Sometimes simplest ideas work best. If you like prototyping a lot, then you know, that building complete circuits on a breadboard can be pain. If your projects include microcontroller like AVR this part is always the same – micro and programming header. It may be OK if part is through hole, but if it’s in SOIC package. Baoshi found a simple solution to this routine.
He used common 28 pin SOIC/SSOP to DIP adapter and soldered microcontroller here. Then on remaining pads he soldered ISP header on top. Of course he had to bend legs to make it fit on surface. Since there is another SMT footprint on bottom, here he could electrically connect programming header to corresponding programming pins. This way without significant investment, he made robust module, that can be plugged to breadboard and used right away. As someone suggested, there are still place for decoupling cap and probably other support circuits. Great idea and time saver.
Before Arduino appeared, embedded hobbyists were more attracted to building their own development boards. If someone needed new feature they simply included in their design. We don’t say that Arduino like approach is bad, but it feels that sometimes it makes us lazy on hardware. There is not much creativity by simply grabbing Arduino, dropping couple libraries out of pool and writing couple lines of compact code. Anyway, if you like to do more barebone developing, Radek suggests his Atmega64 development board which can serve as great prototyping board.
It features many useful functionality like DS3231 RTC, DS1820 1-Wire temperature sensor, 24AA00SN I2C EEPROM, FT232RL for USB connectivity, 16×2 LCD, couple of seven segment LED displays, eight buttons and 16 LEDs. This is great board for learning AVR C programming but also can be used as base platform for many great projects. And if you still want it to be Arduino, then there is no problem to find suitable bootloader for it. Board’s Eagle CAD files are available if you would like to build on for yourself.
A good prototyping board with many features can save a day. As there are all you need you can instantly focus on things you need it to do. Aithon Robotics LLC wanted to make powerful but yet simple to work with ARM board which would fit most needs – especially in robotics. First of all it is based on ARM Cortex-M4 STM32F407 that features FPU. 512KB Flash and 192KB of RAM can be enough for most of applications. We don’t need to name all the features of ARM controller which actually caries lots of them.
The board itself has 15GPIOs that are running at 3.3V but are 5V tolerant. It has 8 ADC inputs and 8 PWM outputs where you can attache servos. You can see mini-USB seen as device and USB host ports, xBee socket, Bluetooth compatible header, SPI, SWD, DAC, microSD. Robotics enthusiasts will find a 3-axis accelerometer (LSM330DLC), 2 channel 5A H-bridge, alphanumeric LCD header, buzzer, couple push buttons and couple programmable LEDs. Besides great hardware there is software library available which is based on ChibiOS/RT. So it means all is opensource and free to use and modify. If you are looking for versatile prototyping board it may be great choice.
In order to explore the potential of the PIC12F683 microcontroller Raj built his own PIC development board using few components populating a 12 x 8 cm prototyping board. For some people it’s just a simple project placed on a plate with lots of holes, for some it’s just a generalized break out board for the PIC12F683. But guess what? This generalized piece of plate with lots of hole in it is packed up with feature of which some development boards could only dream of having.
It’s powered by a +5V regulated power supply, has three output LEDs that can be tapped to any GPIO ports using jumpers, also has a power switch to take things on and off, a green LED power indicator, a socket for the PIC12F683 – means no disordering when replacing the microcontroller, two potentiometers if you want to play with analog signals – one for reference while the other is for input, an ICSP header – no need to detach the microcontroller when programming, two switches for input, a TTL to RS232 level shifter, a piezo buzzer and a DC motor driving circuit – All the things you need to start your experiments.