rare issues I am having with the Teensy 2.0 related to my specific use case. If you have ever conversed with Paul; you can sincerely tell that he loves his products and will go the extra mile to support them. I wanted to write this article in order to highlight why I prefer using a Teensy over the insanely popular Arduino for prototyping hardware concepts. I have used an Arduino in the past for work concerning the Motion Sensing Telegraph, so I have experience with both platforms.

A summary of the highlights of Teensy:
1.Can emulate several USB devices without the need of expensive additional integrated circuitry.
2.Extensive, liberally licensed code examples at that provide unprecedented access to USB device classes.
3.The board is very affordable
4.The board is very small
5.Loading code is easy
6.You can program in C without a hassle

The main reason I started using a Teensy was because it uses a microcontroller that can do USB natively without the use of additional circuitry like the Arduino. The Arduino relies heavily upon FTDIs popular FT232RL chip that converts TTL to serial emulated USB in hardware. The FT232RL is an insanely expensive integrated circuit typically running around $3.50.

The second reason I prefer the Teensy platform is that it provides so much more opportunity to get closer to the mysterious USB device classes. Paul has written several well documented applications that allow rapid prototyping in C. Although it's not my preferred methodology, you can also use the Arduino programming environment to program the Teensy. Paul calls this "Teensyduino" and has a lot of great resources on his site for it.

You can get a Teensy 2.0 for $20 or less. An Arduino from other distributors will cost you over $30.

The Teensy is an extremely small board that is very well designed. You could fit four or five Teensy's into the surface area of one Arduino. This makes the board great for embedding into discrete projects like the TDI Web Log's stationary bike racing project.

I really prefer the Teensy because it lets me get much closer to the hardware by programming in C and not processing like the Arduino. If you decide to try and load C onto Arduino you will quickly find confusing and poor documentation. This is not the case with the Teensy. Although the board can be used with the Arduino development environment, I personally think pjrc does a lot better job at documenting work with C.

In summary I really think the Teensy is a much better decision for moderately experienced people interested in a rapid prototyping environment. The examples will help you become a better Atmel C programmer, and that will apply to programming many other microcontrollers. You are not relegated to the relatively small programming environment offered by Arduino. If you make the investment and learn how to program in C with Teensy, you will effectively be able to easily utilize the entire Atmel processor family in future projects.

Charles Palen has been involved in the technology sector for several years. His formal education focused on Enterprise Database Administration. He currently works as the principal software architect and manager at Transcending Digital where he can be hired for your next contract project. Charles is a full stack developer who has been on the front lines of small business and enterprise for over 10 years. Charles current expertise covers the areas of .NET, Java, PHP, Node.js, Javascript, HTML, and CSS. Charles created Technogumbo in 2008 as a way to share lessons learned while making original products.


October 26, 2010 6:15 pm

All the teensy boards, are compatible for the ps3 hack... I'm pretty sure if sony wasn't so stubborn and offered a fully unlocked gpu to the linux community the drive to hack the ps3 would have been much smaller.. but now people can backup their games... I hear Dvd ripping on the ps3 is in development... It will rip a dvd real fast using the built-in spu's from the processor.. for my legal purposes, i'm glad I settled with the teensy, I like how it runs C code... PWM for speed controls and servo's and the tutorial kit comes with temperature a sensor... I will be working on a Climate control system for a green house and this seems to be a very cost effective Unit..

October 18, 2010 7:41 pm

I didn't know it was being used for PS3 jailbreaking. That's pretty neat. Thanks for posting it.

Reply to Jack
Reply to Jack
October 18, 2010 5:25 pm

Thats because Teensy++ 2 boards are in high demand due to their use in Jailbreaking the PlayStation 3.

September 17, 2010 08:39 am

I always get mine straight from the creator, Paul at

September 16, 2010 8:59 pm

Where can i buy a Teensy 2.0 board they are all sold out in the online stores i find em in :(

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