L.O.G. $10 Arduino




About: Lazy Old Geek

There are probably thousands of articles on making an Arduino. So who needs another Arduino? Well, this Lazy Old Geek(L.O.G.) needs one. Here’s the features I would like:

Low cost
More permanent than a breadboard
Not a custom PCB
More prototyping area than a RBBB or Anarduino or Boarduino
Easier prototyping than just perfboards
Compatible with USB-BUB and my Arduino USB


Step 1: Parts List:


Most of the electronic parts were purchased or can be purchased and are priced from:


 Radio Shack Multipurpose PC Board with 417 Holes $2.19

1 AtMega328 IC bootloader  $4.00 (ebay?)
1 28 pin IC socket                   $0.07
1 16MHz resonator                  $0.17
1 10K resistor                          $0.01
2 0.1uFd capacitors                $0.02
1 6pin male header                 $0.02

Optional LED:
1 1k resistor                            $0.01
1 LED                                      $0.01

Optional 3V Aref:
(Don't install these unless your script requires Aref to be set to 3 volts.)
1 3.2K resistor                       $0.01

My Arduino USB                   $3.99

My calculations says that's about $10.50 for a working Arduino clone with USB. I think that's a pretty good price.

Step 2: R.S. Multipurpose PCB

Radio Shack Multipurpose PC Board with 417 Holes $2.19

Why I chose this board:
Designed for standard ICs, similar to breadboards
Two strips running between 'IC pins' for power and ground
Connected outside rows
The component side is painted to match the copper side

Now using this PCB is similar to using a breadboard but one of the difficulties at least for this Lazy Old Geek is that you put the components on the non-copper side but make most of your connections on the solder side.

Another difficulty is using the two center strips as power and ground.

Well, I came up with a clever way of designing and documenting the PCB layout. I do not have much expertise with CAD software like Eagle so I used Microsoft Excel. If you are not familiar, Excel is a spreadsheet program that can create documents that can also be read by Open Office and Google Docs.

What I did is create a spreadsheet where each hole in the PCB is represented by a cell in the spreadsheet (See picture or ArduinoTemplate.xls). So this is a representation of the physical PCB. When adjacent pads are connected like the strips down the middle I filled the cells with the same color.

The cells contain descriptions of what’s in them for this circuit.
E.g., the AtMega socket is labeled for pins 1-28.

NOTE: The picture/spreadsheet represents the solder side or bottom of the IC, so the pins are opposite what you might expect. For the AtMega off to the sides, I put in some signal descriptions.

I also labeled the ground (light blue) and power strips (pink)

Components are marked by the holes where they will be put.
E.g., C1 and C1. The resonator has three pins so it is Rs, Rs, Rs.

The six pin male header for the USB adapter is called RS232 and is identified by its pin names, Gnd, 3.3V, 5V, Tx, Rx, DTR

Resistors and capacitors have two lead and they are located by the same identifier, e.g. C1 for one lead and C1 for the other. Further instructions are at the bottom.

Step 3: Soldering It Up

Soldering to these copper pads is not easy. After sitting around, the copper oxidizes. It would probably help if you scrubbed it with Scotch Brite or maybe an eraser.

One of the difficult parts is wiring up power (5v) and ground for the AtMega IC. Now sometimes if the signal and pin are the same side, it’s just a matter of soldering a little jumper across.
22 Gnd
7   5V

But sometimes they cross over
20 5V
8   Gnd

For these, I took a stiff piece of wire and jumpered over the other bus. (see picture). The wire is stiff and short so shouldn't bend very easily. Now this is probably not the best way to do this but it works for me. If this concerns you, you can put some insulation on the wire.

For R2 on the top side of the PCB, I stripped off some insulation from some 22AWG wire and slip it over the resistor leads.

Note: I put some red nail polish on the DTR side of the USB-RS232 connector. This matches up to my Arduino-USB and my USB-BUB so that I can connect it up correctly.

Note: I marked Gnd and 5V on both sides of the PCB with a Sharpie.

 After soldering everything up, carefully check for shorts. I had several. My soldering is pretty bad. I should have cleaned the PCB before I started working on it. Still, after I removed the shorts, everything worked.

Step 4: Using LOG Arduino

Schematic is similar to RBBB without the power supply.


Hook up an Arduino USB, load ‘Blink’ and see if the LED blinks. You might have soldered the LED in backwards like I did.

