The Day After Arduino

There will come a day in every budding hacker’s life that they realize that plopping an entire arduino in their project and leaving it there is a bit of a waste. [Domiflichi] realized this, and has shared his next steps with us. He takes us through the process of removing the ATMega chip and breadboarding it for final use.

For many of you, this is an obvious chain of events. However, there are also many who just haven’t ventured forward and taken this one step that will forever change how their projects are seen by the hacking world.  For the anti-arduino crowd, realize that this is an opportunity not to bash a useful tool but to help nurture and lead people to the next step.

60 thoughts on “The Day After Arduino

  1. @ sneakypoo

    Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with having an easy-to-use toolchain – why should things be unnecessarily complex?

    IMO, the free gnu based toolchains suck. If you do much of this hobby, compilers like Bascom, CodeVision or Imagecraft are excellent investments. I’m all for free, but my time and patience levels have value as well.

  2. How the code is created does not matter. It is like people that scoff at Basic and say it isn’t a real programming language. I don’t care if you use basic, python or C or finger paint the code, if you can get the processor to do what you want that is all that matters.

  3. I’m with Agent420- easy isn’t evil, so long as you are not trading off performance. And by trading off, I mean somewhere it actually matters. A temperature controller that updates at 0.1Hz is not going to benefit much from optimized assembly language code, nor suffer from code being written in JavaJr or DoofusBasic or whatever.

  4. Ha, this is how I decided to start, I got enough stuff for 5 Atmega chips, including some 12mhz crystals for $50, this included the solderless breadboard, some actual breadboard and resisters capacitors etc. Also some header strips.

    This really is the way to go, throw in a DB25 and some resistors and program right on the Parallel port.

    +1 for the guides, I hope they get some people away from the “arduino” platform for finished projects.

  5. people should be required to fashion their own microcontrollers from paperclips and toothpaste in order to be recognized by the hacking community. using something for what it is meant to be used for IS NOT A HACK! (I love that caps are now enabled, I can be more right now :P )

  6. I agree….simpler is better…and I’m NOT an Arduino user!

    Most projects or prototypse JUST have to work. When you get down to manufacturing and cost savings, then you need to switch over…but there will always be cheaper and more efficient methods. Getting it done and working is the hard (fun) part.

    I’ve never sprung for any of these micro kits, as I have always done chip up designs…but can see how they make things easier.

    My coursework didn’t even include microcontroller classes (aside from 2 Intel processor based project classes). I went back a couple years after I graduated and asked the department head why micro controllers weren’t part of their coursework (~1997), and he asked me if I wanted to teach a class! I have since heard that many engineering colleges include this option….


  7. So let me get this straight. All of you with the proficiency to not use Arduino are already complaining that someone is documenting the move away from the prototyping platform to a proper product?

    How about you help add to the gap that is there for beginners (so there is no need to complain) OR stop complaining.

    If someone is willing to learn to use arduino from scratch the its someone with the desire to learn. If the resources are there he/she will use them to do so.

    Don’t forget that for many of us this is a hobby not a profession so jumping through flaming hoops is not desirable. a little paving here and there is welcome!

    Having said all this is the *only* negative thing I have seen about the arduino + related so far. The community is sxtremely helpful to those willing and I for one greatly appreciate it.

    Rant over,

  8. In our High School days we had the ancestors of Arduino. And it had human friendly I/O literally on board after a fashion.. which let us debug 6502 designs a whole bunch more pain free. even if a 6502 and it’s support etc cruft cost arguably more than today’s adjusted “cost” per se. It still is the same concept- Debug on a common mass produced board- build the resultant design a whole lot smaller/lighter etc.

  9. I don’t feel like Googling, but resources on starting out with microcontrollers have been available for many years now. Much like nubie above, I started out following an avr guide on the net and simply ordered a couple of avr’s and crystals, building my own lpt programmer (a simple 1 chip circuit). There are free demo versions of Bascom and Codevision available so you’re Hello Worlding in minutes with the included sample projects.

    Perhaps the best thing that can be gained from the Arduino is the knowledge all of this can be done. You get familiar with the overall operation and terminology. It should be pretty basic to make the next step if you’re so inclined.

