Thursday, August 21, 2014

mini Duino+ And Very-Small Arduino-Compatible Boards

So I read an article today about a new, very-small, Arduino-compatible MCU development board with a recently launched Kickstarter campaign. Tonight's post looks at this new board, called the mini Duino+, and the topic of other compact Arduino-compatible boards.
mini Duino+ and a US quarter

The mini Duino+ Kickstarter webpage introduces the new board this way:
"I started this project to solve a few problems with current small Arduino compatible boards. I wanted to create something that had more features and ability, but yet kept the cost down. This way a full-featured platform could be developed that doesn't break the bank. It could be small and affordable enough to leave in projects, and it needed to be completely open-source...The new advancement in Arduino compatible hardware utilizes the ATmega 1284P AVR, in place of the common 328p that is used in current Arduino hardware. The 1284P is the perfect mix of features, program space, and cost. Cheap enough to be used in almost every project; capable enough to deliver. No matter what you're trying to build, the Mini Duino+ packs the punch to do it and more."
I don't have enough experience with MCUs yet to explain what use cases would be highly well-suited for using mini Duino+. Maybe Ed or Nick or one of the other members of the Humboldt Microcontrollers Group can do that in a future post. But there was a Wired article, "Change of Pace: TinyDuino Microcontroller Is Smaller Than a Quarter," that had a good overview of
very small Arduino-compatible boards, focusing primarily on the TinyDuino. That article discusses the origin of this teeny dev board.
"TinyDuino is a fully Arduino-compatible hardware platform, complete with expansion shields (add-on boards that have specific sensors or lights, for you non-robot designers). But where an Arduino Uno is around the size of a credit card, the TinyDuino is smaller than a quarter, and its sibling the TinyLily is the size of a dime. The TinyDuino line is designed around three core elements: size, affordability, and expandability. The idea, says Burns, is to open up Arduino to a whole host of applications that simply aren’t possible with the larger board. The seeds of TinyDuino were planted when Burns was working on creating smart sensors. The goal was sensors that would be plug and play, with on-board intelligence that allowed them to handle all the hard stuff, like reading data, calibration, and formatting the output."
The TinyDuino was launched with a Kickstarter in 2012 which raised over 10 times the original funding target of $10,000. The website for TinyDuino has an extensive list of available components for the board, with the board itself going for $20.95, and a basic TinyDuino kit going for $39.95.
Arduino Micro

Other very-small Arduino-compatible boards include, but are not limited to, two official Arduino ones, the Arduino Micro and the Arduino Nano, the SparkFun Pro Micro, the Digispark (for only $8.95) which also launched with a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign, getting over 60 times its original funding goal of $5000, and a whole host of Chinese very-small form factor knockoffs.

Because of limited space on these very small dev boards, they are usually more difficult for beginners to use than an Arduino Uno board. And since these boards are intended to be prototyping boards, you may want to build your prototype on a normal size board like the Uno before reproducing your successful circuit
Digispark development board
design on one of these smaller boards. And at some point you'll be able to go straight from prototyping with the Arduino Uno to using the desired MCU on a custom made PCB (printed circuit board), using only the components necessary which will often result in a much smaller board than the Uno.

At one of the upcoming Humboldt Microcontrollers Group meetings, I'm going to ask everyone who comes to the meeting to bring smaller MCU development boards they have, and we can discuss the pros and cons and what projects they've used the small form factor boards on.


No comments:

Post a Comment