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Introducing the Microboard Form Factor

I'm very happy with the form factor of the updated Babyduino PCB - it's small, neat, plays well with my Clixx docks and is still breadboard friendly. Although the layout is similar to an Arduino (but has correct 2.54mm pin spacing) the pin to CPU mapping is designed for use with Clixx - making project development a lot more flexible and easy.

Meet the Microboards

Shortly after testing those boards I designed a handful more with the same form factor for a range of different MCU chips - each one provides the bare minimum support circuitry needed to put the target CPU in the heart of a project and be able to program it in place with a simple 6 pin FTDI header (no more damaged legs from popping the CPU out of the circuit and into a programmer to update the firmware). I've called the new project Microboard and the repository will contain everything needed to build up the hardware and boot loader firmware needed. I'll document each board here as it is completed.

So far I have boards for the following devices:

  • ATmega8/88/168 - this is essentially the Babyduino in a new form factor. * NXP LPC1114 - the 28 pin DIP version of their ARM Cortex M0 range. * PIC 16F1827 - a low power 18 pin device from the intermediate PIC range. * PIC 32MX150/32MX250 - the 28 pin DIP version of Microchips MIPS based 32 bit processors.

    Each of the chips above are in DIP format, making the board easy to make for yourself regardless of your soldering experience. My goal is to be able to swap the core processor of any project with a minimum of fuss as requirements change while still using the same Clixx docks and peripherals you started with.

    Microboard with Clixx.IO Docks

    Another benefit of the form factor is the ability to make daughter boards similar to Arduino shields. Although the design is geared towards using Clixx for prototyping I can see the possibility of merging commonly used function combinations into a single daughter board freeing up Clixx slots for more experimental use.

    The ATmega based board is already fully functional and the LPC1114 board should work immediately as well (the LPC1114 has a serial boot loader in the ROM so no additional software support is required). Both the PIC16F and PIC32 boards will require a bootloader (and host software to transfer code to the device) - it might be as simple as just selecting an existing implementation or there may be a need to roll my own.


    This is an ongoing project, I'll be working on it as I have a need for each of the CPU's for various projects. I've already discovered one problem - I used the wrong PCB footprint for the LPC1114 chip. A small hack (shown to the left) lets me work around it but the board will be updated.

    As usual the project is released under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license so you are free to use and modify it in your own projects.