    I’m not an Arduino basher – I may well have started out using them myself had they been around at the time. But I still think the toolchain thing is the weakest link, from a free/cheap pov. Still, the demo versions referenced provide enough to create some decent projects.

  10. To those jumping on me for my comment up there. Perhaps I should’ve put it differently. What I meant was simply that it would probably be an eye opener for those who have never used anything but the ready made libraries and the like. You gain more space and often speed as well (well, probably not at first but when you learn a few tricks along the way). If you always rely on the availability of libraries you never learn to solve problems on your own.

    I didn’t mean that they should be forced to learn ASM (I started with that, got fed up and put down the hobby for months until I started back up with C). I’m all for ease of development but it doesn’t hurt to know how to do more powerful stuff.

    The post is about moving away from the traditional Arduino boards, so, isn’t the next logical step to also move along to a “real” language? (and please, don’t stab me in the neck for that comment as well, you know what I mean)

  11. @Panikos
    Not complaining, just perspective. Any kits that make things easier seem like a good approach to me. Going straight to the chip level is not always necessary.

    If anyone wants to change their methods, as Agent420 pointed out, there are plenty of resources out there.

    I’m just getting old and have less time, so learning a simpler dev. kit would require work on my part. I’m lucky if I get more than 2 personal projects done a year nowadays…sad but true…

  12. OR better yet, jump to real pic programming and stop being locked to a single avenue.

    Microchip has some awesome pic’s that can be programmed with C easily and free. I love the 8 leg items as some dont need a xtal for clock and can self run. making very cool tiny projects for 1/10th the price of a dunio ready chip.

  13. I’ve really wanted to teach a class based on Arduino. Where we spend the first weeks on using Arduino and doing cool stuff. The final project is DeArduinizing where we pull out an stk500 and start from scratch.

    I do want to point out that the reason why python is popular is because its easy and it works with a lots of things out of the box.

  14. Yay…arduinos FTW.
    Yay…not all arduinos are fucking lazy idots
    Yay…arduino users can read technical datasheets and demonstrate a willingness within the arduino user community to step away from the accepted prototyping platform.
    Yay…I get it. You hate the arduino, mainly because you had to build it all from the ground up, while we coast in with a couple of ‘neato’ projects such as tweeting a shit.
    Yay…its funny watching you all wig out of a little Italian blue PCB.

    Yay…have no idea why I am typing this.


  15. An arduino is for ‘rapid prototyping’ in my opinion, so using one is not hacking.

    People who use them for projects shouldn’t be subject to negative comments from hackers, as you can rest assured they are indeed NOT HACKERS and aren’t claiming to be.

    You then must ask yourself do arduino projects belong on hackaday, well there aren’t enough actual projects submitted for them not to be……unless you want a barren site that dies off from lack of content.

    I didn’t think so, enough with the arduino bashing….it is starting to get an cuppertino/engadget smell around here.

  16. People are still bashing the Arduino platform? Jeez. I hope something new comes along, cuz the jokes are getting stale.

    It’s a RAD tool that is great for beginners and brings more attention to the scene as a whole.

    This post is good. It shows you how to take your $30 Arduino and reduce it to your $6 atmel chip, even if it’s a baby step. Which is good, because alot of folks with an arduino are doing “Baby’s first” type of projects.

    The next progression in terms of guide’s needs to be how to design a breadboard such that you can reprogram, providing working examples along the way.

    The only way to stop this barrage of Arduino projects is to show folks the alternatives in baby steps…much like this guide does.

  17. I am glad someone finally put something like this up there…Without proper training, not to many people instantly know how to do something…I know that I first started with html, then vb, then css, and most recently java…and once i felt a little more comfortable with it I am now going into the Arduino world…and as with everything else, i will eventually move on to a more advanced topic…so I appreciate posts like this that help break any barrier that may stop my progress.

  18. I’d like to suggest another option for replacing your arduinos: Solarbotics’ Ardweeny.

    I’ve made several projects with them so far.. they are great to work with. Also, people are saying the use of an Arduino is for rapid prototyping and not hacking? Hacking is smashing some crap together to get functionality. If you are custom designing boards, you aren’t hacking anymore, you are designing. The prototype IS the hack, the refined and optimized version of the prototype is losing the hacked qualities and becoming a formal project.

