Build a bare bones Arduino clone which maximizes its use of real estate

barebones-arduino-clone-at-home

Check out all the stuff crammed into a small swath of strip board. It’s got that characteristic look of a roll-your-own Arduino board, which is exactly what it is. [S. Erisman] shows you how to build your own copy of his YABBS; Yet Another Bare Bones Arduino (on Stripboard).

The strips of copper on the bottom of the substrate run perpendicular to the DIP chip and have been sliced in the middle. This greatly reduces the amount of jumpering that would have been necessary if using protoboard. A few wires make the necessary connections between the two tooled SIL headers that make up the chip socket. On the right hand side there a voltage regulator with smoothing caps. The left side hosts the obligatory pin 13 LED, and the crystal oscillator can be glimpsed on the far side of the ATmega328.

Pin headers along either side of the board have been altered to allow for soldering from the wrong side of the plastic frames. Note that there’s a three-pin hunk that breaks out the voltage regulator, and an ISP programming header sticking out the top to which those female jumper wires are connected.

Ringing in at as little as $2-$4.75 a piece you’ll have no problem leaving this in a project for the long hall. We can’t say the same for a $30+ brand name unit.

53 thoughts on “Build a bare bones Arduino clone which maximizes its use of real estate

  1. That’s a very clean build there. I don’t know how many other bare bones clones are about the internet but I’d wager many people have those parts in bins already. The price tag also makes it great for learn to code classes we’ve been trying to get going at our hackerspace.

    PS: long -haul-

    1. Yes, ‘officially’ (on the instructables article) it is YABBAS, but I suppose just YABBA would work as well

  2. What if I wanted to program this one or other clones without any ties to the Arduino platform and dev system? Any alternative C libraries and compilers? Save for the use of C rather than asm, I would like to stay as much as possible close to the bare iron.

    1. I know this confuses a lot of people. “Arduino” consists of an IDE, a bootloader, and packaged libraries in a standardized library. On the hardware side, the attempt is there to standardize pin-mappinand layout so that shields can be plugged in easily.

      However, there is nothing to stop you from using an arduino board as you would any other AVR dev board, or to use the Arduino environment with a non-standard layout board (such as this.)

      The arduino “language” is C/C++. The real magic is just in the libraries which provide APIs to the low level hardware and the simplification of the build/compile/upload process due to the IDE and bootloader. The tradeoff is (potentially) bloated ‘core’ code (and in some cases slower code execution) by using the built-in functions of the libraries to simplify programming.

  3. Nicely packed and small for an all through-hole board. I like the homemade pin-bending jig on the page for step #5 too.

    1. They came from my parts bin, originally in some device I tore apart years ago.

      I updated the BOM to properly indicate the (normal) LEDs should probably be 3mm instead of 5mm based on the spacing requirements of the original design.

  4. Nice build. Anyone considering this should first look at the RBBB (really bare bones board) from moderndevice.com. Eyeballing the picture, the RBBB is narrower and can be cut shorter depending on how you want to power the device. The price is $13 including AVR, PCB, headers, all necessary parts.

    http://shop.moderndevice.com/products/rbbb-kit

    No affiliation, just a happy customer.

    1. Another happy customer here, and that was the first thing I thought of when I saw this. I have several BBB and RBBB boards and they are quite compact and cheap.

    2. Yep, that is another interesting option that has it’s time/place and is even linked to in the Instructable as a source of inspiration.

      The potential benefit of this design, is it can probably be made in under an hour for $2-$5 with parts on hand vs. $13 + shipping time/cost. Also, this can be used as a base for a finished project/prototype. Just expand the stripboard by a few rows/columns and add your other components.

    1. For $25 + shipping cost/time that is hardly in the same category as a $2-$5 device that you can probably build in under an hour with parts you probably already have on hand.

      But, I agree everything has it’s time and place, and that would be useful for some people or situations.

