Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The $4 Arduino Clone

Along Comes Arduino

I have been tinkering with electronics ever since I was little. I got my first taste of micro-controllers using the PIC16C84. At the time the hobbyist electronics market was small and while programming the PIC was easy the learning curve was fairly steep. Along comes the Arduino and suddenly the barrier to entry is gone. Fast forward to present day, I got tired of leaving $30 worth of electronic parts for each project I wanted to do. So I decided to strip down the Arduino to only the most essential parts, so that I could harness the power of Arduino in my projects without feeling like I was throwing money away.

Parts List

22pF Capacitor2$0.02
100nF Capacitor4$0.04
10µF Capacitor1$0.01
10KΩ Resistor1$0.01
1N4148 Diode1$0.01
16MHz Quartz Crystal1$0.10
6mm Tactile Switch1$0.04
Grand Total:$6.07

This is all that is needed to build and program your own Arduino clone. The CP2102 is a USB to TTL converter it is used to program the chip. You only need one of these to program as many chips as you want. The CP2102 however does not work out of the box. You need to solder a male header pin to the DTR pin on the CP2102. More details can be found at


Assembly is best done on a breadboard to start following the schematic below.
You will need to procure a USB A to A cable in order to program this.

Closing Thoughts

The CP2102 is an optional part if you already have an Arduino or some other means of programming the ATMEGA chip. This brings the cost down $3.73 per clone. There are cheaper ways using the ATtiny85 ($1.29) but sometimes you need a little more horsepower. Or maybe you want to build the $8 web server.


  2. CP2102 Infomation