I have a bunch of full size Arduino and Freeduino boards which I use in workshops, but I am always on the lookout for something more breadboard friendly. I couldn’t resist the Freeduino Nano from nuelectronics.com:
I haven’t used it yet, but it looks very close to ideal for Ourduino projects where I avoid soldering. All of the 28 pins are on a breadboard-friendly 0.1″ pitch. The rows of pins are 0.6″ apart, so it should fit into a 28-pin DIL socket, making it perfect for veroboard (Warning: I haven’t tried this yet).
It comes with both pin headers (for breadboard) and female headers like the ones fitted to standard Arduino’s. I’ll probably fit the pin headers, or buy female headers with long pins.
It is fitted with an ATmega328, so it has double the flash program memory (32K), RAM (2K) and EEPROM (1K) of the ATmega168 on my older boards.
Unlike some of the alternatives, it has a voltage regulator on board, so it should be easy to use in battery-powered projects where we often use 9volt batteries. It has the usual 16MHz crystal too, so timing-sensitive projects (like IR remote) should be okay.
It uses an FTDI USB chip like other Arduino’s and Freeduino’s, so there shouldn’t be any driver clashes. A nice touch is they include the USB to mini-USB cable in the box. so it’s good value for money.
This looks like a very good ready-made board, but as a basis for a DIY kit, it isn’t quite my ideal. The changes I’d like are:
- increase the size of the SMD resistors, LEDs and small capacitors; these parts are a bit too small for school children (and me) to use,
- use an SMD Crystal and put it on top, and
- use a slightly smaller voltage regulator, and move it to the top too.
I think we could make a single sided PCB in schools, using wires for jumpers, and solder it in my mini-oven.
I am pretty excited about this. I was about to start designing a PCB, and this turns up! Isn’t the Internet wonderful?
(BTW – the service from nuelectronics was very good, with less than 48 hours from order to delivery. I’d like to add, I have no relationship to nuelectronics.)