        1. Agreed, the Ardweeny Multi pack is an amazing bit of kit in a small and affordable package. It’s ideal for small hobby robot projects. Ask your friend if he is going to develop anything more like that. Perhaps something with a beefier power supply and/or battery charging made ez, and the ability to handle more servos/sensors at once.

    1. That’s an interesting idea. I hadn’t seen this one before.

      It looks like the board is soldered on top of the ATmega? So, that would make it more difficult in reusing the IC for something else. But most of the time, that probably wouldn’t be a concern I guess.

  5. Neat, but for that price, I’d rather go on ebay and buy an arduino pro mini clone, actually, two depending where you buy from. Messed around with a few and haven’t had a single problem.

    1. That’s what I use these days. For under four bucks and a (very) little soldering I am ready to go. I’ve used dozens with no problems.

    2. Yeah, I have a few of those too. But, I doubt you can get two for the cost of one of these. The cheapest I have found is about $4 /per unit but you have to buy a quantity of 5 to get that price. Also, you have to wait a month (+/- week) for china shipping.

      And… if you go with the stripboard design, you can always expand it a few rows or columns and include a few additional parts for your finished project.

    1. … and doesn’t have the voltage regulation or the crystal (it uses the slower, less accurate internal clock). I also look at that and have no motivation to actually make it. It doesn’t look like fun to solder.

      But, I suppose that would work for some people.

  6. “this in a project for the long hall.” This sentence might have been “this IS a project for the long HAUL.” Spellcheck is no substitute for proofreading,

    1. A fine example of Muphry’s Law in action. “you’ll have no problem leaving this in a project for the long hall.” In context, the word “in” is correct.

    1. That’s what I used to do, but I found myself running out of breadboards because I wasn’t ready to ditch an idea yet, but thought up some new idea that I wanted to try out. This is a cheap/easy way to keep the complexity (and number of wires) down on the breadboard so that it is easier to setup a new project or tear down an existing one.

    1. Yes, that is what those are. Kind of a different market though.

      There are still a lot of people that aren’t comfortable soldering surface mount ICs.

      Chances are most people don’t have those custom built boards in their parts bin either.

    1. Hmmm… $2-$5 of parts you may already have and < 1hr of build time vs. $25 + shipping cost + days of shipping time.

      It's up to you, but to me they are in different categories.

    1. The electrolytic cap is recommended depending on how far away the power source is. Usually it is a good idea if it is more than an inch or two away. It helps buffer fluctuations, and keeps a more stable (slower changing) voltage.

      The ceramic capacitor is placed as close as possible to the IC and helps eliminate the higher frequency spikes and noise.

      Depending on what your needs are, they are optional, although for the few extra cents of costs they are recommended.

      I’m not sure why they would be a bad idea, unless you meant using an electrolytic cap instead of a ceramic cap. I would not recommend that.

    1. Yep, I have a few of those as well, and they can be found even cheaper on eBay (as cheap as $4 /per in a 5-pack) if you want to deal with 1 month (+/- a week) china shipping.

      But, as I have already called out, they potentially serve different purposes. This device probably can be made for $2-$5 in under an hour with parts you probably already have on hand, and it can serve as the base for an actual finished prototype/product by adding a few rows/columns to the stripboard for whatever additional components are needed.

      As always, use the right tool for the job at hand.

  7. I build the same thing onto a slightly bigger board to give me room to wire up a bunch of extra parts. The board I use is Radio Shack part number 276-150, also known as a 417 board. This board is nice because they also sell cases that exactly fit the board. I build the Arduino portion just as small on one end of the center of the board.

    It is great to be able to bread board something, then transfer it over one of the boards I made and wire it up there. I even just transfer over the programmed chip from the Arduino board and repopulate the Arduino with another of the chips I bought in bulk to get a price discount. http://mystry-geek.blogspot.com/2012/04/building-hackduino.html

    I used this process to build a camera controller as well: http://mystry-geek.blogspot.com/2012/04/arduino-based-camera-shutter-release.html

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