Preparing Arduinos for BarCamp

Nate and I have been hard at work getting Arduino microcontrollers ready for BarCampMadison.  We first attempted to etch, populate, and solder up our own Arduino clone that could be made as cheaply as possible:
The problem we immediately ran into was populating headers on the bottom side of the board.  Because a homemade board isn’t through-hole plated (connecting the top and bottom) we run into the challenge of soldering parts on the “wrong” side of the board to get electrical connection.  The only solution would be to get wire wrap headers and flip the board upside down to hook it on the breadboard.  Taking a step back, we realized that teaching people and having a good experience was more valuable than saving our precious few dollars so we bit the bullet and bought boards!

Adafruit Industries sells something surprisingly similar to what we were trying to build (we found out about this only after failing above) called the Boarduino.  Using our hacker space discount (~10% off at minimal quantities) we purchased 10 Boarduinos to use with our CP2102 eBay usb->serial adapters, bringing a total per seat cost with breadboard to $23.

The next step was putting them together!  Of course the header on the CP2102 adapters and the programming header on the Boarduino don’t play nicely, so we need to put an adapter cable in line:

Nate sat for many hours on Sunday soldering, testing, and more soldering to get these Boarduinos assembled:

But everything is working great.  As a side note, you’ve likely noticed we’re using official Apple white USB extension cables, being Apple products they’re intentionally hobbled from being useful as anything besides what they were designed for, so they’ve kindly installed unique USB jacks to prevent their use as extension cables:

Note the tiny tab in the center of the top of the jack, prevents plugging in a normal USB cable

We can remedy this with a 800 pound instrument of precision destruction:

Everything is soldered up and ready to go for BarCampMadison, hope to see you all on Saturday, 10AM, US Bank Building!

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