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This week I am going to be building a Boarduino, which is an Arduino clone that can easily plug into a solderless breadboard. It comes in 2 versions, the DC version and the USB version. I am going to be making the DC version. It is slightly less expensive and I already have the proper USB to TTL cable available for programming. More information can be found on the Ladyada website, including detailed build instructions.

What you get & What you need:

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This is a really easy soldering project. The kit comes with everything you need to build the boarduino. All you need are some basic tools:

  • Soldering Iron
  • Flux core Solder
  • 3rd hand tool or circuit board holder
  • Diagonal cutting pliers
  • De-soldering tool (Hopefully you don’t need this!)
  • Boarduino Kit – Available from the Maker SHED
  • USB to TTL programming cable – Available in the Maker SHED
  • Fume Extractor - Learn how to make your own

Step 1: Make the power supply

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Start by building the power supply. It consists of about 10 parts which I soldered in 2 steps. I was able to solder the power connector, capacitors, and diode in the fist part.

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Next, I added the LED, the resistor and 3 pin header for selecting the power source. Now it’s time to give it a quick test.

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Once you connect a 9V power supply, the green light should come on. Mine did, so now it’s time to move on to the next step. If yours doesn’t, go back and make sure the capacitors are installed correctly.

Step 2: More components to solder

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Now it’s time to solder in the 16 MHz oscillator, the red LED, matching 1K resistor, 10K resistor and 3rd ceramic capacitor. You can get all the specs from the Ladyada website.

Step 3: Just a few more components

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Next, lets solder in the socket into place. The best way to do this is to hold it in and tack down 1 or 2 of the leads. After it is tacked down, you can put it back in the 3rd hand and finish up soldering the rest of the leads.

Step 4: Adding the reset button and Programming header

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Again, hold the programming header pins with your hand and tack the first pin. Be careful the header will get hot really fast when you are holding it. Once tacked in, you can go ahead and solder the other pins with the board in the 3rd hand. The reset button will “clip” in and stay put until you are ready to solder it in permanently.

Step 5: Making it work on a breadboard

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You are almost done. Cut 4 pieces of header, a 10 pin, 8 pin, 6 pin and 4 pin. Insert them into a solderless breadboard so that the long legs are in the solderless breadboard sockets.

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All the short pins should line up with the holes in the Boarduino. Solder them in and you are done making the Boarduino.

Step 6: Test & program

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Insert the ATmega168-20PU chip, making sure you put it in with the small notch facing the reset button. Now plug it in and give it a test.

The green light should come on, along with the red light flickering. If it doesn’t go back and make sure you followed all the directions on the Ladyada website. Mine worked perfectly. The hardest part was photographing the red light flickering…but I got it!

These little Boarduinos are really inexpensive and are perfect for small spaces. You can pick up your own Boarduino in the Maker SHED.

Don’t forget, if you make something cool, post it in the MAKE Flickr photo pool. Thanks!

Marc de Vinck

I’m currently working full time as the Dexter F. Baker Professor of Practice in Creativity in the Masters of Engineering in Technical Entrepreneurship Program at Lehigh University. I’m also an avid product designer, kit maker, author, father, tinkerer, and member of the MAKE Technical Advisory board.


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