*duino

Solo and ZIFduino

I decided to name the new board Solo. As in, the chip is flying solo. The order has been processed with the manufacturer, now it's just a matter of time.

Aside from a few minor layout changes, it's exactly the same as posted in my previous entry. Once they come in I'll verify that everything's okay and get it up on http://www.bittyware.com both as kits and fully assembled boards.

On a side note, I'm also going to be assembling the remaining ZIFduino boards and offering them for the same price. The immersion silver process starts to degrade after a while, and the remaining boards are starting to show some signs of deterioration. Not enough to affect the final product, but enough to take action before it does. If there's demand, I'll be doing another run of kits after making a few tweaks. I really like the automatic power source detection of the Arduino Duemilanove and have every intention of incorporating that.

Oh yeah...

I spent so much time setting it up, I forgot to mention it. I created a store to sell the ZIFduino at bittyware.com. Only two boards have sold so far, but I haven't advertised at all. A naked board sold to the person I assume is running the Fundamental Logic store. They make a teeny tiny version of the Arduino. Whether it's to put it to use, curiosity or checking out the competition, they never got back to me to let me know.

A full kit sold to a rocketeer who goes by Tweeks. He'll be using it for programming chips to handle telemetry and and ejection controller in his rockets. Sounds pretty damn cool. He put together a great instruction page at theweeks.org/rockets/2008-06_ZIFDUINO.

New Board, Better Layouts

I took a good long look at the traces on the prototype, and decided it's just too ugly to unleash upon the world. I ripped up everything and did it all by hand. It looks much nicer now, and I've been able to reduce the vias to four (there used to be 45!).

You'll notice there's a change in the name. That's because there's a new board in town...

It's Official

As with any type of branding, using the name Arduino or any derivative of it (like ZIFduino) on an Arduino-like project requires permission, especially if it's going to be a commercial project. I just heard back from the Arduino team, and they've given their blessing for me to use the name ZIFduino for the upcoming kits, along with some nice comments on the project in general. I was also told they have something else in the works that looks to be a pretty cool thing for the community at large, but I'll wait until they make an official announcement before saying anything. I will say that I intend to participate.

ZIF 1.2

The 1.2 prototype is a big success. I've gotten some good feedback so far, and the final version should be going out for production within the next several weeks. With some minor documentation changes this thing will be finished.

Apologies for the crappy picture...

ZIF 1.1 Update

As I suspected, the crystal was bad. I finally got the batch I ordered, and the board is working like a charm now. It can be programmed via USB, and all the pins are working as expected. Happy day.

Here we go again...

After looking around at all the shields people are making based on the Decimilia board, I decided it would be best to start over using that as a template. The goal here is to make a board that's compatible with what's out there so it's actually useful instead of being a novelty item. I spent all day trying new layouts and wrestling with traces, and I'm pretty comfortable with the result:

ZIF update

It's all put together, but after quite a bit of troubleshooting it looks like the crystal I used is bad. Of course I don't have another one on hand, so if the local Radio Shack doesn't have one I'll have to order it.

On a side note, It used to be that you could head on down to the local Radio Shack and get what you need. They were even out of a good number of fairly common resistors last time I went. Wish me luck...

Every time this kind of thing happens I get closer to opening my own store.

Update update...

Cheater over at the Arduino forums reminded me that I was being stupid. In all that effort, I spaced out the fact that the ATmega168 has an internal oscillator. After setting the right fuses to tell it to use the internal clock, it works just fine until I get around to replacing the crystal. The only drawback is it won't communicate with the Arduino programming software via USB until it's fixed. Good thing I just got my hands on an AVR programmer.

It's here

The board arrived today, and while I see a problem with the mounting holes being waaaaay too close to the edge, I don't expect to have any other issues. I'll be going over the layout to be sure the surface mount pads are okay and to make sure I have all the parts, then on to assembly. The new tips for my iron won't be in until Thursday so it won't be assembled before the weekend.

In the meantime, here's some eye candy:

ZIFduino prototype

ZIFduino

The first time I saw the Arduino, I thought to myself, "where's the ZIF socket version?" It turns out that nobody's taken the time to design a board for it yet. The typical reasoning is the desire to keep the cost to a minimum. That's an excellent point, because a ZIF socket can add 50% to the cost of the assembled board. Well, I've bent the pins on an ATMEGA-168 for the last time, dag nabbit, and I don't care what it costs any more.

I spent several hours getting to know Eagle a bit, grabbed the Freeduino sketch and board files at http://www.freeduino.org/freeduino_open_designs.html (they have a through-hole version) and started tweaking. Here are the results:

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