Tag Archives: Pro Mini

Which Arduino board is right for you?

Picking an Arduino is as easy as Uno, Due, Tre! 

Thinking about starting a project? See which Arduino board is right for the job.

Arduino Uno

This popular board — based on the ATmega328 MCU — features 14 digital input/output pins (of which 6 can be used as PWM outputs), 6 analog inputs, a 16 MHz ceramic resonator, USB connection, power jack, an ICSP header and a reset button.


The Uno does not use the FTDI USB-to-serial driver chip. Instead, it features the ATmega16U2 (ATmega8U2 up to version R2) programmed as a USB-to-serial converter.

In addition, Revision 3 of the Uno offers the following new features:

1.0 pinout: added SDA and SCL pins that are near to the AREF pin and two other new pins placed near to the RESET pin, the IOREF that allow the shields to adapt to the voltage provided from the board. Note: The second is not a connected pin.
Stronger RESET circuit.
  • ATmega16U2 replace the 8U2.

Arduino Leonardo

The Arduino Leonardo is built around the versatile ATmega32U4. This board offers 20 digital input/output pins (of which 7 can be used as PWM outputs and 12 as analog inputs), a 16 MHz crystal oscillator, microUSB connection, power jack, an ICSP header and a reset button.


The Leonardo contains everything needed to support the microcontroller; simply connect it to a computer with a USB cable or power it with a AC-to-DC adapter or battery to get started. Plus, the ATmega32U4 offers built-in USB communication, eliminating the need for a secondary processor. This allows it to appear as a mouse and keyboard, in addition to being recognized as a virtual (CDC) serial / COM port.

Arduino Due

The Arduino Due is an MCU board based on the Atmel | SMART SAM3X8E ARM Cortex-M3 CPU.


As the first Arduino built on a 32-bit ARM core microcontroller, Due boasts 54 digital input/output pins (of which 12 can be used as PWM outputs), 12 analog inputs, 4 UARTs (hardware serial ports), an 84 MHz clock, USB OTG capable connection, 2 DAC (digital to analog), 2 TWI, a power jack, an SPI header, a JTAG header, a reset button and an erase button.

Unlike other Arduino boards, the Due runs at 3.3V. The maximum voltage that the I/O pins can tolerate is 3.3V. Providing higher voltages, like 5V to an I/O pin, could damage the board.

Arduino Yún

The Arduino Yún features an ATmega32U4, along with an Atheros AR9331 that supports a Linux distribution based on OpenWRT known as Linino.


The Yún has built-in Ethernet and Wi-Fi support, a USB-A port, a microSD card slot, 20 digital input/output pins (of which 7 can be used as PWM outputs and 12 as analog inputs), a 16 MHz crystal oscillator, microUSB connection, an ICSP header and 3 reset buttons. The Yún is also capable of communicating with the Linux distribution onboard, offering a powerful networked computer with the ease of Arduino.

In addition to Linux commands like cURL, Makers and engineers can write their own shell and python scripts for robust interactions. The Yún is similar to the Leonardo in that the ATmega32U4 offers USB communication, eliminating the need for a secondary processor. This enables the Yún to appear as a mouse and keyboard, in addition to being recognized as a virtual (CDC) serial?COM port.

Arduino Micro

Developed in conjunction with Adafruit, the Arduino Micro is powered by ATmega32U4.

The board is equipped 20 digital input/output pins (of which 7 can be used as PWM outputs and 12 as analog inputs), a 16 MHz crystal oscillator, microUSB connection, a ICSP header and a reset button. The Micro includes everything needed to support the microcontroller; simply connect it to a computer with a microUSB cable to get started. The Micro even has a form factor that lets the device be easily placed on a breadboard.

Arduino Robot

The Arduino Robot is the very first official Arduino on wheels. The robot is equipped with two processors — one for each of its two boards.


