How to build a 5$ Arduino (clone)


If you are like me and build projects with Arduino, you must have felt the frustration with ripping your project apart, because you wanted to build something else with that Arduino. I have had the same issue many times, so I decided to find a way to solve this once and for all. Hence, how to build an Arduino clone for less than 5$.

Warning: Now before we continue a warning. This post explains how to build Arduino cones for less than 5$, but it will mean that you either get creative with you current Arduino to program the Arduino bootloader, or you invest a bit in a standalone ISP programmer and a FTDI interface board (total about 20$ one time investment).

The reason we can build a relative cheap Arduino clone is that Arduino consists of the following parts:

– USB to serial converter (also known as FTDI)Arduino_core

– ATMEGA328p with oscillator and bootloader

– 5V power circuit

– Bunch of headers

Now to build that 5$ Arduino clone, all you need to do is burn a ATMEGA328p with a bootloader (or buy one with bootloader), add the 5V power supply and use a FTDI USB to serial converter, like described in detail here.

So where do I get these cheap ATMEGAs? You can buy them at for instance Sparkfun or Adafruit with or without bootloader. Or at digikey for 3.16$ or if you buy 25 for even less than 2$.

Presto: With a bit of time and patience, you can build your own Arduino clones on breadboard or a piece of protoboard for less than 5$.


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