How do I go from arduino breadboard to creating a real device

How do I go from arduino breadboard to creating a real device

My first arduino project, I have made a headlight sensor that will activate an outside light when car headlights hit it.  I know I could go buy one, but where is the fun in that?
Now I would like to make a "real" one to mount outside my  house so I can reuse my arduino.
I really have no idea where or how to start.  I have had a look but can't find any info on this...I am sure someone here will be able to suggest something.


Answer 1:

I assume from your question you want the essential parts of an Arduino along with your circuit in a permanent form.

Here are my steps:

  1. Build the entire circuit on a breadboard or two. Then you know it all works.
  2. Transfer it to a permanent form of circuit, testing as you go.

Take it a step at a time, and it’ll work out nicely.

1. Build the entire circuit on a breadboard or two.

Then you know it all works, and that you have all of the components ready to make your permanent circuit

This will involve making and programming part of your Arduino on the breadboard. I don’t think you’ll need the USB part, so it can be through-hole components which are relatively straightforward to begin with.

Here is a link to instructions which show how to make an Arduino without USB.

It can be programmed using your existing Arduino, you don’t need a programmer. For example:

I’d make a sketch of the circuit schematic to ensure I understood what I had on the breadboard, and to guide the next step.

2. I’d recommend you transfer the whole thing to ‘veroboard’ (stripboard) rather than make a PCB.

Veroboard/stripboard will be much quicker and cheaper. You could easily spend 10x longer learning to use Eagle well enough to get a PCB made, than it would take to design and make the entire circuit on veroboard/stripboard.

You can do a design on squared paper, but there are some CAD programs to help if you google for veroboard CAD. I have never used them, I use paper and a soft pencil or a vector drawing package. A friend used PowerPoint because that’s what he had to hand.

Here is an example of someone who has built an Arduino on veroboard/stripboard.

It shows the design he produced for veroboard/stripboard. Try to get a reasonable layout for your design before making it. This is where the soft pencil and eraser come in πŸ™‚
Typically the first couple of attempts are too big or too small. Make it easy for yourself and get plenty of squared of graph paper πŸ™‚

This link shows what the process will look like.

You can follow veroboard/stripboard arduino design, and test that it works. Then focus on your extra circuit.

Use a socket for the microcontroller, and so don’t solder it in directly. Most of the other parts are a few $’s total, so I’d get a few of each part for spares and practice (To put it in context, some electronics companies charge more for delivery than those parts will cost, so getting several sets of parts makes sense, especially if you intend to make some more things).

Total cost for the Arduino part should be under $10.

Good luck, and I hope you enjoy it.

Answer 2:

Some others have mentioned the use of a shield. I’m gonna suggest trying your hand at your own PCB πŸ™‚ Although this tends to be a pricey/difficult/frustrating route, it’s easily the most educational.

Get yourself a copy of Eagle and have a play with the schematic editor. You should be able to copy most of this from your prototype. You’ll also find the arduino schematic a good reference for the bits on the dev board.

If you’ve already written software on your development board, then you should have a good idea of what is required in terms of flash/RAM size, counters, IO pins etc. It may take some digging to find out what the Arduino environment has actually used though, it tends to hide the technical details from the developer. The easiest thing might be to just use the chip on the arduino which I believe is the ATMega168.

Start browsing component supplier sites like Digikey and Element14 to find the components you need. Try and use things already included in the Eagle libraries, or try your hand at drawing your own footprints.

Then you can have BatchPCB fabricate your designs. Order all the parts you chose. Once everything has arrived, solder it together and pray it works when you switch it on πŸ˜€

Of course this sounds pretty daunting if you’re new to electronic design, just keep asking questions the whole time! Good luck πŸ˜‰

Answer 3:

Maybe go half way between Arduino shield and your own board using Arduino Pro or Pro Mini board

Pro – This board is designed for advanced users who want to leave a board embedded in a project: it’s cheaper than a Diecimila and easily powered by a battery, but requires additional components and assembly.

You just add your additional components.

Answer 4:

An easier way might be to make an arduino shield – you can get a prototype board in the shape of an arduino. Add whatever components you want to it and then simply plop it onto of the arduino.

Answer 5:

Draw a schematic, first, of the parts on the Arduino board that you are using, and any parts you have added, and how they are connected, and show us that. We can proceed from there.

You might need to get a PCB designed and made, and assemble it, or you could build the circuit on a prototyping board. Then you just plug the AVR from the Arduino into it, and it should start working just as the Arduino did.

Answer 6:

Go take a look at the MetaBoard. It’s a mostly arduino compatible board that you can etch at home on a single sided PCB. If you want to port what you’ve prototyped to a permanent board, this would be a good, well documented starting point.

Along the way, you’ll go grab a copy of Eagle for editing the design to your needs and pickup an in circuit programmer that you’ll need to program your homebrew board.

Answer 7:

My method is not far behind Cogsy’s. Instead of deep diving into eagle and the such, goto your local Radioshack, pick up some of there perf boards (circuit boards with a ton of holes in them). Setup the atmega328 with the necessary extras (1 external crystal with 2 capacitors, capacitor for power line filtering and resistor to pull reset pin high). Solder the chip/circuit to the perf board.

This method is a lot less daunting than starting off with a custom pcb. I recently just got started with electronics as well and this method was my next step. Now I do my own etching but that is the progression that most easily taken.

Good luck!

Answer 8:

you might want to consider using an ATTINY84 or 85 chip instead of an assembled arduino on the proto board. ATTINYs are great little chips that offer (almost) the same functionality as Atmega 328P (the Arduino chip), occupy very little space, and the same program can be ported from Arduino to the ATTINY. It also let’s you have your Arduino back after prototyping. A good starting point –