Zero BZ1 Is an Arduino-Compatible Cortex M0+ Dev Board with a Built-In LiPo Charger and SD Card Module
For several years after its release, Arduino was considered by many hackers to be akin to keeping the training wheels on your bicycle. “Just flash the microcontroller and build your own circuit,” they said. The idea being that it was slightly more affordable (in bulk) and more compact that sticking an entire Arduino development board into your project. Those naysayers have obviously been proven to be curmudgeons, but what would they think of adding a LiPo charger and SD card module to an Arm Cortex M0+ (SAMD21G18) microcontroller development board?
That’s exactly what the Arduino-compatible Zero BZ1 does, and it just launched on Kickstarter. Before you go running away, consider that it’s actually not that bad of an idea. In the DIY electronics world, there is a definite move towards modular components that can be easily interfaced, and development boards that include everything and the kitchen sink. This is the latter. It’s fairly affordable too — just $18 on Kickstarter, which is comparable to other development boards, and you get the LiPo charger/regulator and the SD card capabilities as a bonus.
Aside from those capabilities, it’s similar to boards like the Adafruit Feather M0+. You’ve got a decent number of pins, a 10-bit DAC, a real-time clock, and USB flashing. It has 32KB of SRAM, 256KB of flash memory, and even an onboard temperature sensor. The built-in LiPo circuit can be used to charge batteries via USB or from sources like a solar panel, and the SD card is accessible just like with an external module connected to an Arduino. That may be superfluous for some projects, but it’s affordable enough that it’s still practical.