Introduction: Palm Arduino Kit

Picture of Palm Arduino Kit

UPDATE: Read about the first journey of Palm Arduino Kit, here!

I do travel many times a year, sometime I went with family, took relatives, friends, to places in US, for days, may be for weeks, even for a month, when I traveling aboard to visit my family once a year.

Previously, I left my Arduino project(s) untouched for the duration of the traveling. And most of the time, after i got back, I had to start the project over, because I was already forgot where it was left off. During the time of traveling when I got some idea for prototyping, I could not do anything since I did not have Arduino stuffs at hand. And I missed working on the project(s) very much while I was traveling.

This time I planned to do something about it! And this was I prepared them for. A Palm Arduino Kit.

The kit contains:
A DIY palm size Arduino compatible board
A mini breadboard (Commercially available)
A DIY 5V Portable Voltage Regulator (Step 6)
A MOD FTDI cable (See my FTDI adapter instructables details here.)
A MOD 2" Long Antistatic IC Container.
2.25" Wide x 3.75" Long x 1" Hinge Plastic Box (Commercially available)

Palm Arduino

Whenever I look at 28-pin DIP ATMega328 IC, I always wonder do I have to use it this way all the time, with the pins hang out beside it body. Could I just straighten it out and do something similar to Freeform Arduino? And don't have to use PCB just like the Freeform Arduino, but make it more portable than Freeform Arduino. The other criteria that I use to design this palm Arduino is that it would be small enough to be with some other components to be fit inside 2.25" Wide x 3.75" Long x 1" Hinge Plastic Box.
So the Palm Arduino is born! And I made it to be only 1.5" wide x 2.5" long x 0.5" thick. 

Step 1: Parts and Tools

Picture of Parts and Tools

The schematic for the palm Arduino is exactly the same as my Freeform Arduino.

And I would like to thank ColorBomb, an Pro Instructables friend, who volunteer to make the schematic in the better format than my had drawn schematic. Thanks for your time and generosity.


Arduino compatible:

1 no.  ATMega328P with Arduino Bootloader
1 no.  3mm Green LED
1 no.  1K Resistor
1 no.  10K Resistor
1 no.  16Khz Resonator
2 nos. 0.1uF Capacitor
1 no. 1x6 Male Header
1 no.  1x14 Female Receptacle
1 no. 1x4 Female Receptacle
1 no. 1x6 Female Receptacle
2 nos. 1.5" wide x 2.5" long, 1/8" thick clear Acrylic sheet
Plastic Standoffs
Some hookup wires

4 nos. 2-56 Round-Head Machine Screws (Radio Shack# 64-3010)
4 nos. 2-56 Steel Machine Hex Nuts (Radio Shack# 64-3017)

Portable 5V Regulator
(See details instructables here)

9V Batterry
9V Battery Holder
Slide switch
78L05 Voltage regulator, package: TO-92
100uF Electrolytic capacitor
10uF Electrolytic capacitor
1N4001 Diode
2-pin Female receptacle
Hookup wire
5/8" x 1" Perf board
5/8" x 1" Double sided foam tape


The tools that I used in this project are:
Solder iron and Solder station
Hookup Wire
Diagonal Cutter
X-Acto Knife
Wire Stripper

Step 2: Straighten the Pins

Picture of Straighten the Pins

First, I used the needle nose pliers to bend the straighten all tithe pins of ATMega328P IC out horizontally.
Be careful when bending the pins out, too much force could break the pin. Take your time, do it gently.

After all the pins were straightened out, I soldered a lead of 10K resistor to pin#1 of micro controller. And I soldered another lead of the resistor to VCC pin of 6-pin,FTDI male header. (See diagram on picture 4)

Next, I connected TX pin of 6-pin, FTDI male header to RX Pin of micro controller (pin#2). And I connected RX pin of 6-pin, FTDI male header to TX pin of micro controller (pin#3)

Then, I soldered a lead of 0.1uF capacitor to DTR/RTS pin of 6-pin, FTDI male header. And I connected another lead of capacitor to RESET pin (pin#1) of micro controller.

