Microchip Hardware Roundup
From crowdfunding sites and online marketplaces to hardware communities and social media, you can’t go far without stumbling upon a new design with a Microchip microcontroller at its core. Continuing on with our monthly series, here’s the next batch of boards that caught our attention in recent weeks.
Single Board Solutions has launched an Arduino-compatible development board in the form factor of a Raspberry Pi Zero, complete with an unpopulated 40-pin header and compatibility with various Raspberry Pi accessories. The Cricket ONE, which is outfitted with an ATmega328PB and a CH340C USB-serial adapter, is programmable via the Arduino IDE compatibility with MiniCore. A beta version of the board is selling for $7.
A derivative of arturo182's popular Serpente, Omzlo Electronics has released a CircuitPython-powered board of their own based on the SAM D21 and measuring just 1” x 0.86” (25.4m x 22mm) in size. FIDI features six GPIOs — four of which are available through 3.5mm terminal blocks and two via a four-pin JST-SH connector in an arrangement that is fully compatible with SparkFun’s Qwiic system. This allows you to rapidly prototype and test sensors and other circuits without any soldering. Omzlo has listed FIDI on Tindie for $15, while more details can be found on their site.
Integrated Sensor Board
What may arguably be the most customizable Arduino-compatible board we’ve come across, Parametric Circuits’ Integrated Sensor Board offers a wide variety of built-in capabilities including a USB-C or micro USB connectivity, MMA8452Q accelerometer, HP203b barometer, MCP9700AT temperature sensor, phototransistor, microSD card slot, additional 16MB SPI flash memory, and WS2812 RGB LED — all of which are selected upon ordering (prices start at $18). No matter the variant, each Integrated Sensor Board possesses the same ATmega328P along with six GPIO for expansion.
What do you get if you cram the functionality of an Arduino Pro Mini into a breadboard-friendly 0.3” DIP form factor? The dipDuino, that’s what! With an ATmega328P at its heart, Jason Lopez’s board contains a CP2104 USB-to-UART bridge controller and comes preprogrammed with the Arduino bootloader. There’s also an RGB LED for power, RX, and TX functions, which glows nicely when uploading code. Lopez has shared the specs on his website and you can pick up a dipDuino of your own for $23.
Markus Bindhammer is currently working on a 1.5"x 1.9" (40x50 mm) PCB that only serves as a development kit but puts in overtime as a geek-approved wristwatch with an 128x32 I2C OLED display. Unlike other watch designs where the microcontroller is put into sleep mode, the MI/O completely switches everything off except its RTC when the device is not in use. Flipping over the face reveals a CR2032 coin cell battery along with a bunch of I/O headers that let wearers expand upon its functionality via add-on wings, including a USB power supply, a simple reading light, and an FM radio. Those wishing to sport an MI/O on their wrist are in luck as Bindhammer is planning an Indiegogo campaign. Until then, be sure to stay up-to-date with his progress!
Coming soon to Crowd Supply is Ryan Ma’s PD Micro, an Arduino-like board with 5-20V of power delivery through USB-C. As its name would suggest, the PD Micro is based on an ATmega32U4 and boasts the SparkFun Pro Micro’s familiar specs and pinout, plus a TPS62175 DC-to-DC converter, FUSB302 USB PHY, and screw terminals for power output. The board is also equipped with nine 10-bit ADC pins, 12 digital IOs, five ground pins, three VBUS pins connected to the USB-C power input, and one 5V pin for output from the TPS62175.
Dilshan R Jayakody has created an open source high-voltage parallel programmer for AVR microcontrollers, such as the ATmega8, ATmega328, ATmega32, and ATmega16. The unit, which takes the form of an Arduino Mega shield, is capable of reading, writing, and erasing flash memory and EEPROM. The AVR-H2’s control software is compatible with both Windows and Linux operating systems, supporting both import and export of memory data in the Intel HEX file format. The communication link between the programmer and the control software is established through the USB port. All the files, documentation, firmware source code, and compiled binaries are available on Jayakody’s GitHub page.
Jake Wachlin has started to post details on his lumen-loving, SAM L21-driven Ultra Low Power Feather. Alongside an accelerometer and barometer, each drawing less than 5uA, this unique board is capable of operating on ambient indoor light harnessed by a pair of KXOB25 monocrystalline solar cells. Beyond that, the ULP Feather packs a USB connector, an MCP1810 quiescent current LDO regulator, a low-power LED, and a mounting spot for 0.33F supercapacitor for operation without a battery. Although still a work in progress, you can follow along with Wachlin’s work in his log.
ATmega32 Socket Programmer
Tired of having to program new ATmega32 MCUs after they had been installed in his designs, Shane of Shane's Unique Inventions made a socket programmer to speed things up. With a built-in ArduinoISP, users can easily flash a bootloader or HEX file onto the chip with the on-board socket or use its six-pin header with a Tag-Connect or ICSP cable to configure an off-board device. The tool features an astable pulse generator, binary counter, and ADC to produce a reference analog voltage for the socketed MCU. There’s even two LEDs that enable quick and easy debugging before permanently installing it onto a different design, as well as a load switch that allows the programming IC to perform a hard power reset on the socketed chip. You can read more about Shane’s project on Reddit or purchase your own for $200.
SENTSOR Core Board 328P
Brought to our attention by its recent Open Source Hardware certification, the SENTSOR Core Board 328P is an all-in-one development board optimized for datalogging applications with an ATmega328P, an RTC module, and a microSD card.
We’ve been keeping an eye on several of Stefan Wagner’s latest ATtiny projects, especially those like the TinyUPS. This simple 5V/2.5A uninterruptible power supply implements a li-ion battery as a buffer, a load sharing power path management system, and an ATtiny13 for monitoring power supply/battery charge level and communicating with the connected device. If you’re looking for a UPS, check out Wagner’s EasyEDA page for files and additional info.
If you missed last month's hardware roundup, go here now.