DIY ARM prototyping board

We’re impressed by the ARM prototyping board which [Danjovic] is showing off. He proves that in this day of ever shrinking packages it’s still possible to make your own development tools with protoboard and a soldering iron.

To tell you the truth, if he had designed and etched his own board we probably wouldn’t have featured it. But he didn’t need to spend time on the layout, etching, and reflow. Instead it’s just some enamel wire and a lot of patience. The patience is because the NXP ARM Cortex-M0 chip comes in a HVQFN package. We’re not entirely sure about the HV part (the package alphabet was not entirely clear on this) but QFN means Quad Flat No-Lead. That means no legs on the chip. So [Danjovic] glued it upside down and soldered point-to-point to break out all of the pins.

The top side of the board has a bootloader button, reset button, power regulation, and a crystal oscillator. He doesn’t mention what bootloader he’s using, but a Nokia USB cable gives him the connectivity to push his programs onto the chip.

Making the most of your diy development boards

[Rajendra] built a rather impressive development board based around a PIC microcontroller. At its center, he’s got a PIC 16F1827 chip, but we think the design is easily adapted to your microcontroller of choice.

The I/O pins on the microcontroller aren’t actually connected to any of the components on the board. Instead, female pin headers neatly organize the pins grouped by their register. Jumper wires make for quick connections to all of the available peripheral devices. There’s an additional header for connecting the PICKit programmer, and the small blue breadboard lets you add your own components to the mix, or lets you utilize the board with a different microcontroller.

[Rajendra] took the time to carefully label all of the connectors, removing the guesswork (or pin counting) from the setup process. Many of the peripherals are i2c devices, and there’s a pin header to connect more, or to sniff the data using a Bus Pirate or other tool.

Quick and easy DIY PIC development board


A few months back, [Phil] was looking to get into PIC development, but he couldn’t seem to find a simple development board for the PIC16F883 microcontroller he wanted to use. Since no retail offering had exactly what he was looking for, he decided to put together a dev board of his own.

He spent a couple hours in Eagle, putting together a simple board layout. [Phil] then busted out the iron and copper clad, making his dev board a reality using the tried and true toner transfer method.

He says that the board itself is quite simple, consisting of little more than the PIC, an LM1117 linear voltage regulator, and all the pin headers you could possibly need. While very basic and not necessarily a hack, we do like seeing people make their own tools when the market doesn’t provide what they want.

If you have been looking around for a simple PIC development solution, be sure to swing by [Phil’s] site – all of the schematics and layout files are free for the taking.

An ARM dev board you can make at home

[BarsMonster] just challenged our conceptions of ARM development with his single-sided development board that’s loaded with an STM32F100 (PDF warning) ARM microcontroller. The board is remarkably simple – just a regulator, resistor and a few caps are necessary to get a $1 ARM μC up and running.

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Devboard deal: TI Experimenter Board for $15 (50% off)

Cheap things come to those who wait. If you’ve had your eye on a TI Experimenters Board (MSP-EXP430FR5739) now’s the time to pull the trigger. You can use the coupon code MSP430_FRAM to get 50% off. This pulls the total price down to $14.50 plus shipping with several readers reporting free shipping.

The board features an upgraded MSP430. Instead of using flash memory, it’s got  ferroelectric random access memory (FRAM) which boots the power savings of these aready lean-mean chips.

We’ve posted a few deals from Texas Instruments before, like the announcement of the Launchpad which was just $4.30, as well as a coupon-deal gone awry with the evalBot. There were huge threads in those posts reporting back how long shipping took, as well as how well the codes worked. So feel free to share your thoughts on this deal by leaving a polite comment.

Of course if you get one, we want to see what you do with it. Don’t forget to write up your projects and send in a tip.