Step 3: Added Power and Ground

Picture of Added Power and Ground

Next step, I connected the GND and CTS pins of 6-pin, FTDI male connector to pin#20 and continue to pin#8 of ATMega328P.

And I connected VCC pin of 6-pin, FTDI male connector to Pin#22 and also wired it to pin#7 on ATMega328P too.

Then I soldered 0.1uF capacitor horizontally to pin#7 and pin#8 on micro controller. (Picture 2)

Picture 3 showed how I soldered the 16 KHz resonator onto the micro controller. First, I aligned the middle pin of the resonator, which laid flat perpendicular to micro controller and on top of 0.1uF capacitor, to pin#8 of micro controller, and soldered them together.
Then I soldered the right most pin of the resonator to pin#9 of micro controller. 
I bent the left pin of resonator up vertically, then connected this pin to pin#10 of micro controller with hook-up wire.

Step 4: Bring Out the Pins

Picture of Bring Out the Pins

Soldered 1x4 Female receptacle to pin#5, 6, 7, 8 of ATMega328P.

Soldered 1x6 Female receptacle to pin#1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6 of ATMega328P.

Soldered 1x14 Female receptacle to pin 9, 10, 11, ..., 26, 27 ,28 of ATMega328P respectively.


Inserted 5mm LED the Positive lead of LED goes to pin 22 (GND pin nest to A0), and the Negative lead of LED goes to pin#19 (D13).

Connected the 6-pin connector of FTDI cable to our Arduino, make sure that the BLACK wire on FTDI connector goes to the GND pin on Arduino's connector.

Then I uploaded the blink.ino from the Basic sample of Arduino IDE.

The LED blinked! Voila, it worked!

Later I decided to added 3mm test LED, by laid it horizontally. Then connected Positive(+) pin of the LED to GND pin of 6-pin, FTDI male connector, and connected Negative(-) pin of the LED to 1K Resistor. And I connected the other lead of 1K resistor  to pin#19 (D13) of ATMega328P (picture 5).

Step 5: Make the Case or Cover

Picture of Make the Case or Cover

I cut 2 nos. 1/8" thick Acrylic to the size of 1.5" wide x 2.5" long. 
Blur the edges and clean them, before wrapped them together tight with masking tape.
This way, I could drill the holes that would located exactly on the same spot on both top and bottom cover.

Before I drilled four holes at the corners. I marked the shape of the Arduino onto the cover. So the holes would not be blocked by the Arduino and it would have enough space for  the plastic standoffs.

I drilled the holes just big enough for 2-56 machine screws, I used rounded head screws.

I prepared three pieces of double sided foam tape and used them to secure the Arduino to bottom piece of Acrylic cover (Picture 5).

And I installed the four 2-56 screws from the bottom cover. Then inserted the standoffs, I trimmed the height of those standoffs to be about the height of the body of the ATMega328 before closed the top cover with the 2-56 hex nuts.

I added the pins label sticker on later. So I do not have to find out which pin is which, and prevented me from inserted the FTDI cable (in my case FTDI dongle) in the wrong direction!

The 2-56 screws extruded out a little farther than needed. So I trimmed them out to flush with the hex nuts. And blurred them with the sand paper.

Again, I tested the Arduino. It's working properly!

Step 6: Portable 5V Regulator

Picture of Portable 5V Regulator

Please follow the link below to see how I made this 5V Portable Voltage Regulator from 9V Battery.

Portable 5V Regulator

Picture 2 and 3 show how to connect the palm Arduino to the 5V Portable Voltage Regulator.

