P1 or Photon Development Board?


I’m going to be teaching an IoT course, and thought it’d be interesting for students to create an actual product, not just a breadboarded prototype. I know this much (my fingers are not very far apart :grinning:) about electronics so I am trying to decide … what are the pros and cons of using the full development board (the Photon) as the basis for a project, as opposed to just P1. The Photon looks less complex – the headers are there, and it’s all ready to go – and the cost is only $7 more than a P1. As daunting as Eagle is, I can surely design a PCB, but with the P1, I’m thinking the assembly process would be much more challenging: all I know about soldering is don’t grab the hot end. :roll_eyes:

Advice would be welcomed!

Then definitely don’t go for a P1 which is surface mounted. Unless you’ve got decent tools and some experience, that might be more hassle than it’s worth.
Especially if kids are designing things, it might be beneficiary if they can take them out easily. You can breadboard and then take the Photon out and put in on the actual PCB without having to solder it in permanently. Not to mention having access to USB, and the buttons for debugging purposes makes a huge difference when developing things.
Only when design, coding, etc. are all finished, and you’re ready to go to an actual product, then you might consider going for surface mount. To teach electronics however, I wouldn’t recommend it just yet. Additionally, the Photons can be re-purposed if not soldered in, which is nice:smile: )


I agree with Moors7, I would absolutely go with the Photon. You can still make printed circuit boards in Eagle to make something like a product, but you will destroy far fewer devices having the students solder a socket onto their boards and plugging the Photon into the socket than attempting to solder a surface mount P1 directly into their boards. Plus, it’s much easier to debug a Photon than a P1.


Thanks Moors7 and rickkas7 for your responses – I will stick with the Photon. One of my concerns was that I was going to end up “sacrificing” them, by soldering them into the boards – but if I can just temporarily insert them into the PCB that will work out well.

@mprogers, as @Moors7 mentioned, just use 12-pin female headers and plug the Photon in those. These are cheap and there are enough for 120 boards! :wink:

1 Like

I had these made so I can plug in photons or electrons. I like that I can switch between the two. Plug in is very worth it.

1 Like

You may want to try using Fritzing. It’s free, more newbie friendly and can be used to design PCBs more easily and quicker than Eagle.

1 Like

You know, that is an excellent idea: my motivation for using Eagle was so that I could use pre-existing resources for the P1, but if I’m just using the development board already I could get by with Fritzing, which does look waaaay more user friendly.

The board I posted above was made with fritzing. You can only do two layer boards, but for basics and proto boards you can’t go wrong