Dead-bug Arduino is still breadboard ready

Here’s a no-PCB Arduino that doesn’t obscure the DIP footprint of the AVR chip. It’s built on an ATmega88 chip, and includes a programming header, reset button, a couple of filtering caps, and an LED. This is modeled after the Lilypad hardware, and fits nicely on top of the plastic case of the microcontroller, allowing it to be used in a breadboard or DIP socket. You can see a walk through of the components in the clip after the break.

We don’t really need most of the components on top of the chip (especially the status LED on the SCK line), but there are several things that we like about this. First off, the programming header is extremely nice. We could see this coming in handy for prototyping where you don’t want to add a header to your final design. Just use a chip socket, and this chip while you’re developing firmware. Once everything is dialed in, program a naked chip and swap the two. The same goes for the reset button, which is nice when working on firmware but may not be necessary in your final design.

This is quite an old project, and we’ve actually seen a successor to it. This is Rev. 2 and we looked in on Rev. 7 back in March. That one is a full Arduino, but the circuit board has no substrate.

[Thanks Panikos]


  1. Addidis says:

    Coolest Arduino yet.

  2. says:

    is the RST button necessary? I can’t think of a time when i used it on the arduino…

  3. says:

    that bug looks to be alive too, btw.

  4. Microguy says:

    Ah yes, now that’s how it’s done. I used to make stuff like that. Just some patients and forethought.
    I like it!

  5. svofski says:

    lol, very cute

  6. adamhixon says:

    I really like this idea, its so simple

  7. hpux735 says:

    This is awesome. I would totally destroy it while trying to remove it from the breadboard, tho…

  8. Colecago says:

    That’s pretty neat. Also another note, I thought geocities was dead?

  9. Whoever says:

    This is the first Arduino project I’ve seen in a while that really does win.

    Check out “v2.0″ too with USB, though not quite deadbug:

    And geocities isn’t dead in Japan yet.

  10. Paul Potter says:

    Incredible and really neat.

  11. Kevka says:

    If he can fit a crystal on there it would be a true win. Because right now with the atmega88 running from the internal oscillator at a maximum speed of 8MHz you probably will run into troubles using the original arduino libraries (plz correct me if I’m wrong)

  12. Nice idea, I did something like this once when testing a PIC: IIRC it was a couple of LEDs and an R/C oscillator.

    SMD crystals can be had from old laptop motherboards.
    Normally they work, a little hot air and they come off faster than roof tiles in a Force 10 :)

    One of my future projects is a homemade portable hot air gun for on-the-fly component salvaging.
    Designed so that it monitors component temperature so it beeps when it is time to remove the part.

    Anyone interested? email mandoline at cwgsy dot net with the title “Quantum Slipstream”


  13. Tyler says:

    That’s awesome.

  14. I designed these a while ago:

    All three versions have a DIP footprint, and they are actual PCBs, so they are easier to manufacture. More pictures and information here:

    • Daid says:

      Those are awesome! :D I only have 1 tiny problem with them, you cannot use them to replace ‘normal’ chips, because the header pins will ruin normal IC sockets. So they’ll only work in breadboards.

    • axodus says:

      Really nice design.
      Is it via you used for all the holes? I know of one side metal ring, but not on both sides of the pcb, how do you define it to the manufacturer and where was it manufactured? thanks.

  15. Keith says:

    Yep, most certainly live bug rather than dead. Dead bug, for those who don’t know, are pin-side up … like a dead bug.

  16. The Cageybee says:

    Wow. Just wow.

    Totally blown away.
    Get rid of the LED and chuck in a 16Mhz resonator and I’m there.

  17. that1guy says:

    OK, this is really cool. However, I have a caveat – this is not an “arduino”. This is a microcontroller with a basic operating circuit built in. You could do this exact same thing with with a PIC. An arduino is a development board with a standardized header for easy expansion with daughter boards. This is not that.

    But still, it’s very well done and I could imagine this being handy around the lab.

  18. Panikos says:

    My favorite version of this is:

  19. andrew says:

    Geocities? How old is this project?

  20. dennis says:

    Hmm this is quite cool, though I don’t think it is really too practical….

    What about this, it is similar in use, though you have to use it on a breadboard (for now):

    I thought about enhancing it by maybe being able to directly contact the AVR pins from the top, and so making it usable for in-system-programming for most projects that use a custom PCB, without having to add programming headers :-)

  21. Justinnino says:


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