A $5 ARM development board

Most of you know that there are plenty of ARM powered development boards out there, so you may not be really sure what a new one can still bring to the table.

With a $5 price tag, the open hardware McHck (pronounced McHack) is meant for quickly building projects on a small budget. The board created by [Simon] is based on a Freescale Cortex M4 microcontroller, and can be plugged directly into one’s computer. As a Direct Firmware Update (DFU) bootloader is present on the microcontroller, there is no need for external programming equipment.

The board has unpopulated footprints that allow users to add other functionalities that may be required for their future projects: a Real Time Clock (RTC), a Boost regulator for single cell battery operation, Buck and linear regulators, a Lithium Polymer (LiPo) battery charger and even an External Flash storage.

The Bill of Materials can be found on the project wiki and the McHck community will soon launch a crowdfunding campaign to send the 5th version of the board to all the hobbyists that may be interested.

And if you’re curious, you can also have a look at all the other boards that Hackaday featured these last months: the browser based IDE arm boardquad-core ARM dev board and the Matchbox ARM.

Etch your own CPLD development board


Ever wanted to make the jump from microcontrollers to logic chips? Although not technically the same thing we consider FPGA and CPLD devices to be in similar categories. Like FPGAs, Complex Programmable Logic Devices let you build hardware inside of a chip. And if you’ve got the knack for etching circuit boards you can now build your own CPLD development module. Long-time Hackaday readers will remember our own offering in this area.

Our years of microcontroller experience have taught us a mantra: if it doesn’t work it’s a hardware problem. We have a knack for wasting hours trying to figure out why our code doesn’t work. The majority of the time it’s a hardware issue. And this is why you might not want to design your own dev tools when just starting out. But one thing this guide has going for it is incremental testing. After etching and inspecting the board, it is populated in stages. There is test code available for each stage that will help verify that the hardware is working as expected.

The CPLD is programmed using that 10-pin header. If you don’t have a programmer you can build your own that uses a parallel port. Included on the board is an ATtiny2313 which is a nice touch as it can simulate all kinds of different hardware to test with your VHDL code. There is also a row of LEDs, a set of DIP switches, and a few breakout headers to boot.

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.

Continue reading “An ARM dev board you can make at home”

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.