Boarduino + FTDI Friend

I’ve been thinking more and more that it’d be useful to explore smaller form factor Arduinos and clones for future space restricted projects – and though there’s plenty to choose from as a start I opted for the Adafruit DC Boarduino (Arduino Clone) Kit (w/ATmega328) – v1.0 for $17.50 and “a tweaked out FTDI FT232RL chip adapter” in the FTDI Friend + extras – v1.0 for $14.75.

My previous experience of other Adafruit kits – such as their Motor/Stepper/Servo Shield – gave me confidence it would be well documented and supported – and this particular combination seemed both cost-effective and flexible… saving $7.50 on the USB version – albeit losing the USB power and USB-serial converter, rx/tx LEDs and the rx/tx 1K series resistors… and $5.25 on the standard USB FTDI TTL-232 cable yet gaining “a little extra – in this case it’s the extra-long headers that you can use to plug it into a breadboard, or a 6-pin extension cable (which will also let you rearrange the wire order). There are also blinkies, 2 red & green LEDs that pulse when serial is sent or received. In a pinch, you can even use it to program AVRs (it’s a bit slow but works!).”

The Boarduino Overview page outlines the noticeable differences between the Boarduino and the Arduino and the specifications for the DC version and the FTDI Friend page deals with installing drivers, identifying ports etc. Overall there’s plenty of useful info, schematics, tutorials and building guides on the Adafruit site, example projects in the Boarduino category on the Blog and troubleshooting tips in the Other Arduino Forum.

So having plugged a mini USB cable into the FTDI Friend I identified its port name in Terminal on OSX 10.6.x as /dev/cu.usbserial-A900acGw. I then plugged its 6-pin socket directly onto the 6-pin header for FTDI-USB cable on the Boarduino – now externally powered by a 9V battery.


I built the Arduino Button circuit on the breadboard and attempted to upload the sketch – and initially just got the error message:

avrdude: stk500_recv(): programmer is not responding

but reading the forums I realised I hadn’t soldered in the auto-reset capacitor to the Boarduino and so had to manually press the on-board reset button immediately after uploading from the Arduino IDE – and it worked – yay!

I’m now planning to use the Boarduino for my ‘Swear Bear’ – my One Button Challenge device… but reckon I may also need to buy the Boarduino Proto Shield “Allows you to mount a Boarduino onto a prototyping shield, and add regular shields to your Boarduino” so I can connect it to the SOMO-14 Audio-Sound Module.

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