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August 2020 Hardware Roundup

Well, summer may be winding down but the PCB designs continue to heat up! Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen an assortment of new hardware emerge — ranging from development boards in unusual form factors to crowdfunding campaigns on Crowd Supply, GroupGets, and Kickstarter.

Well, summer may be winding down but the PCB designs continue to heat up! Over the last few weeks, we’ve seen an assortment of new hardware emerge — ranging from development boards in unusual form factors to crowdfunding campaigns on Crowd Supply, GroupGets, and Kickstarter.

Keyboard FeatherWing

Launched as the first product under arturo182’s new Solder Party brand, the Keyboard FeatherWing provides an easy way to convert your Feather project into a BlackBerry-ish device with a QWERTY keyboard and 2.6” 320 x 240 resistive touchscreen. This FeatherWing features a BB Q10 keyboard connected to a SAM D20, along with a five-way button for navigating menus and four soft tactile buttons with customizable functionality. In addition, it includes a microSD slot, a NeoPixel for status indication, and dual row sockets that let you access a Feather’s pins even when mounted! There are also Stemma QT/Qwiic connectors that make it possible to attach various sensors and process and visualize the incoming data. Depending on your Feather preference, this 'Wing can transform into a Linux terminal, a CircuitPython REPL, a WiFi client or server, a BLE peripheral, a LoRa communicator, and more. Pick up your Keyboard FeatherWing on Tindie for $55 and start typing like it’s the 2000s!


Let’s just say Bleeptrack’s work is out of this world! PicoPlanets are a series of procedurally generated PCBs, based on a SAM D21 with three capacitive touch buttons disguised as planets. As you’d expect from its Cortex-M0+ core, the boards are compatible with both Arduino and CircuitPython. Not only do they look amazing, but Bleeptrack notes that they can be used for an array of applications such as controlling PC media, OBS and room lighting, or perhaps as a simple status notifier. The PicoPlanets are up on Tindie for $28, while you can find all of the schematics and files on GitHub and an in-depth review by Hackster here.

Digirule 2U

Bradley Slattery is back with a new and improved version of his Digirule, a 1970s-style 8-bit programmable computer in the form of a 20cm ruler. His latest iteration, dubbed Digirule 2U, is equipped with a PIC18F45K20 MCU, a USB virtual COM port for communication, a built-in serial debug monitor, and a full-featured assembler for macOS, Windows and Linux operating systems. Each Digirule 2U is pre-loaded with eight programs, plus you can code your own LED games, perform calculations, and send and receive data to/from a computer or even another Digirule 2U for more 8-bit fun. Slattery is currently funding the PCB ruler on Kickstarter, starting at $27.

Penguino 4260

MakerTronika Labs has released an updated design of their SAM R34-powered, LoRa-capable board in Adafruit’s popular form factor. Using the RAKWireless RAK4260 module, the Penguino 4260 packs USB Type-C, an RGB LED, a user button, battery protection and voltage supervision, as well as an optional flash and per-provisioned secure element IC pads. MakerTronika Labs is selling them on Tindie for $39.95, though files and schematics are available on GitHub.

ANAVI Macro Pad 8

Now on Crowd Supply as part of the Microchip Get Launched program, Anavi Technology’s ANAVI Macro Pad 8 is a programmable eight-key keypad complete with RGB LED backlighting, underlighting, and an 0.96” OLED screen. An ATmega32U4 running the popular open source QMK firmware enables you to configure custom keyboard layouts and macros, even directly in a web browser — perfect for video or audio editing, graphic design, and gaming, among many other things. The Macro Pad comes in two flavors, a $36 maker kit geared towards more advanced users and a solder-free developer kit for $44.


Clyde Corpuz has set out to create a low-cost, near-Arduino Nano dev board that swaps out the venerable ATmega328 for an ATtiny1616 clocked at 20MHz. Aside from tinyAVR 1-series MCU, the Launchpad sports a micro USB connector, 18 I/O pins, eight PWM outputs, 12 analog inputs, and one true analog output (0 - 4.3V). The board is also outfitted with a UPDI programming interface, UART, SPI, I2C, configurable custom logic pins, a CH340G USB to serial converter, an AMS1117 5V LDO voltage regulator, and uses the OptibootX bootloader. Although still in development, you can keep up with Corpuz’s progress on his Hackaday page.

HSSV ATSAMR21 Breakout

Hackerspace San Salvador's HSSV ATSAMR21 Breakout is an open source, RIOT OS-compatible board for accelerating the deployment of IEEE 802.15.4 networks on the 2.4GHz band. As its name would suggest, the board uses an ATSAMR21G18-MR210UA wireless module, and provides support for antenna diversity and an ATECC508A CryptoAuthentication chip. This breakout is meant to be breadboard-friendly, and includes a micro USB port and an MCP73871 power and LiPo battery management unit.


The SAVVY-V is a high-end, Linux-capable RISC-V cluster board designed by the FOSOH-V community of developers and coming soon to Crowd Supply through Microchip’s Get Launched program. As initially reported by CNX Software, the board is based on the PolarFire SoC with four 64-bit RISC-V cores, a smaller RV64IMAC monitor core, and FPGA fabric that allows 10GbE via SFP+ cages. Moreover, the cluster board exposes six USB Type-C ports and offers a PC/104+ connector for stacking up to a half dozen SAVVY-Vs. Follow along on its campaign page to know when it goes live.

