Making a $10 Arduino
May 11, 2010 Leave a comment
In case you didn’t know, an arduino is just an Atmel AtMega 328 with a crystal, a few capacitors, a FTDI 232 usb chip and some nice headers. This instructable here, shows how to make your own arduino with nothing but a chip and a breadboard. Nerdkits is an internet company of MIT grads that sell DIY arduino kits. They also have some great videos tutorials on basic and advanced microprocessor tricks and techniques.
My main arduino that I love is the breadboard compatible Boarduino. I do all my prototyping with this board, then when I am done I pull out the chip, and put it into a Barebones Board like this one.
You can buy the kit, or just the board and add only the components that you need. Typically by the time any project has reached this stage it is already programed. If for any reason you need to update the software there are two options, either remove the chip and put it back in to the arduino board, or get an FTDI cable to program it directly. I recommend either this one, this one or this one. At first it may seem like a smarter option just to buy arduinos with usb already built in, however if you plan on doing more than one or two projects, an FTDI cable will save you money. By taking the usb off the board it saves about $5 per board. It is defiantly worth it.
Finally for those who really want a cheap arduino, (were talking like $6) there are two other options. Either put your part in a prototyping board, or make your own by using the toner transfer method. First download the eagle board file from here. Then check out these instructions.