The Ardweeny: the Little Friend of the Arduino (and How to Beef It Up)




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Open-source hardware? Arduino(tm) is the first name to come to mind! As great as it is, sometimes we need a small microcontroller solution for a project, or a stripped-down version for cost-effectiveness.

The Ardweeny is the solution. These small kits are 100% compatible with the Arduino programming environment, are very small, (and unlike the regular Arduino) they can fit on a breadboard. Oh, and they're quite inexpensive too!

In the regular configuration, you build the backpack, and have it sit on top of the IC, soldering the leads to the legs of the Atmel microcontroller. Although convenient, it exposes the legs to unwanted bending.

This Instructable by Solarbotics Intern Rudy Bernard shows how you can build your Ardweeny with stiffer extra-long socket-headers that protect the fragile microcontroller legs and the topside programming pins.

Step 1: Parts You'll Need

Electronic Parts
- Ardweeny kit (Solarbotics part # : KARDW)
- 2x 6-Pin Header (HVWTech part #: FPin6L-413)
- 2x 8-Pin Header (HVWTech part #: FPin8L-413)

Tools Required
- Soldering equipment (soldering iron / solder / cleaning sponge) (HVW tech soldering tools)
- A pair of Needle-nose pliers (HVWTech part #: 43060 or 43061)
- A pair of Flush Cutters (HVWTech part #: 43040)
- Safety Glasses - VERY important when clipping and snipping! (Solarbotics part #: 5330)

Step 2: Soldering of the Capacitors

Start with the 0.01uF capacitors. They aren't polarized so you can position them in the way you want as long as you put one each into rectangle C1 and C2.

Snug them down, solder them in, and trim off the excess leads poking out from the bottom of the PCB.

Step 3: Soldering of the Resistors

You have 2 resistors with different values, so you will have to take care with them.

Let's start with the resistor R1 - 10k (brown / black / orange / gold). Bend it over with a pair of needle-nose pliers like the picture below and put it in the R1 rectangle. Solder it in place, and snip off the excess lead underneath

Do the same thing with the R2 - 470 ohm (yellow / purple / brown / gold).

Step 4: Soldering of the Resonator and LED

Put the 3-lead resonator in the "Xtl" rectangle. It is not polarity sensitive, so which-way-around does not matter. Solder and snip, like with the resistors & capacitors.

However the LED have a polarity so you will have to take care which way it is installed.Take a close look at it and find the flat side of the LED. The flat side is the cathode, which also has the shorter leg of the two (the other, longer lead is the anode). The flat-side goes to the square pad on pcb. You can also see a flat side on the silk screen.

Step 5: Soldering of the Push Button and the Programming Header

The push button is the reset switch of the Arweeny. This one is very simple to soldering. Stick it in and solder it down!

The header is use to program the Ardweeny. You can help yourself by using masking tape to hold it in place. Try to solder one leg first and look on the top if the header is sitting straight up and down, and in all the 6 holes. If not, you only have to heat one header and move the header at the right place.

Step 6: Cleaning of the Pcb Bottom

Let's check that the bottom of the PCB is nice and clean. To give the maximum possible space for the integrated chip (IC) you must cut all the legs of every components, nice and short.

Nothing should be poking out any more than 1mm (3/32"), as we want to snug the backpack PCB as close to the IC as we can!

Step 7: Customization 1: Soldering the Socket Headers

Let's make our Ardweeny stronger than stock! Instead of using the two sets of 6-pin and 8-pin strips, we are going to use the longer, stronger 6 & 8-pin socket headers!

An easy way to solder the socket headers is to put them all first, flip it over, and solder them. Again (like with the programming header), start by soldering only one pin per header to make sure they are all sitting nice and flat to the PCB, and in a straight line.

When you are sure they look nice and neat, solder the rest of the pins to the PCB.

Step 8: Prepare the Chip to Receive the Backpack

We normally wedge the regular PCB backpack onto the chip and start soldering, but as we're using the beefy socket-pin strips, we have some additional preparation to do.

Using your pliers, bend each pair of legs in flat against the IC. This will make it fit the spacing between the new legs much easier.

Step 9: Cutting the Legs Off the Atmel

Now we get nasty! Let's use the flush-cutters to snip off the narrow, weak, wimpy legs off the Atmel microcontroller.