Step 7: Complete Kit

Picture of Complete Kit

Complete Kit

Pocket Arduino
5V Voltage Regulator
My FTDI Cable MOD.
Mini Bread Board
2.25" Wide x 3.75" Long x 1" Hinge Plastic Box
2" Long Antistatic tube for spar IC, for example LM555, L293D (thoese are in the tube as shown)

Now, I am ready to travel with my pocket Arduino! Of course I'll have a bag of jumper wires pack ready in my laptop case as well.


keanurusty1 (author)2016-03-20

I made mine off of the second drawn picture and i havent put the resonator on yet , i tried to program it but it keeps giving me the not in sync error do you need the resonator for it to work?

germap (author)2016-01-19

Thanks for sharing this piece of knowledge. Really useful!

dhinesh.bala.12 (author)2015-02-09

Can you say how to connect with these

how to dump the programmes inside

rellik1000 made it! (author)2014-10-25

Love the concept,If you have to purchase most of it a pre built pro mini is really cheaper,just add the headers.I actually bent straight headers at 90 to reduce the height.Jewel box plastic,although it is brittle.Size comes in at 2x1.25x.25 inches.Thanks for the awesome idea.

Wow close up i should have cleaned up the solder job a bit.

mpeachey1 (author)2013-10-26

Is it possible to make the Palm arduino with a crystal instead of a resonator? if so how would you do it?

sath02 (author)mpeachey12013-10-27

Yes, you could use crystal (16Mhz) with two 22 pF capacitors.
Here is a link to schematic that shows the connection of the crystal and capacitors,
Look at pin 9 (XTAL1) and 10 (XTAL2) of the IC1 on the schematic.
Hope this help.

mathesen1097 (author)2013-07-29

so the AREF is basically a programmable voltage output pin?

sath02 (author)mathesen10972013-07-29

Usually, AREF pin is used in conjunction with analog pin (A0 - A5) when we want to get the precision reading from an analog pin. By feeding the AREF pin with a reference voltage from an external power supply.
I'm really bad about explaining stuffs, but I can give you some links that I found very useful regarding AREF, here they are:
both provide good explanation and have sample sketches on the usage of AREF.

Hope this help!

mathesen1097 (author)2013-07-28

Thanks a whole lot sath02!! You have helped me a whole lot!!!! P.S. I am fan of your palm arduino and am hoping to make a kit of my own!

sath02 (author)mathesen10972013-07-28

You are welcome!
Let me know if you need any help.

mathesen1097 (author)2013-07-28

I am planning on making this on a perfboard and I was wondering if the AREF & AVCC are the power and I also got the same resonator you got from SparkFun and I was wondering if it is polarized. It would be great if I heard something from you

sath02 (author)mathesen10972013-07-28

AREF is analog reference pin you can look at the AREF details and description here:
AVCC needed to connect to VCC (pin number 7 on ATmega328).
The 16Mhz resonator is not polarized, the middle pin on the resonator needed to connect to GND.

acerpeng229 (author)2012-11-20

Can anybody send the pdf of this palm arduino instructables and the 5v regulator instructables?

acerpeng229 (author)2012-10-23

Does this work like a real arduino? If so, I don`t have to buy an arduino. Is it true?

sath02 (author)acerpeng2292012-10-24

Hi acerpeng229,
Yes, it works exactly as Arduino. Because the micro controller has the Arduino's bootloader.

acerpeng229 (author)sath022012-11-16

thanks and oh yeah, can i use this cable?,r:18,s:0,i:122

sath02 (author)acerpeng2292012-11-16

Yes, that is FTDI cable!

acerpeng229 (author)sath022012-11-16

thanks, i`m gonna save a lot of money with this.

sath02 (author)acerpeng2292012-11-17


amorarun (author)2012-09-08

I really liked your instructable. I haven't started using arduino's but intended to buy one (Arduino Leonardo). Hopefully after getting used to it, I will make one of your version. Thanks for the nice instructable and keep up the good work.

sath02 (author)amorarun2012-09-08

I like Arduino Leonardo too. With it built-in USB communication make it much more convenient to use than other Arduino.

joe wong (author)2012-08-25

Hi. Did I read it wrong?? Your diagram and your friend's on tx and rx are different. Does it still work? Thanks. Joe.

sath02 (author)joe wong2012-08-25

Hi Joe,
You have a good eyes!

