Friday, 16 April 2010

Arduino on a budget - part 1

Readers will know that I'm a fan of the Arduino, as is my daughter Alex. We currently share an Arduino board. I'm in the middle of a lengthy project, and I don't want to delay her access to the board.

The obvious solution is to get a second Arduino. An Arduino Duemilanove board costs about £25 in the UK , and I'd prefer not to spend that much.

Luckily the Arduino is open source, so lots of companies have developed their own versions.

One popular alternative is the Boarduino from Adafruit, shown above. It's an Arduino clone with a much smaller footprint. You can't use standard Arduino Shields, but you can plug it into a breadboard - hence the name.

If you're based in the UK .:Oomlout:. currently offer the Boarduino for £13.50. I'd willingly spend that much, but a quick web search turned up two even cheaper possibilities; the Paperduino and the Stripboard Arduino.

The Paperduino is a cool idea, but I'm looking for something a bit more robust, and the ability to plug an Arduino clone into a breadboard is attractive. I thought I had all the components for the Stripboard Arduino already, so I started building. It turns out that I have plenty of Atmel™ Mega8s, 16s, and 32s, but not a single 328 - not even a 168.

So I am modifying the design slightly to use an Atmel Mega8; I'll also add a bridge rectifier for polarity protection. It's all too easy to use the wrong polarity wall wart; without some form of protection you can easily destroy the Atmel micro-controller that forms the heart of the Arduino.

2 comments:

  1. I've been avoiding doing this until I have more time ... very useful information. It used to be quite easy to get loads of electronic components here in HK, many of the shops have moved but still lots are available. I guess they've all moved across the border to Shenzhen.

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  2. I will have more to report in the next day or so. Glad it was useful!

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