DIY Atmel Microcontroller Development Board




About: I'm an electronic hobbyist that likes to make stuff. :)

In this Instructables I am going to show you how to make a very useful development board for your favourite Atmel microcontroller that will help you save up to the third of the space on your breadboard and let you move your microcontroller around without any loose connections problems. It will also help you connect your programmer easily without the need of connecting all the cables individually with jumper wires every time, Only one simple connection will be needed and you'll be ready to program it.

I used an ATmega32A but this can be done with almost any Atmel microcontrollers (Through holes DIP pins one only) .

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Step 1: Gather the Parts Needed.

Here's what you'll need:

  • One 10 pin male header that has the same pinout than the programmer's connector that are very common on Computer motherboards and scrap circuit boards or it can be done with a male header strip 40 pin male header strip ($1.06 CA/$0.99 US for 10 pcs)
  • One 3 or 5mm LED (who doesn't have LED's???)
  • One 330 Ohm resistor
  • One Atmel microcontroller of your choice, I used the ATmega32A 8bit AVR microcontroller that I bought on ebay for only $3.02 CA/$2.38 US :) ATmega32A Microcontroller
  • One USB programmer, I used a super cheap USBasp programmer for only $2.60 CA/$2.05 US. USBasp Programmer

That's all! ^^

NOTE: all the links are from ebay sellers from china and it can take up to over a month before you receive your items.

Step 2: Solder the Famale Headers Strip to the Circuit Board

Break the female header strips at the same length than your microcontroller and place them on your circuit board making sure that the spacing is the same than your microcontroller.

Then, solder them at their end making sure they are strait. Now that they are holding in place solder all the pins to the circuit board.

Step 3: Bridge the Headers Together

Bridge the headers together with solder making sure you don't short any connections.

Step 4: Install the 10 Pin Programmer Male Header and Power LED

Solder the 10 pin male header to the circuit board and connect it to the microcontroller female header with solder bridges and wires following the datasheet of your microcontroller.

Connect the power indicator LED cathode (-) to GND (5V-) and the anode (+) to one end of the 330 Ohm resistor and connect the other end of the resistor to VCC (5V+).

Now you're ready to test it to make sure everything is working.

Step 5: Test It!

First of all before plugging it for the first time, check all your connection making sure they are all connected at the right place and that nothing is shorting out.

Make sure that the jumper on the programmer is selecting the right voltage for your microcontroller (3.3V or 5V).

Plug the USBasp programmer into a USB port of your programmer and test... The LED on the programmer and your development board should turn on, without everything burning into smoke!

Setting up the Cheap USBasp to work with Atmel studio isn't easy so if you want, request an Instructables on how to set it up and I'll gladly do it for you guys. :)

Hope you enjoyed my Instructables and found it useful.

Have fun and feel free to follow, comment and share.


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    14 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Wow, what you share is useful.
    Thank for sharing, i'm learning AVR now and looking for some way to make this circuit.
    Thank you again.

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    You're welcome! Let me know if you need help with anything. c:


    4 years ago on Introduction

    i was wondering if this is possible to do this on a breadboard. It takes probably half the time and less hassle to solder :/

    3 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    The thing is if you put the Microcontroller on your Breadboard and connect it to the programmer with jumper wires, you might get some unstable connections while data transfers and not to forget that depending on the Microcontroller you are using it can take up to half the space on your Breadboard which could be an issue in some cases.

    If you want to use your Microcontroller for prototyping I would recommend building this useful development board but if it's to build a complete circuit that you'll all solder to a board at the end, I think you'd be better be off using your Breadboard.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Ok, thanks! But I also had one question in mind also, Can it also be possible if i use some other microcontroller instead of an atmel, I tried getting one and it seemed difficult


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    Yeah, as long as you have the right programmer for it and that you connect it correctly it should work just fine. :)

    Atmel microcontrollers are not really hard to find, You can get the ATmega32A for about three bucks on Ebay.


    4 years ago

    Great stuff. I recently bought a programmer, a ch341a. It came with diddly squat except a couple male headers and a mysterious little piece of silicon breadboard about equal in size. When I bought it, there was an expressed "you'd better know what you're doing" warning. I had intended to use this to learn about such programming. However my extensive online research on the subject had returned many goose eggs and a data sheet that would be helpful if it were in English, or at least any Latin based language. But alas no. You said to request an instructable if we had questions. This is mine. Please take pity on this humble padowan gelfling diy-er and assist me in making sense of this contraption and its use.

    3 replies

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction


    I said that I could make an instructables on how to make work the cheap USBasp programmer with Atmel studio but that CH314A programmer, There is no info on it at all so I really don't know how you could make it work :-/

    I found the datasheet in English if it can help.

    I am running Windows 7 but I'm quite sure it's mostly the same thing on Windows 8.1.

    I can't explain it to you just like that so I guess I'll have to make another Instructables! :)


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction


    The Microcontroller is supplied from the programmer but can be supplied from any 5V regulated Power source.

    I'm using the internal crystal as I didn't want to mess up the fuse bits and didn't need it for my applications as I just started to learn AVR programming.