Christmas gifts for geeks (pt 4) Arduino Edition


arduino Bare Bones Board Macro

Introduction – just in case you haven’t renewed your geek card for the past year (decade?) Arduino is a term that refers to a microcontroller on a board that has certain hardware and software ‘shortcuts’ figured out. It was designed to be as plug and play as possible, and to lower the barrier to entry for people who want to let their computer interact with the physical world. The programming language is fairly simple and very well documented, and it is a matter of minutes between installing the software and uploading your first program! Like I usually do, there is an amazon store here in case you don’t want to read my witty banter.

arduino – the meat and potatoes of this whole shebang.
The cool thing about arduinos are that even if you already have one, you canalways find a use for another! You can set them up to ‘talk’ to each other. You can leave a project set up after finishing it, or be able to prototype multiple projects at the same time. Also, there are a wide array of shapes and sizes (and prices) of arduinos, and each one is suited for a different application.


You can start out with the ‘classic’ Duemilanove. It is the original form factor, and most of the shields are built to fit this one. This is a great one to use for prototyping, and if need be you can use a smaller board in your finished project. If this is your first arduino I would recommend getting the kit which includes jumper wires, a breadboard, some LEDs, resistors and a pushbutton. That way you can start making things blink as soon as you get it out of the box!

arduino mega
MEGA – The arduino mega is just like the Duemilanove except that it uses a bigger chip, is a bigger board, and has more inputs and outputs. Most of the code is portable across the two. If you have a project that needs more i/o’s than the smaller chips, then this is right up your alley!

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Removing the auto reset in Bare Bones Board Arduino

I’m currently working on a project that requires the Arduino to accept serial input from my mac. This would ordinarily be fine, but the auto-reset function means that the arduino resets whenever I send it data, and then it forgets the data!

I emailed Paul at Modern Device company to ask if there was an easy way to remove the auto rest function. Luckily there is! He said that the capacitor closest to the reset button is the one responsible. To remove auto reset you can remove the cap, cut the trace above or below the cap, or even remove the dtr line from the ftdi cable!

Here is a shot showing the assembled board. The cap is the blue guy poking out from behind the reset button.

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Freeduino Bare Bones Board Build (w/Macro shots!)

Last night I built two Freeduino Bare Bones Boards. I had two kits. One was from Moderndevice, and one was from MAKE. They were essentially the same kit, but different versions. There was one resistor difference I believe. The first kit took me quite a while to put together – probably about an hour. The second kit took about half of that. They were really quite straightforward. Put the parts in in the order they suggest and solder them up. You could even put them in in the wrong order – it would just make holding them in the board while you flip it over harder.

There were two sticking points in the instructions – (1) they say you need 4 of the small caps and they give you 5. You really need all five. (2) for some reason I read the debugging instructions at the end to say “troubleshoot if the light doesn’t turn off” as opposed to “if the light doesn’t turn on”

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