The motor board drives the motors, while the control board is tasked with reading sensors and determining how to operate. Each of the ATmega32u4 based units are fully-programmable using the Arduino IDE. More specifically, configuring the robot is similar to the process with the Arduino Leonardo, as both MCUs offer built-in USB communication, effectively eliminating the need for a secondary processor. This enables the Robot to appear to a connected computer as a virtual (CDC) serial?COM port.

Arduino Esplora

The Arduino Esplora is an ATmega32u4 powered microcontroller board derived from the Arduino Leonardo. It’s designed for Makers and DIY hobbyists who want to get up and running with Arduino without having to learn about the electronics first.

The Esplora features onboard sound and light outputs, along with several input sensors, including a joystick, slider, temperature sensor, accelerometer, microphone and a light sensor. It also has the potential to expand its capabilities with two Tinkerkit input and output connectors, along with a socket for a color TFT LCD screen.

Arduino Mega (2560)

The Arduino Mega features an ATmega2560 at its heart.

It is packed with 54 digital input/output pins (of which 15 can be used as PWM outputs), 16 analog inputs, 4 UARTs (hardware serial ports), a 16 MHz crystal oscillator, USB connection, a power jack, an ICSP header and a reset button. Simply connect it to a computer with a USB cable or power it with a AC-to-DC adapter or battery to get started. The Mega is compatible with most shields designed for the Arduino Duemilanove or Diecimila.

Arduino Mini

Originally based on the ATmega168, and now equipped with the ATmega328, the Arduino Mini is intended for use on breadboards and projects where space is at a premium.


The board is loaded with 14 digital input/output pins (of which 6 can be used as PWM outputs), 8 analog inputs and a 16 MHz crystal oscillator. It can be programmed with the USB Serial adapter, the other USB, or the RS232 to TTL serial adapter.

Arduino LilyPad

The LilyPad Arduino is designed specifically for wearables and e-textiles. It can be sewn to fabric and similarly mounted power supplies, sensors and actuators with conductive thread.

The board is based on the ATmega168V (the low-power version of the ATmega168) or the ATmega328V. The LilyPad Arduino was designed and developed by Leah Buechley and SparkFun Electronics. Readers may also want to check out the LilyPad Simple, LilyPad USB and the LilyPad SimpleSnap.

Arduino Nano

The Arduino Nano is a tiny, complete and breadboard-friendly board based on the ATmega328 (Arduino Nano 3.x) or ATmega168 (Arduino Nano 2.x).

The Nano has more or less the same functionality of the Arduino Duemilanove, but in a different package. It lacks only a DC power jack and works with a Mini-B USB cable instead of a standard one. The board is designed and produced by Gravitech.

Arduino Pro Mini

Powered by an ATmega328, the Arduino Pro Mini is equipped with 14 digital input/output pins (of which 6 can be used as PWM outputs), 8 analog inputs, an on-board resonator, a reset button and some holes for mounting pin headers.


A 6-pin header can be connected to an FTDI cable or Sparkfun breakout board to provide USB power and communication to the board. Note: See also Arduino Pro.

Arduino Fio

The Arduino Fio (V3) is a microcontroller board based on Atmel’s ATmega32U4. It has 14 digital input/output pins (of which 6 can be used as PWM outputs), 8 analog inputs, an on-board resonator, a reset button and holes for mounting pin headers. It also offers connections for a lithium polymer battery and includes a charge circuit over USB. An XBee socket is available on the bottom of the board.

The Arduino Fio is intended for wireless applications. The user can upload sketches with an a FTDI cable or Sparkfun breakout board. Additionally, by using a modified USB-to-XBee adaptor such as XBee Explorer USB, the user can upload sketches wirelessly. The board comes without pre-mounted headers, facilitating the use of various types of connectors or direct soldering of wires. The Arduino Fio was designed by Shigeru Kobayashi and SparkFun Electronics.

Arduino Zero

Last year, the tandem of Atmel and Arduino debuted the Zero development board – a simple, elegant and powerful 32-bit extension of the platform. The Arduino Zero board packs an Atmel | SMART SAM D21 MCU, which features an ARM Cortex M0+ core. Additional key hardware specs include 256KB of Flash, 32KB SRAM in a TQFP package and compatibility with 3.3V shields that conform to the Arduino R3 layout.


