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Tiny Arduino clone starts at $14

Jul 20, 2017 — by Eric Brown — 2,351 views
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A 15 x 15mm “Arduino Pico” board has launched on Kickstarter with a Leonardo-compatible 16MHz ATMEGA32U4 chip and a micro-USB port.

A Toronto based startup called MellBell Electronics is closing in on funding its Arduino Pico Kickstarter project. Billed as “the world’s smallest Arduino board,” the Arduino Pico measures 0.6 x 0.6 inches, or approximately 15mm squared. This can’t quite beat the recent, 12 x 12mm, $18 µduino, which similarly offers an Arduino Leonardo compatible ATMEGA32U4 MCU. However, the Arduino Pico is available for $18 (early bird) or $20 in Canadian dollars, which translates to $14 or $15.50 U.S.



Several views of the Arduino Pico

The 16MHz ATMEGA32U4 integrates 2.5KB SRAM and 32KB flash, 4KB of which is used by the bootloader. The 1.1-gram Arduino Pico adds to this with 8x digital I/O pins, 3x analog inputs, a PWM channel, and a reset button. (By comparison, the µduino gives you 14x digital I/O and 6x analog I/O ports, plus 2x ground ports, a reset, an analog reference voltage port, and 6-pin ICSP programming ports.)


Arduino Pico detail view
(click image to enlarge)

Like the µduino, the Arduino Pico provides a micro-USB port. The open source board draws 7-12V power with 5V operating voltage, and each I/O pin uses 40mA. There’s also a $32 ($25 U.S.) Aluminum Pico, which offers a more robust aluminum PCB instead of fiberglass.


Arduino Pico schematic and PCB layout (left) and plugged into breadboard
(click images to enlarge)

 
Further information

The Arduino Pico is available on Kickstarter through Aug. 17, starting at CA$ 18 ($14 U.S.) for an early bird version, with shipments expected in November. In addition to the CA$ 32 aluminum version, there are volume discounts, including a multi-color pack. There’s even a CA$ 960 ($759) special edition kit with multiple boards, a micro drone kit, and more. More information may be found on the Arduino Pico Kickstarter page.
 

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4 responses to “Tiny Arduino clone starts at $14”

  1. Max says:

    Not sure how many people have an actual need for a “tinyest” Arduino (given it will typically end up plugged into a bigger PCB), but manufacturing Arduino clones is a fool’s game and best left to the Chinese these days – there’s no competing with the $3-4-5 DIP-24 ones they sell, especially considering I can get those locally right here in the EU. Being able to get a full Orange Pi with WiFi for $20 or so (also locally) sort of puts things into perspective…

    • Goblin says:

      Cheepest China Fundoino clone costs around $1,50. Of course if one needs full GPU acceleration, RPi is the best choice.

  2. Jeff says:

    Seems like the esp8266 would kill this right away, since the esp01 package is pretty similar sized and has WiFi. Or else the attiny would win in size/cost. I made a bike brake light with an accelerometer that could have used something like this.

    • hidden (like a ninja, only not as well) says:

      Yeah ESPs are great – the extra SRAM (64KiB!) is a massive plus – playing an animation on a 16×16 led matrix (effectively several frames of 256px rgb bitmaps rather than anything procedural) is rather nice (and won’t fit on most Arduinos) – controlling and flashing over wi-fi!

      Wifi can apparently be disabled to save power too.

      Buying them singly, you can get a breakout/dev board/chip delivered for <£3 GBP. The MCU on its own is as little as £1 (bought singly).

      So that's maybe 4x ESP8266 breakout boards for the price of one pico.
      Wemos d1 mini is ~35x26mm, so 3 or 4 times the size, but still small, and with more pinouts.

      I'd imagine the pico uses far less power than the ESP – for tinkering and Prototyping, the ESP is great, I can see things size the pico being useful for low power, solar etc. if there's limited space for an enclosure.

      Vs the ATTiny, looking it up (I've nevused one), the Digispark Kickstarter range of Dev boards are a little bigger than the pico, but not much in it. The Tiny has a higher clock speed, but 0.5K of RAM and only 8K storage, so it's a bit limiting. That said, the Digispark is ~£1 delivered, so I'll definitely keep them in mind for less demanding projects.

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