Mini SAM M4

If you follow Benjamin Shockley on Twitter, you’re likely familiar with his family of LEGO Minifigure format PCBs. What is surely one of, if not, the world’s most adorable dev boards, the Mini SAM M4 is centered around a SAM D51 with 18 I/O, a pair of LEDs, two buttons, a 600mA 3.3V regulator, and an extra 2MB of memory, all crammed into a small package. Not only is it compatible with CircuitPython, but the Mini SAM M4 comes in an assortment of colors — most recently blue and green! Shockley has set up an online store, where you can pick up one (or many) of your own.


Just4Fun's PicOne is an open source development platform for playing around with the PIC18F47Q10. The board is comprised of a microSD slot, a USB-serial adapter, a 5V or 3.3V power selector, an ICSP standard connector, two user keys, two LEDs, and a ZIF or standard MCU socket. But why stop there? It can be easily plugged into breadboards as well. More details can be found in Just4Fun’s build log.

AVR128DA Development Board

Spence Konde has designed what he claims to be the world’s first Arduino-compatible breakout boards for the AVR DA series, courtesy of his open source DxCore. Konde has released three variants of the boards — 32, 48, and 64 pins — each available in 5V, 3.3V, and 2.5V, along with the option to bypass the regulator altogether for running from a single-cell LiPo battery. The breakouts come pre-loaded with Optiboot, so they can programmed with just a serial adapter as if it were a classic Arduino Pro Mini. Get yours on Tindie for as little as $15.


The brainchild of Jack Daly, the 8bitcade XL is an ATmega32U4-controlled DIY console made to educate in a fun and rewarding way. The handheld device, which is reminiscent of the Arduino Esplora, gives users the ability to enjoy over 200 retro-style games and boasts total compatibility with Arduboy. The kit consists of a 2.42” OLED screen, six buttons, an RGB LED, a 500mAh battery for 12 hours of continuous play, a buzzer for nostalgic sounds, and a memory chip, all housed inside a slim acrylic case.


While on the topic of gaming, here’s another project to keep an eye on: the uChip Simple VGA Console (uSVC). At the heart of the uSVC lies a SAM D21-based uChip board, allowing you to create and play your own 8-bit games at a resolution of 320 x 200 pixels. The portable DIY system — which measures just 1.8 x 3.3 x 0.6” — offers VGA output of 57Hz vertical frequency and 30kHz horizontal frequency, a micro SD slot for storage, a 3.5mm audio jack, and support for standard USB gamepads and keyboards.

USB Type-C / PIC32 Breakout Board

Lophtware has shared a low-cost PIC32 board with full-speed USB 2.0 over a USB Type-C connector, compatible with the HID endpoint standard. Driven by a PIC32MM0256GPM028 with a 24MHz MIPS core, it’s meant to serve as a breadboarding and prototyping aid that’s a “more flexible offering compared to the FT232-type breakout boards” with 11 GPIO headers, an I2C bus controller (capable of operating as both controller and peripheral) an SPI/I2S controller, and a UART bus. Beyond that, the board includes a 12-bit ADC, analog comparators, PWM controllers, timers, and four configurable logic cells, plus USB 2.0 full-speed HID endpoints that negate the need for custom drivers. The breakout is programmable both through USB Type-C Debug Accessory Mode to allow firmware updates without opening an enclosure, or via GPIO using in-circuit serial programming. You can order yours on Tindie for $24.99.

Funky Drummer Kit

MadLab’s newest kit is hard to beat! The Funky Drummer Kit is a programmable, dsPIC33EP128MC202-powered drum machine with 40 drum sounds (toms, snares, basses, hi-hats, cymbals, bongos, cowbell, clap, etc.) triggered by four touch pads. The board features 12 preset rhythms, four user rhythms, an adjustable tempo metronome, and records four beats with 64 drum events per beat. Read to make some noise? The Funky Drummer Kit can be purchased for $29.

UPDI HV Programmer

Stefan Wagner joins the list once again, this time with high-voltage unified program and debug interface programmer for the new tinyAVR 0- and 1-series microcontrollers built on an ATmega8/88/168/328, leveraging the design and firmware of Dlloydev. The HV UPDI programmer enables you to use the additional configuration settings for the UPDI pin without the fear of getting locked out from the MCU. It has three programming modes — UPDI, HV or PCHV — with the target voltage at 5V. Those wishing to recreate the device can check out Wagner’s EasyEDA page.


Remember last month when we first introduced Eddie Espinal’s Arduino Leonardo-esque board in the Raspberry Pi Zero footprint? Well, you’re in luck! You can now back the aptly named ATMegaZero on GroupGets as part of the Hackster Launch program. Similar to the Pi Zero, the ATmega32U4-controlled board comes with 40 GPIO pins that can be used as input or output for interfacing devices, and can be programmed via the Arduino IDE. Rounding out the ATMegaZero’s specs are an onboard microSD card holder, a micro USB port, a 32-pin OLED display connector, and an 8-pin header for mounting a WiFi module.

Want to see more? Browse last month’s list here.

Microchip Technology, Sep 15, 2020