Demo board

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Small PCBs (is there a better term than "small PCB" for the sorts of PCBs that are specifically designed to be hacked and modified -- they have pins that are perfectly aligned to be plugged into a solderless breadboard, or they have a prototyping area on-board?)

Designed to be used as a components.

Rather than buying a raw microcontroller, many people buy a small PCB that includes the microcontroller and other essential Popular Parts on a tiny little demo board, easy to plug into your solderless breadboard (or your custom PCB) that has just a few more things that make your project special.

Later I learn: "A plugin is a small electronic plug-in module capable of being plugged directly into a breadboard, that fulfills a (usually simple) function." I also discover some people call these things "DIP-like".


further reading

Demo board comparisons and reviews

Lists of demo boards

Demo boards, in no particular order

  • iRX Prototyping Board: a simple but malleable prototyping board for PIC based projects. It features the EEPROM programmable PIC16F84A, an MAX233 for RS232 port and infrared I/O. About half of the board is an empty prototyping area. Compare: Atmex.

by Brian Schmalz ... "The UBW board ... contains a Microchip PIC USB-capable microcontroller, headers to bring out all of the PICs signal lines (to a breadboard for example) ... costs about $15-$20 to build and is powered from the USB connection. ... All tools used to design this project are free, and the design is open to anyone to use for whatever they wish. Please build your own and improve upon it! If you don't want to build your own, you can buy them assembled and tested ... SparkFun hosts a USB forum where the UBW is a common discussion topic."

  • Sirius microSystems has several "easily hackable" development boards, mostly based on Microchip PICmicro. Also posts circuits and schematic diagrams under a "Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License", making them "open hardware".
  • microEngineering Labs, Inc. specializes in development tools for Microchip PIC® microcontrollers." Lots of completely empty boards designed to be stuffed with various PICmicro chips and associated components ... such as the $19.95 PICPROTO-USB -- compatible with 28 and 40-pin devices, this board is equipped with additional USB circuitry and connector for use with the USB-equipped PICmicros like the 16C745 and 18F4550.

  • Bread Board Power Supply -- a tiny little board that fits between a wall-wart and plugs into a solderless breadboard to supply regulated power. It accepts a wide variety of wall-warts because its full-wave rectifier and LM317 handle a wide range of AC and DC power supply, and its screw terminal headers let you plug in the wires.

  • Freeduino solderless breadboard Arduino clone; (plugs into solderless breadboard; based on Atmel AVR ATmega 168); the bare board is available, designed for all through-hole parts ...
  • A huge list of Makezine kits, a few of which ("Daisy MP3 player", some of the RepRap projects, "The IR-ritator", etc.) use PICmicros, a few others that use Atmel AVRs (TV-B-Gone, etc.), one that uses a Freescale processor ...
  • BlinkM, which can be used as a AVR ATtiny45 development board
  • SpinStudio, a system designed for development using Parallax's Propeller(TM) Microcontroller.
  • Atmex: An entry-level Atmel Experimentation System. less than $10; includes Atmel ATtiny2313; a DB-9 and MAX232 for serial communication and downloading new programs (using a bootloader); LED. About half of the board is an empty prototyping area. Meant to be better than the iRX board.

  • ...

  • Micromint sells little boards with DIP pinouts (and so can plug into protoboards) based on ARM7, Atmel AVR, and 8051 cores ...
  • ...

  • "The uCsimm module is a microcontroller module built specifically for the uClinux Operating System. It stands an inch high, with a standard 30-pin SIMM form factor. ... The uCsimm is driven by a Motorola DragonBall 68EZ328 processor, and comes well equiped with 2 MB of FLASH and 8Mb of DRAM. We have also included a 10Base-T ethernet and RS 232 high-speed serial."
  • "The Minotaur BF537 is a sub miniature Computer On Module ... 26.5mm x 26.5mm x 4.2mm ... 10/100 Ethernet MAC and PHY onboard ... uClinux support"

  • ...

  • Some people use the AT90USBKey as a prototyping board.
  • "Picotux was the smallest computer running Linux in the world. ... 35 mm × 19 mm × 19 mm and just barely larger than [its] RJ45 connector" and its DB9 serial connector. "... Two communication interfaces are provided, 10/100 Mbit/s half/full duplex Ethernet and a serial port with up to 230.400 bit/s. Five additional lines can be used for either general input/output or serial handshaking. ... 55 MHz 32-bit ARM7 Netsilicon NS7520 processor, with 2 MB of Flash Memory (750 KB of which contains the OS) and 8 MB SDRAM Memory. The operating system is µClinux" -- Wikipedia: Picotux

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