The Arduino Zero boasts flexible peripherals along with Atmel’s Embedded Debugger (EDBG) – facilitating a full debug interface on the SAMD21 without the need for supplemental hardware. Beyond that, EDBG supports a virtual COM port that can be used for device programming and traditional Arduino bootloader functionality. This highly-anticipated board will be available for purchase from the Arduino Store in the U.S. on Monday June 15th.

Arduino AtHeart

The Arduino AtHeart program was specifically launched for Makers and companies with products based on the open-source board that would like to be clearly identified as supporters of the versatile platform. The program is available for any device that includes a processor that is currently supported by the Arduino IDE, including the following Atmel MCUs:

Participants in the program include startups like:

EarthMake – ArLCD

The touchscreen ArLCD combines the ezLCD SmartLCD GPU with the Arduino Uno.


Bare Conductive Touch Board

The ATmega32U4 based Touch Board can turn nearly any material or surface into a sensor by connecting it to one of its 12 electrodes, using conductive paint or anything conductive.


Blend Micro

The RedBearLab integrated dev platform “blends” the powers of Arduino with Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy into a single board. It is targeted for Makers looking to develop low-power IoT projects in a quick, easy and efficient manner. The MCU is driven by an ATmega32U4 and a Nordic nRF8001 BLE chip.


littleBits Arduino Module

The fan-favorite Arduino module, which happens to also be based on an ATmega32U4, lets users easily write programs in the Arduino IDE to read sensors and control lights and motors within the littleBits system.


Smart Citizen Kit

An Arduino-compatible motherboard with sensors that measure air composition (CO and NO2), temperature, light intensity, sound levels, and humidity. Once configured, the Smart Citizen Kit is capable of streaming data collected by the sensors over Wi-Fi.


Arduino powers this ‘Etch A Sketch’ laser cutter

Martin Raynsford and the JustAddSharks crew has created a rather unique Arduino-based ‘Etch A Sketch’ laser cutter.

“What happens when you combine a love of laser cutters with a love of cool 70’s toys and an Arduino? An ‘Etch A Sketch’ controlled laser cutter of course,” Raynsford wrote in a recent blog post.

“I always wondered… what if I could control my laser cutter just like drawing lines on an ‘Etch A Sketch’?”

The JustAddSharks crew kicked off their impressive project by using a Blacknose Laser Cutter, bypassing the control board to drive the laser tube and stepper motors. An [Atmel-based] Arduino Pro Mini (ATmega168) controller was then patched into the machine’s wiring using the existing connectors to interface with the Leetro controller.

“The schematic shows the connections we made into the control system. The onward items like the stepper motors or laser tubes have not been drawn because they were not modified and use all the existing wiring,” Raynsford explained.

“The [Atmel-based] Arduino Pro Mini (ATmega168) works as the controller. The analogue input pins are configured for use as general IO to provide the additional number of inputs required from the rotary encoders. The pulses for the stepper motor drivers are provided by the Timer 1 PWM hardware module. The laser module power is controlled by Timer 3.”

The software, says Raynsford, is relatively simple. When the machine is activated, the laser attempts to drive to the zero position. Meanwhile, both X and Y axis are driven until they hit the end stops. Once both axis are pressed against the limits, the controller moves the axis forward again until they no longer press the switches. The controller then moves the laser head to a ‘Home’ position – a fixed distance from the zero spot.

“When the laser has reached the Home position it is ready to run. The stepper motor drivers require far more pulses than the rotary encoders provide,” Raynsford noted.

“If it was left with a one to one relationship you would need to turn the dial a dozen times to get noticeable movement on the axis. The software detects rotation on the dials and creates stepper motor pulses for a set period of time, this scales up the number of output steps for each input.”