The TX and RX things got me confused all the time! Sorry about that!
Anyhow, the diagram had been revised and corrected.


DoctorWoo (author)2012-07-29

I managed to get all the need parts for this, however. I managed to make a mistake with one of the parts, and I now have a two pin resonator verus a three pin.
I was curious, is the ground pin needed? Or is there some what to get ground-age from a two pin resonator?

sath02 (author)DoctorWoo2012-07-30

Oops :( Sorry to hear that.
I'm afraid the resonator is unusable. Yes, the ground pin is needed!
If there was some part of the ground pin still there, you might want to try to solder to a wire to extend it.

DoctorWoo (author)sath022012-07-30

It's actually just a two pin. sorry to make it sound like it was a three pin, but I broke it!
I thought that was the case, but I figured I'd ask. thanks!

sath02 (author)DoctorWoo2012-07-30

Oh! I misunderstood your question! My bad!
In this case you bought a crystal not the resonator.
Check if your crystal is 16MHz?

The resonator that I used already has built in capacitors.

So you will need two, either 18pF or 22pF ceramic capacitors.
Then connect one pin of a capacitor to one of the crystal pin, and connect the pin from the crystal to pin 9 or X1 on the micro controller.
And connect the other pin of the capacitor to ground.

With the second capacitor, connect to another pin of the crystal, an connect this pin from the crystal to pin 10 or X2 on the micro controller.
Connect the other pin of the capacitor to ground.

This should solve the problem!

DoctorWoo (author)sath022012-07-30

Ah! Ok. Yeah, I'm a bit new to the resonator/crystal scene. This is the first application I've seen them in.

Unfortunately, I don't have capacitors of that level in my stash, and I would have to order them (kind of live in a electronic part lacking part of the state) and I may just get the needed resonators.
However, that trick with the capacitors and crystals should be handy in the future!

I've actually started "groud breaking" on this, and I ran into one more snag (hopefully my last!). I have a MicroFTX ( and I don't know where the DTR lead of your FTDI port would go on that plug.

Thanks again for all the great help!!

sath02 (author)DoctorWoo2012-07-31

Have you try to upload the sketch, i.e. blink led to Arduino board? And if it work?

I look at MicroFTX and saw that this FTDI converter used IC, FT230X instead of FT232R.
This chip only have 16 pins. There are only RTS# and CTS#. And it doesnot have DTR pin!
In your case, you could connect RTS from this breakout board (MicroFTX) to RESET pin on ATmega328. And connect CTS to ground.

DoctorWoo (author)sath022012-08-03

I've yet to wire it all up yet. Been a bit tied for time the past few days.

But I do want to double check the pins, just to make sure I got it all right. So going from the breakout to the Ardunio:
RTS > Pin one

sath02 (author)DoctorWoo2012-08-03

TX from MicroFTX goes to pin number 2 (or D0) on Arduino
RX from MicroFTX goes to pin number 3 (or D1) on Arduino
This is very important.


mikesoniat (author)2012-08-01

Nice Instructable! I travel quite a bit for business and this is a great idea to allow me to work on projects in my "spare time" during travels. Thanks!

sath02 (author)mikesoniat2012-08-01


meanpc (author)2012-07-29

Ingeniously awesome instructable! What is the best source you have found for the 328 w/ bootloader?

sath02 (author)meanpc2012-07-29


I usually bought a pre-loaded boot loader from
The boot loader is Adafruit's own version of boot loader.
You can look at the details at the link stated earlier.
On the web page also mention how to upgrade the boot loader.
But sometime I used the standard boot loader available from Arduino IDE as well.

DoctorWoo (author)2012-07-22

I'm looking to make this, ad I have one question...and it's probably a rather silly one at that, but: would it be possible to build the FTDI dongle into the system itself? I managed to pick up a rather small one, and I was on ht path of portability, and had the idea of building one into the system, but was unsure if that would cause any problems.
Thanks in advance!

sath02 (author)DoctorWoo2012-07-22

This is how the FTDI is used in the kit. (picture below)

There are a lot of existing Arduino Compatible board that's integrated the FTDI chip onto the board, for example, Adafruit's Boarduino. (

Go for it! And shows us what you did.
If I could be anymore help please let me know.