This step lets us keep the side-to-side spacing of the Ardweeny at 300mil which will may it fully compatible with a breadboard or any 300mil DIP socket.

Step 10: Soldering of the Atmel to the PackPack PCB

Here the most critical part of this project. The soldering of the Ardweeny.

You must first put the chip on the right side. Don't solder it in backwards! It's a real chore trying to fix a chip soldered in the wrong-way around!

Look closely at the Atmel chip - it has a little notch or recess on one of the narrow ends. The Ardweeny pcb has a similar line drawn on the end of the PCB (the opposite side to the push button). Check out the picture below to confirm you have it right!

Once you are positive you have things lined up correctly, squeeze the Atmel chip between the leads under the Backpack PCB, so the top of the IC mates with the the bottom of the PCB.

If you are having some trouble lining things up, use a breadboard to hold the PCB upside-down and steady with the programming pins.

Again, use the "single-pin" soldering technique: After soldering the first leg of the chip, make sure the chip is correctly in place on both sides. All looks good? Excellent - finish soldering, using as little solder as you can. Too much solder can blob down the pins, and make it hard to use with a breadboard!

Step 11: Enjoy Your New Ardweeny :D

Now that have finished your super Ardweeny you are now able to do all your project. You can use an FTDI adapter (USB to Serial adapter) for programming your new Ardweeny!

Here are also a few other variations of how to use your Ardweeny.



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    15 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Great idea on the extra-long socket-headers, but can't you use those headers to mount the IC on the top of the board and then find a way to connect the 6 header pins so that you can access them for programming?

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    two more things I forgot the switch and the LED. For the LED you can keep it like that or not add it at all (if it's possible) and for the switch you can buy a new one and put it on horizontally.


    9 years ago on Step 11

    I heard if you already have an Arduino board with usb (like deulcimileneuvo (bad spelling)), one can pull the u-controller out and then make jumpers from the serial lines to ardweeny.
    Might save people money if they only need usb for programming and have a board already.

    1 reply

    you bet! this is a instructible i did a while back


    9 years ago on Step 9

    I just got two ardweenys. I soldered the first one up, the SHX solder makes it SO easy to get almost perfect joints :). I have a few questions about it. Firstly, can your program it with a PICAXE USB download cable? And, what voltage can it handle, as it doesn't have a built-in reg like arduinos?
    Thanks so much, I am looking forward to firing it up!

    2 replies

    For your first question, no you cannot program it with pic axe usb cable u should use a usb to serial cable and also I recommend only using 5V. Lastly, about the SHX solder, yes you should wash it, it is safe to do so and it will prevent short circuiting if you do.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    We've been doing documentation for our kits for a long time (~17 years), so adding them to Instructables has been fun. I do wish there were some better editting tools like in CorelDraw... :-)

    el greeno

    9 years ago on Introduction

    Nice instructable.
    Very well set out.

    I could google it, and not understand the results, but I thought it'd be a better idea to ask people on here who know what they are talking about and generally don't shoot people down.

    What is an arduino (and indeed, an ardweeny), and what is it used for?

    1 reply
    Richiepooel greeno

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

     An arduino/ardweeny is a microcontroller. Think of it as a little computer, that takes the space of a single chip. You use software on a desktop computer to write code for an arduino/ardweeny which will make it do things. 

    The code tells the arduino/ardweeny what to do. You can tell it for example, to make pin 6 high for 2 seconds every 4 seconds. Then, if you hook up an LED to this pin, it would turn on for 2 seconds every 4 seconds. Then the cycle would repeat, creating a blinking LED. 

    Basically, there are input pins and output pins. Inputs use external things (such as buttons or light dependent resistors, or other sensors) to tell the microcontroller what to do. Example, when pin 9 is high, make pin 6 high as well. This could for example, be used to turn on an LED. That example was very simple, however. You could tell the microcontroller to do a whole bunch of things when pin 9 was high. 

    Output pins are how to microcontroller is able to control things like LED's. The microcontroller makes output pins high or low depending on how the code has been written.

    (This is a very simple explanation with simple examples. Microcontroller experts hook them up in crazy ways with lots of inputs and outputs to create things that move, light up, etc.) 


    9 years ago on Introduction

     Very nice indeed, i know a guy thay had made these for years, but without a PCB!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Very clear, very well written.  Good warnings along the way.  I guess you folks have written how-to's before, eh?  ;-)