The final version of the handheld Etch A Sketch controller is custom built from laser ply and stained red with Mahogany wood dye, while the screen is actually layer of baking paper to give the device a frosted plastic look.

Interested in learning more about the Arduino-based ‘Etch A Sketch’ laser cutter? You can check out the project’s official page here.

The Makers of Iron Man

A Maker by the name of Ryan Brooks – aka “the real Tony Stark” – has created a slick 3D-printed, nod-receptive Iron Man helmet.

According to Terry Chao of DVICE, an Atmel-powered Arduino Pro Mini (ATmega168) and an Adafruit accelerometer allows the helmet’s faceplate to open and close based on which way the wearer nods.

“By nodding backwards, the faceplate seamlessly opens and locks into place, while nodding with a forward motion will close it. Brooks is currently selling iterations of his servo mechanism on his website, starting at $150,” wrote Chao. “Because the helmet’s base is tapered towards the bottom by design, Brooks made it possible to keep the shape of the original helmet through reticulating back neck flaps that allow the wearer to comfortably put it on.”

Brooks also equipped the helmet with some “Jarvis” voice action to inform the user if it is booted up and ready, along with appropriate air lock and “whoosh” sound effects when the faceplate opens and closes. Meanwhile, light blockers are tasked with protecting the wearer’s eyes from the bright LEDs in the mask.

Of course, this isn’t the first Iron Man project Bits & Pieces has covered. Back in September, we reported how a Maker by the name of Thomas Lemieux turned numerous heads when he showcased his rather impressive Iron Man suit at the 2013 World Maker Faire in NYC.

“Everything is Arduino powered. There are four Arduino UNOs (ATmega328) in the suit; one for each bionic replusor, one for the sound board, and one for the arc reactor. All of the components are powered by ten 2600 mAh batteries that had to be ordered from Hong Kong,” Lemieux told Electronic Design. “The sound components for each repulsor and the sound board are wave shields from Adafruit. The SD cards with all of the sound files are located there.”

According to Lemieux, the project actually began with the arc reactor.

“I wanted one to sit on my desk at home and thought it would be cool to build one myself. So I walked the aisles at Home Depot and found any part that would seem to work,” he explained.

“The fins are cut from a solid sheet of metal and I used copper coils to bend around them. I used a sink tap as the center piece. And the rest is washers, rubber tubing and erector set pieces all J-B welded together. I got all of the electronics and LEDs from Radio Shack.”

Lemieux also told Electronic Design that the biggest challenge in designing the suit was fitting all the electronics into such a constrained space.

“It was very much trial and error… I started building on May 2nd, spending about four hours a day plus many all-nighters.”

Lemieux says his next suit will be more streamlined and easier to assemble.

“I also want to make Ultron. I have some great ideas on lighting his face up,” he added.

Video: Arduino powers this self-balancing robot

The IdleHandsProject crew has designed a slick, self-balancing robot using an Arduino Pro Mini (Atmel ATmega168) and an IR sensor.

The wheels and motor were taken from a smaller IR vehicle, cut in half and soldered with an old battery mount to the lower part of the Arduino. The IR switch was selected simply because the Sean Hodgins of the IdleHandsProject crew didn’t have a gyro/accelerometer on hand at the time.

“Its just a simple on or off that determines the direction of the robot. There is a potentiality on the IR switch that needs to be changed depending on the surface,” Hodgins wrote in a recent blog post. “Also because the motor is so tiny, I’m able to power it directly from the Arduino. A two motor version [would] most likely have to run a motor controller (which is also on the way).”

As HackADay’s Mike Szczys notes, the black PCB seen to the right of the robot is the IR reflectance sensor.

“[Basically], it shines an IR led at the floor and picks up what reflects back,” he explained. “The board [also] has a trimpot which is used to adjust the sensitivity. You have to tweak it until it stands on its own… [Remember], self-balancing robot builds are a great way to teach yourself about Proportional-Integral-Derivate (PID) algorithms used in a lot of these projects.”

Interested in learning more? You can check out Sean’s official project page here.