The LA Robotics Club founder Annika O’Brien has started a Kickstarter campaign for a new low-cost, Arduino-compatible, microcontroller (MCU) development platform. The goal of the project was to design a very small and cheap development board that could easily be built and repaired by even a electronics novice. It looks like that goal has struck a cord with the community, as the Kickstarter campaign currently stands at an impressive 1,292% funding level, with another 9 days to go.
The development board, which does not appear to have a name, features a ATMEGA328 processor with 6 analog input/output pins, a dedicated digital output pin, and of course LEDs you can make blink to your heart’s content. An interesting feature of this board is that the FTDI USB adapter, which allows for programming the chip, is not part of the main board. The main board plugs into the FTDI adapter for the purposes of programming, and then can be removed so it can operate on its own.
This is a big improvement over boards such as the Arduino, as it allows the board to be smaller and lighter, perfect for robotics use. You could have one FTDI programmer, and an infinite number of development boards which you connect up to it only when new code needs to be uploaded into it.
Its been designed from day one as a completely open source project, and the schematics and bill of materials will be released once the Kickstarter campaign has completed for anyone who wishes to build their own. Though with a target price of $5, most people will gladly pay the retail price.
Backing a Winner
Even though this particular Kickstarter is a resounding success, you would be wise to back it anyway, if nothing else but to get in line for your own development board. The $15 pledge level is probably where most people want to be, as that will get you an assembled board and FTDI programmer shipped anywhere in the USA (add $5 for international shipping).