    That being said, the arduino is a swiss army knife and easily overkill for many projects. If the project is temporary and disassembled.. it isn’t overkill. You can replace the arduino with something more optimized for the specific task when you decide to put it into a permanent case.

  19. This is one of those “real hackers use…” things isn’t it.

    Ahem, real hackers use MC68xxx micro’s! NO WAIT! REAL HACKERS just hold two electrified conductors and tap out the bit patterns themselves!

    I don’t care which micro a project uses – it’s good to see people getting into these projects!


  20. I also learned raw microcontrollers first, from internals out. This is very valuable to newcomers on understanding what is going on. But, I got tired of breadboarding all of the supporting circuitry every time I wanted to move to a new prototype. So, now, I AM an Arduino user and I think it’s perfect for learning and it makes rapid prototyping a snap.

    Of course the Arduino IDE and libraries are limited, but they handle most things that most newcomers want to explore.

    Who cares if Arduino is overkill. So is an infinite universe (theorized), but we still use parts of it for ourselves.

    I would like to encourage people who are really interested in learning embedded solutions, to play with it, but also learn what’s under the hood and how to simplify for any direction of scalability.

  21. I’ve always wondered about the extreme Arduino love that I keep hearing about. You can shove an AVR into a breadboard, hook up a few power wires, and program & power it with a $20 usb programmer (e.g. usbtinyisp). You’re up and running.

  22. I used to spend like an hour getting the stk 500 setup to hook the tx/rx lines up and getting the ISP programming working (which totally owns if you are programming SD cards). Then I would have to swap the connector each time i went from programming to reading over serial….

    I love the Arduino!

  23. I first glanced at this HAD entry earlier dring a snack break and I couldn’t work out what they were going on about till now when I read it all through.

    The reason it puzzled me why this is a HAD topic is because the microcontroller I’ve chosen to use for various projects is the PICAXE, compared to this it’s practically standalone.

    I started out getting a 18X kit which had the serial programming socket & power input with a darlington driver socket and outputs you could solder because it was the easy way into the Picaxe world, but now I program all my Picaxe chips directly on breadboards or vero/strip boards they’re soldered onto because they usually require so few extra components to run.

  24. @michael it takes you an hour to setup the STK-500?


    @osgeld me too! Internal RC oscillator rocks! NO external hardware needed to run an AVR! *programming* it takes a programmer, but those are reused for every project.

  25. @queso

    You can blow your own chips using this method, then build your own board with the other links.

    Using an ftdi breakout board, you can pretty much program any chip that avrdude can interface with. Once the bootloader is on the chip you can re-use the ftdi breakout board or cable in the arduino IDE just like a ‘real’ arduino with auto reset, obviously you can re-use the bob/cable for any other chips you want to program.

    for those of you that want to build your own boards should take a look at this:

    direct link to the pdf

  26. Has anyone considered that the “hack” in many Arduino projects is not the Arduino, but what it is doing that isn’t normally possible?

    If you make a homebrew RFID door opener, is it a hack if it uses an AVR but not if it uses an Arduino? Is it not a hack if I use a store-purchased motor rather than build my own from magnet wire and magnets?

    Hating on a platform is stupid. Worry about the end result, not what gets you there.

  27. This really is a good article for any one thinking about using the arduino. I saw a similar guide on programming an atmega8 awhile before I bought my arduino.

    I still bought one because I can get enthusiasm of what you can do from others. Alas you’ll wind up having something like this down the line if you wanna mass produce things for that craft fair.-charging at least the cost for the labor of getting the chip off the arduino platform.

    Besides if you are gonna get started on projects you’ll most likely be needing these pieces anyway.

  28. “finally a credited proposal to ending arduino flooding in the ‘hack scene’” – if it wasn’t for Arduino, there’d be very little of any hack scene buddy. How about you stop typing and show us your work..??

  29. Random Day After trivia:

    “The government, nervous of how it would be portrayed, didn’t allow the production to use stock footage of nuclear explosions in the film, so ABC hired some of the best special effects creators to work on the film. The result was a frighteningly real explosion and iconic “mushroom cloud” (created by injecting colored dye in small tanks of vegetable oil).”

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