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$20 "Neutrino 2.0" is a tiny Arduino Zero clone

Jul 25, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 3240 views

Rabid Prototypes is crowdfunding a $20 “Neutrino 2.0” version of its earlier, tiny Arduino Zero clone. Rev 2.0 adds RX/TX pins and several other tweaks.

Like last year’s Neutrino clone of the Arduino Zero, Rabid Prototypes chose Kickstarter to launch Neutrino 2.0. The latest campaign has four days to cover the last $700 or so of its $5K goal.

Not much has changed on the Neutrino, but $20 is not bad for a neat little clone of the $50 Arduino Zero. There are also volume discounts at up to $150 for an order of 10 boards. Like the Zero, it runs Arduino code on a 48MHz Atmel ATSAMD21G18 Cortex M0+ MCU and uses the Arduino IDE.

Neutrino 2.0 from both sides (left) and connected to Atmel ICE
(click images to enlarge)

Aside from the lower price, the main reason to choose the Neutrino 2.0 over the Arduino Zero is its size. It continues to measure 1.4 x 0.7 inches (36 x 18mm) compared to 2.7 x 2.1 inches for the Zero. Both attributes are the same as with version 1.0, although about a third of the 173 backers of last year’s product enjoyed an early bird special of $18 during that campaign.

Neutrino 2.0 pinout and other details
(click image to enlarge)

The Neutrino 2.0 swaps out the USB OTG circuit for “an inexpensive very low forward voltage diode to isolate the battery from the USB supply,” and replaces the micro-USB AB connector with a less expensive B connector, says Rabid Prototypes. The new version also adds RX/TX pins, and replaces the 3.3V LDO regulator, reset button, and status LED with “house parts,” says the company. The new reset button is slightly larger.

Neutrino 2.0 PCB layout
(click image to enlarge)

Rabid Prototypes promotes a few other features including the ability to program with the Arduino IDE via the micro-USB port or the Atmel-ICE debugger. In addition, the board’s green LED works as a power, as well as status, indicator.

The 10-bit DAC can connect to an amp to play .WAV files from the audio library, says Rabid Prototypes. The Neutrino 2.0 also has the same power-pin pinout as Adafruit’s Pro Trinket, making it compatible with that device’s USB LiPo charging pack.

None of these changes were significant enough to make it to the spec list, which appears to be identical to version 1.0. The specs also appear to be almost identical to the Arduino Zero except that there are six fewer digital I/O pins. Like the Zero, this is an open source board, so you can make your own Neutrino variant.

Specifications listed for the Neutrino 2.0 include:

  • Processor — Atmel ATSAMD21G18 (1x ARM Cortex M0+ @ 48KHz)
  • Memory — 32KB RAM; 256KB flash
  • Other I/O:
    • Micro-USB OTG port
    • 14x digital I/O pins (12x PWM)
    • 6x analog input pins (12-bit ADC channels)
    • Analog output pin (10-bit DAC)
  • Power — 3.3V with 3.7-5.5V input and 3.3V, 300mA output; 3.3V, 7mA I/O pin limits
  • Dimensions — 36 x 18mm (1.4 x 0.7 in.)

Further information

The Neutrino 2.0 is available on Kickstarter through July 29 for $20. More information may be found at the Neutrino 2.0 Kickstarter page, and eventually at the Rabid Prototypes website.

(advertise here)

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