Problem: I had problems loading up Blink.
Solution: I was using my USB-BUB so I tried my Arduino USB and it seemed to work better. But I wanted to know what was going on. Well, I tried the USB-BUB again. I found that if I held it to one side or the other, it worked okay. I first tried to clean the male header pins but didn’t see much improvement. Then I took a pair of needle nose pliers and carefully slightly bent the pins. This apparently fixed the problem.

 Conclusion: So why did I build this? Well, I hope to use it in my next Arduino project, a rechargeable battery reconditioner.



    • Paper Contest

      Paper Contest
    • Pie Contest

      Pie Contest
    • Epilog X Contest

      Epilog X Contest

    20 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Hi LOG, great and enticing tutorials. I am pondering a jump into de Arduino pool, but I have a nagging question: The '168 has only 16KB, the '328 has 32KB flash. How one can quantify that figure related to length of a shield (program)?? I dream of setting/monitoring 8 out/in ports continuously,,, how do I "guess" that my program will fit in such speck of memory? Thanks.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    I don't have any good way of estimating program size.
    My guess would be that what you're trying to do isn't going to take very much flash. One thing you can do is get the Arduino software, write your program and compile it. the software will tell you how much memory is needed.

    On the other hand, I don't think you are going to save much money by trying to use a 168 versus a 328. Which ever one you choose remember that you have to get the bootloader already on it or find a way to get the bootload on it.

    While 16K doesn't seem like very much memory, the program is written in a modified C++ code which is very efficient.


    The Arduino Mega is based on the Atmega 1280 or 2560 IC. From the datasheet, these only come in a surface mount or BGA (ball grid array) package. So I don't see how you could duplicate this on prototype board.

    They do sell Arduino Mega PCB boards on ebay for like $5-8. But the two problems are: can you solder surface mount components (I cannot) and can you find an Atmega Mega bootloader IC or be able to program the bootloader code.

    I spent most of a week trying to program some blank Atmega 328 IC with a bootloader and couldn't do it.

    So, I hope that answers your question. I know I couldn't do it.



    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Hmm, I tried progarmming an empty 328 with a bootloader through my nano tonight and kept getting the dreaded sync error 015 or something. My best solution was not to use my 22 vesrion of the IDE but the 1.0. Worked like a charm


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    mind you that the menu options in 2.0 are a bit different. you have to choose the programmer under directly Tools-programmer instead of under 'Burn bootloader


    7 years ago on Introduction

    10.50 is definitely not expensive for an arduino clone, if you can get the parts indeed as cheap as you could (not possible everywhere). Overhere e.g. a 328 will cost me 6 euro's and then it has no bootloader in it.

    Though ofcourse nothing beats the satisfaction of self built (or the agony if it doesnot work), but for $16.90 (14.30 Euro) one can get a completely ready nano clone:
    or for 10.70 euro a arduino mini:

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    The Nano 3.0 looks like a pretty good deal and unlike mine it includes the USB adapter. Also you might not be aware of this but the surface-mount Atmega328 has two extra analog pins. Also it is much smaller than mine.
    I guess the only advantage of mine would be room to add extra circuitry.
    By the way, I found it for US$14.79 on ebay:

    That's with free shipping in the US.
    Thanks for the feedback



    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I bought mine from Tayda electronics.

    I just checked and they went up to $.02 @.
    Actually they do have a minimum order and charge a small S&H fee.


    Robot Lover

    7 years ago on Introduction

    Did you make it based on a schematic or did you free-hand it? I only ask because I need to make your project and was wondering if you had one that I could have. Thanks!

    2 replies
    msuzuki777Robot Lover

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I mostly did it freehand but it is almost exactly like the RBBB schematic:

    The power supply is not included.
    I do not have the Reset button in the Instructable though I added it later in my 'Battery Reconditioner' Instructable.
    I added the 3.2K resistor to change the ARef voltage.

    Hope this helps.



    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I made it. Here's the Instructable.

    So far that's the cheapest version, I could get to work. I've made about four of them.


    msuzuki777Robot Lover

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    They basically do the same thing. There are three main differences.
    The crystal frequency is more accurate.
    The crystal requires two capacitors to ground.
    Resonators are cheaper.

    For most applications with the Arduino, either one should work. Apparently about the only situation where you might have trouble is if you are doing a Real Time Clock in software. That would be like if you wanted to time something for exactly 24 hours.

    I've used both without any problems.