DoctorWoo (author)sath022012-07-22

Once I got it all set, I certainly will share!
However, the one thing I'm still a bit scared of is the power source. I'm thinking of hooking up the FTDI port behind the male header. That is to say, I'll have the wires from the FTDI port wired up on the inside side of the male header for the port. With that port wired up like that, will hooking up the power source damage it?

The nerdling (author)2012-07-21

you should start selling these, they're great!!!!
i want one

sath02 (author)The nerdling2012-07-22

If I won one of those Laser Cutters in Hurricane Laser Contest I will. LOL

Or If I have a lot of money to hire peoples to bend the pins out, I will. ;)
Let's see. May be I'll come up with something.
Need to do a lot of feasible studies.


joserbn (author)2012-07-20

class! i think you also gave a good idea for materials for a hands-on arduino start up workshop!

sath02 (author)joserbn2012-07-20

Class? Workshop?
Where, When?
Can I attend?


jackjackboom (author)2012-07-19

My complete kit includes a servo, LEDs, a motor, breadboard, screwdriver, jumper wires for the breadboard, and a full size Arduino Uno board. All in two Altoids tins!

sath02 (author)jackjackboom2012-07-19

I like your kit. Very nice.
I like the way you placed The breadboard on top of the tin can.
I'm sure you would be able to do a lot of experiment while you were traveling!
Good job!

Thanks for showing.

jackjackboom (author)sath022012-07-19


Boost (author)2012-07-16

Very neat and tiny. What do the airports say when you have this improvised electronical device with you in your luggage?

ToolboxGuy (author)Boost2012-07-19

1) Don't carry anything flammable, or soldering irons.
2) Your cell phone could much more easily be used as a device for evil, with more electrical juice than a nine volt battery, and certainly more brains.
3) Put it in your luggage going under, and right on top.
4) Clear cases work best, not hidden in a mints box. Put a label on it.
5) Put LOTS of useless mini screws in with it, and maybe a micro screwdriver.
6) Tell them what it is - an all purpose testing circuit with programmable capabilities - you're studying to be an EE, building a toy for your kid, the list goes on. The truth is the fastest way through the line.

That being said, no matter what I do -
I get checked and sent over nearly every time I go to the airport, whether I am early, late, on time, you name it. Are 6'4" ponytailed white guys with beards are also being profiled...?

They had three of us off to the side one time at the airport - honest. On the flip side, I once accidentally carried my Leatherman in my carry-on, through the screener, and no one noticed, and that was 2 months after 9/11.

Hmm - I am usually carrying two cell phones and a laptop and a GalaxyTab - maybe my tech is being profiled?!

sath02 (author)Boost2012-07-16

I used to carry similar type of PCB both prototyping board and the commercial available PCB with me when I was traveling abroad. And there was any trouble at all.

What I always do when I travel with these (improvised) electronic devices:
I would leave them in the carry on baggage, disconnected al the wires, and take the battery out of the battery holder. Turn the thing off.

I never carry them in my pants pocket, to avoid the pad down.

Here are the link to two well know airlines regarding the dangerous goods restriction, and electronic devices.

This on is a link to safety travel web page regarding the battery and battery powered device -

crackHacker (author)Boost2012-07-16

this would be what i need to know as well. am i going to get rubber gloved when i walk in LAX or will i be able to leave with my viginity! *insert peter griffen* sounds as needed.

pfred2 (author)2012-07-16

The biggest downside I am seeing here is your ATMega IC isn't socketed. I am under the impression that a big part of this Arduino stuff is swapping the IC. I suppose the addition of a socket would defeat the purpose of keeping the build size down though. Seems like a high price to pay to me though in terms of flexibility. Still looks like a great build.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am Electronic Visualization Artist. I look at things through the Looking Glasses.
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