Improvements to Arduino

Preface

Everyone knows Arduino. It's a versatile board that is great for when you need to make some piece of hadware work really quick without building a custom board and writing low-level code. Ever since I discovered that board I've been using it where flexibility and speed of prototyping matter - robotics contests, mostly.
Now, considering Arduino is an open hardware, a lot of Arduino variations exist - actually too much to even try to list - and all of those clones try to either overcome some limitations that exist in original platform or add some useful functions to it.
This article is an aggregation of tricks for those who have an original Arduino board - some of those tricks are just improvisations I had to make up while I was working with Arduino, some of those I just found on the Internet and considered interesting.
Anyway, here's a collection of improvements:


Add a jumper to Vin pin

Original Arduino has a diode (D1) that protects the board from reverse polarity applied to DC jack connector.
Unfortunately, the creators didn't seem to want to protect Vin pin which serves the same function - supplying external voltage. For instance, accidentally shorting pins Vin and GND (they are located nex to each other) with power supplied from DC jack results in destroyed diode and burnt traces.

What you need to do is:

  • sever the trace from Vin to diode (which probably already blew during the short circuit),
  • replace a diode (definitely) and capacitors (maybe) - if an accident had already happened. Look for bulging tops on capacitors,
  • solder a preferably solid core wire between Vin pin and power jack.

Result:


Speed up and optimize


Convert to 3.3V

Here's a great writeup.

Make another

Bonus for those apt with soldering iron - a guide to making your perfect Arduino to suit all your needs.
1) Pick a microcontroller and make a basic Arduino board with whatever voltage and frequiency you want.
2) Add whatever you want to make it truly universal. For instance, I always found pin headers too flimsy for repeated use in prototyping. You could either make your board fit on a breadboard like this:
or replace pin headers altogether with screwless terminal blocks, possibly adding multiple headers for GND, 5V and 3.3V (three 5Vs, two 3.3Vs and 5 GNDs is what I consider perfect for most prototyping tasks):

To be continued

If you have some nifty hacks to add to this list, please write me back: headcra6 at gmail com.

Comments

  1. I am amazed this has not received any comments? I bookmarked this page, very usefull!!

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