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Arduino compatible. Lighter, Smaller, and Cheaper. Standalone Mega2560 board.

Hello makers,

Background

My name is Zach Houser.  I am a research and development technician, where I am involved with rapid prototyping, and data acquisition.  I found the Arduino platform, and fell in love!  I was soon off to making all sorts of awesome projects.  I got to the point of having the prototype, but what now?  Hooking up shields was just not good enough when I wanted to send these prototypes out in the field to test them in harsh environments. Jumper wires and breadboards are great for proof of concept, but just don't hold up to real life requirements.  I have seen embeddable boards for all the smaller controllers, but nothing for the bigger chips.  I needed more memory, and more pins.  I started working on the tiny series of standalone boards.

What the heck is it?

This is a standalone micro controller board, based on the Arduino platform.  If you have never heard of arduino please go check out http://www.arduino.cc/.  A micro controller takes inputs in.  These inputs can be things like temperature sensors, humidity sensors, hall effects sensors, ect.  The micro controller can turn this input information into an output.  This is where you program the controller to make it do exactly what you would like.

So, you want your air conditioning in your house to turn on if the temperature goes above 75 degrees.  All you have to do is hook up a temperature sensor to the controller. Hook up the output of the controller to your ac unit.  Then you program it to read the temp, and if it reads hotter than 75, turn the ac on.  This is quite simplified, but you get the point.  

About the board

The board is 100% Arduino compatible. It can be plugged into the com port through the on board FTDI chip and a micro USB port.  Program uploads exactly the same as a standard board.  All the boards have an external 16MHZ Crystal.  Boards all have a built in 5v regulator just supply 5v-16v and your good.  Has built in reset with reset button.  Reset on dtr line for easy uploading.

The board can be used without the FTDI chip to reduce weight and cost.  I have been using an AVRISP MKII to program them without the bootloader.  This works fine and saves you the memory of the bootloader.  I have also tested the bootloader on both the 2560, and 1280.  Works perfect!

Arduino pin configuration
Arduino pin configuration

Specs

Dimensions - 1.6' x 2.6''

Layers -  2

Clock - 16MHZ

Weight - 12grams (everything but headers)

Atmega640/1280/2560 Datasheet http://www.atmel.com/Images/doc2549.pdf

Board without headers
Board without headers

Project Stage

As of right now I have the Rev1 boards made.  These boards are fully functional.  Bootloaders are burned, and all pins have been tested.  Rev1.1 boards are designed and ready to be sent to the manufacturer. I have tested the Arduino bootloader on both the atmega2560, and atmega1280.  I have a atmega640 board made, but have not had a chance to tweak the bootloader.

Fund allocation

I plan on using the funds that are raised to order in larger quantities.  I would like to have the boards completely assembled by the manufacturer.  I have been hand soldering each one as of now, and the 100 pin TQFP package takes about 30 minutes without a re flow oven.  I Would like to get a reflow oven, and a solder stencil.

I'm putting together all the information like the boards pin out, and a user guide.  This will make things much easier for the user.  I finally have the bootloading down, so hopefully I can take some guesswork out of it for everyone else.  I will also be posting all the Eagle files as open source.

I am also going to build a website to sell these, and fully finished products based on the arduino.  The funds will allow me to develop more pieces of hardware to work with these boards in the future. If I raise enough I will also buy extra blank Atmega chips and burn the Arduino bootloader to them.  I'll sell the induvidual bootloaded 2560 chips for $20.00.

Manufacturing the boards

I have sent the revised cad files to the board house, and they are ready to make the boards.  I plan on soldering all the components myself, here in Tempe, AZ. I will use a re flow oven and a solder stencil.  If the project is funded beyond what I am able to produce, I will have the board house fully assemble each board.  All this has been set up already.  I have sent them the build of materials, and they have already sourced all the parts.  The board house I am using is located in Elk Grove Village, IL here in the United States.

Board with 4 thermocouples, 1 temp/humidity, GPS, RPM and micro SD. Saves as a .csv
Board with 4 thermocouples, 1 temp/humidity, GPS, RPM and micro SD. Saves as a .csv
Tiny, powerfull datalogger. Ready to be used in harsh enviornments.  Take your prototype to the next level.
Tiny, powerfull datalogger. Ready to be used in harsh enviornments. Take your prototype to the next level.

Rewards

All boards will come with a copy of the user guide and a Arduino pin map.  Soldering the mega chip, and the FTDI chip is the hardest part, but is simple with solder braid.  Fully assembled boards are ready to go.  Just plug in, download driver, and start building awesome stuff!

FAQ

Have a question? If the info above doesn't help, you can ask the project creator directly.

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- (30 days)