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Kimio Kosaka soldered together quite a unique Arduino clone. The entire board is done freeform, with no PCB whatsoever. Based on a Metaboard, Kosaka designed and printed the layout in Eagle CAD. He used the printout as a template to bend steel wires into place to make the connections. Despite using a method that’s known for its delicacy, the final product looks surprisingly robust.

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[via Dangerous Prototypes]

Michael Colombo

In addition to being an online editor for MAKE Magazine, Michael Colombo works in fabrication, electronics, sound design, music production and performance (Yes. All that.) In the past he has also been a childrens’ educator and entertainer, and holds a Masters degree from NYU’s Interactive Telecommunications Program.


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  1. [...] Read the full article on MAKE [...]

  2. MikePDX says:

    These freeforms are all very pretty, but watch out. Without the full or partial ground plane a PCB provides, your signals can get ragged and even go wrong.

    1. That’s generally true, but it’s not as bad as you make it out to be. Ham radio builders have been building one-off equipment that operates in the RF spectrum easily enough. This style of construction is called “Dead Bug” construction. The Arduino circuit above can be made to operate at higher frequencies easily enough simply by bringing the circuit in appropriate proximity with a solid, grounded piece of metal to serve as the ground plane. “Appropriate” can range from millimeters for UHF and above to *inches*, especially for AF to LF work.

      Indeed, years ago, I designed and built a 66dB AF amplifier (intended for use with a binaural direct-conversion receiver which I never finished, alas) using only three 2N3904 transistors using dead-bug construction (as memory has it, a common-base followed by two common-emitter sections), and it worked fantastically well. A bit on the warm side (+/- 12V supply), but it had spectacular audio quality and didn’t sound like your typical solid-state audio amplifier at all. The circuitry was about an inch away from the ground plane.

      Common sense says that an amplifier with this kind of gain should oscillate, especially considering the transistors I used; but, this didn’t happen. If I had built this on a PCB, with a ground-plane much closer to the operating circuitry, you can bet capacitive coupling would have been much greater, and it absolutely would have oscillated under pretty much any condition.

      So, be careful when you talk about ground planes. Yes, they’re needed in the general case, but they don’t always need to be so close to your operating circuitry.

  3. i tryed this but when i gave it some dc power it shorted out anf burnt the chip (must of made a wrong conection)

  4. [...] the article Freeform Arduino Bliss, MikePDX [...]

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