Idea: solderless breadboard Arduino clone

[flickr 1047996044 ]

I’ve been playing around with alternative layouts to the popular Arduino project. Here is one I got in my recent batch of PCBs. It comes as a kit, to be assembled by the customer.

It has basically the same parts as the original: an ATmega168 and 16MHz crystal, 9V DC jack, 5V power supply, power LED, a red LED connected to pin 13, a programming header and a reset button.

But, it doesn’t have a USB jack, as the chip is really tough to solder. Instead you can use a USB-ttl cable (available from Mouser) or a USBmini type thing:

[flickr 1109902014 ]

The nice thing about it is that you can plug it into a $3 solderless breadboard and it will be about $20 for a kit. The sad part is you can’t use shields and a separate USB connection.

It will be interesting to see whether the new layout will be useful to people!

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  1. Similar to the Bare Bones Arduino at

    I’ve built one of them with the headers flipped (its standard config) to use in a breadboard. His includes a header for a FTDI TTL-232R USB-to-TTL cable. But I was able to easily make one from an old cellphone cable.

    The plugin breadboarding ability does make prototyping with the Arduino much easier. His design with additional analog pins with power next to them is also great.

  2. yup i have a barebones arduino, i liked the idea! this is ‘somewhat’ similar, but i wanted it to sit right on top of the breadboard

  3. I think this sounds like a great idea. This would make prototyping much simpler.

  4. Have you looked what quantities it would take to get the board down under 2? I had been looking at a variety of trimmed down versions of the arduino as well, The obvious thing is to move the power and the usb/serial off the board as the serial is mostly used for downloading and debugging and the power ranging from 3-6V is usually application dependant. The shields are unwieldy and add another couple of bucks to the cost of everything Male/Female headers.

    I scrapped my design when I found a board which I was able to purchase for 1.75. I would still like to see the arduino reduced to an smt based board about the size of a postage stamp with the ports brought out to an stk500 compatible pin out which may or may not need headers and that would cost about 5 bucks with the cpu. The problem with the wiring and arduino folks is that like most art supplies the !$@!@# expensive.

    Most of this rant and relevant links are detailed on my blog

    Its not just about prototyping its about being able to roll to implementation without spending another 30.

    This is a nice looking design by the way.

  5. Hi Donald,

    leah buechley has made a smt arduino that fits in a drop of acrylic, you know like these chinese cheap toys we all like to explode 🙂
    it’s the size of a thumbnail and instead of a pcb it is made out of conductive fabrics, so it is reshapable…

    pics here:
    info and IDE here:

    j*b (dkbot paris)

    ps: hi limor, a little question, have you ever worked with garagegeeks people ? (they are dkbot related)

    ps2: tnx for your great tutorialz 🙂

  6. As the chip itself costs $2.50, its pretty much unlikely you will get it under $2 until the chip prices drop significantly. you could use something like the Ardunio mini but its more expensive (probably due to scale).

    You could probably get an ‘arduino stamp’ down to $7.50 in parts cost but if you what some point you have to wonder “what is an arduino”? I mean you can just buy said chip for $2.50, but then it wouldn’t have an oscillator, programming header, LED, 5V regulator, reset switch, etc. Those are things I would consider essential.

    The reason the arduino costs “so much” (personally, I think its actually quite reasonable for what you get) is the euro is very strong against the dollar and they don’t do manufacturing or assembly in china. For a lot of people, that is a reasonable trade-off.

    Although I will say, there does seem to be a demand for an ultra-barebones! 🙂

  7. j*b, Awesome link! I want one.

    Lady Ada, I was talking about just the board. I like your design alot. I disagree about the regulator but yeah that is what I am looking towards.
    The what I have been looking at from several layers. Mostly its a pretty decent c++ framework. I am considering writing the x-code templates
    to get rid of the ide and incorporate it into the next release of osx-avr

    As for your assessment of the cost and manufacturing I work in a country where I pay socialist country taxes and get to live in a fascist state.

    I am just trying to get the accessibility built into the diy, so I can do a workshop for our group.


  8. Donald:
    Sounds like you’re doing some really nifty stuff on the development side

    The PCB probably wont be available for $2 because, well, thats about what I pay for the PCBs to be manufactured (by advanced circuits)! so it’s likely to be $5 for a PCB. Since the biggest cost of PCB manufacture is ‘setup’ fees, making the PCB a bit smaller wont make a real difference in price until you order about 500. You can verify this for yourself by quoting at

    But since it will be open source so when it’s done, you are totally free to modify and fab your own boards however you choose.
    If you go with Gold Phoenix and shrink the PCB down to 2.5x.8 it will be around $1.50/each wholesale for ~75 pieces (that’s assuming you aren’t paying for testing). (see:

  9. Wiley Wilkinsen

    This is really nice – I really like the tighter format. Personally, I like the idea of having the onboard voltage regulator although the one thing that I’d get off of it if it were my design is that big honkin barrel jack – all of the other interfaces are informal why shouldn’t the power interface be informal too – e.g. just a couple of solder pts, a pair of dangling lines or maybe pin headers coming off of the board. Personally I think it would be nice to see this transition to SMT – of course then the line blurs between the arduino-stamp and this. Of course now that I think about it the bigger question that one might ask is why is the Arduino Stamp so expensive relative to the Arduino NG/Decimilia – it has far fewer parts, is significantly smaller and the individual parts are cheaper than the thru-hole version. So I guess would I’d really like is basically an arduino stamp in the $20 or under range. Yours is as close as i’ve seen though – nicely done and keep up the good work.

    My $0.02

  10. Wiley Wilkinsen

    Hey Ladyada, I’d be interested in finding out if you’ve considered making a nice simple ethernet arduino – hint, hint – even before the official comes out. It seems like on the surface it should be pretty easy since the enc28J60 has SPI serial interface couldn’t you more/less just tie it directly to the inbound serial lines? I think it would be really useful to have a simple/inexpensive single board ethernet arduino based on the original(current) 168 architecture. To be honest if the tinker folks were going to go to all of the work of modifying the arduino software and rewriting the libs for a different chip I wish they’d gone to something a little more inspired than the 32 like the 644 or even the 128. I’m guessing they wouldn’t do a 128 as they wouldn’t want to “compete” with the wiring board but the 644 would have been a nice choice – sorry I degress. anyway, +1 for a 168 arduino ethernet board!

  11. the arduino ‘stamp’ is expensive probably because they aren’t selling a lot. the barrel jack is big but, its also standard. you can plug in nearly any power adaptor. i like that its the same regulator and plug as the ‘standard’ arduino. but its really easy if you want to just remove the plug and solder in wires 🙂

    re: ethernet, sorry i’m not really likely to work on that as i’m already oversubscribed. you could offer to design your own. im also surprised they went with the ’32..but isnt it pin compatible with the ‘644? maybe it was just cheaper or more available? may want to ask ’em. i asked why not stick with the 168 and they said its much too small. then again, the bootloader is 2K and it really should be 1K so who knows. 😕

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