Ever since I started making projects for Arduino, I’ve had a desire to shrink them down to a single, small circuit board. One of my former projects, a Smart bike lighting was made on Arduino UNO, which limits the project’s success in terms of optimal size. For that purpose, I will introduce multiple ways to shrink your overall project by using different micro-controllers that run on the same Arduino language.
The Arduino Nano is a small, complete, and breadboard-friendly board based on the ATmega328 (Arduino Nano 3.x) or ATmega168 (Arduino Nano 2.x). It has more or less the same functionality of the Arduino Uno, 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. It comes with 6 PWM I/O from the total of 14 digitals I/O, 8 analog inputs, 16Mhz clock speed and 32kB of flash memory. This is a great alternative when making projects for Arduino that are size restrictive.
Remember to change the board in your Arduino software (IDE)
Figure 2 : Setting the board on Arduino IDE
Arduino Pro Mini
The Arduino Pro Mini is a microcontroller board based on the ATmega328. It has 14 digital input/output pins (of which 6 can be used as PWM outputs), 6 analog inputs, an on-board resonator, a reset button, and holes for mounting pin headers.
There are two version of the Pro Mini. One runs at 3.3V and 8 MHz, the other at 5V and 16 MHz. A six pin header can be connected to an FTDI cable or Sparkfun breakout board to provide USB power and communication to the board.
As you may see, Arduino Pro Mini has no USB; so programming projects for Arduino here is a bit different than the UNO or NANO.
There are two ways available for programming Arduino Pro Mini:
Very carefully remove the Atmel IC from the Arduino UNO, the pins are very fragile so be careful
Check your model for the Arduino pro mini version (i.e. 3.3v or 5v).
Connect UNO’s pin 5v (or 3.3v) to mini’s main VCC pin:Using any FTDI chip which already has an embedded USB, so you can connect to your PC and upload your sketch normally.
Figure 4: Arduino pro mini connection with FTDI board
As always change your Arduino software to your current connected board
Figure 5: Setting the board on Arduino IDE
Choose the corresponding processor with corresponding clock frequency.
Using Other Arduino version as an ISP device to upload the sketch to the Arduino Pro mini
UNO’s pin GND to mini’s main GND
UNO’s pin RX to mini’s RXI
UNO’s pin TX to mini’s TX0
UNO’s RESET to mini’s RST
If you have simple projects for Arduino that use only a few pins, you might be able to shrink it down to a single 8-pin ATtiny chip.
Move the files after you uncompressed it into the hardware folder of Arduino folder
Open Arduino IDE choose Examples-> Arduino ISP -> ISP
Upload it to your Arduino UNO board
Connect attiny to Uno as below
Figure 7: Programming Attiny with an Arduino Uno board
Figure 8: Attiny85 pins
Write your code that you want to upload on attiny (Don’t upload yet)
Choose the attiny board from Tools -> Board -> Attiny85 (if you don’t find it, check the hardware folder in the folder location of the Arduino software above)
Choose Programmer -> Arduino as ISP
Then upload your code from Sketch -> Upload using a programmer
Arduino Micro packs all of the power of the Arduino Leonardo in a smaller size. It’s an 8-bit microcontroller, with 32K of flash, and 2.5K of RAM. You can program it directly via the USB micro connector. It’s based on the ATmega32u4 processor.
Figure 10: Teensy v2.0
The Teensy is a complete USB-based microcontroller development system, in a very small footprint, capable of implementing many types of projects for Arduino. It’s available as an 8bit or 32bit board. It’s Arduino compatible and can be programmed by USB easily just like any Arduino board.
This is one of my favorite microcontrollers on the market right now. Here are some of its best features:
Powerful STM32 ARM Cortex M3 microcontroller
Broadcom BCM43362 Wi-Fi chip
18 mixed GPIO pins and a web-based IDE (similar to Arduino IDE)
Can be programmed by a mobile app with absolutely no connection to hardware
Small size and low cost
By the time you read this there will be even more new devices in the market.