The CheepaDuino, Minimalist Arduino Platform on the Cheap!




If you're like me you have a special love for your Arduino.
I have 3- 2009's and have made literally dozens of cool projects with them.

Sadly, not a single one is in a final project! No Arduino projects because I don't want my precious locked up, never to used again.


I love my Arduinoes, they are cool and they cost too much to just leave in a blinky or motor spinning project. Even that hot water heater monitor and pump controller project.

I usually get an idea, load and debug a sketch, make it perfect, run it for a day or two then shelf the project because I don't want to donate one of my beloved Arduinos to a prtoject. "I might need it for another project that is more important next month.
Is this you?

If it is I have have relief for you. 

The CheepaDuino!!, is here to the rescue.

I have a complete Arduino platform including shipping for a bout 5 bucks each. 2 for $9.62. That includes shipping!

If this is you then let's do it, follow me.
FYI, first picture, 3 built up cheepaduinoes awaiting projects.
second picture a 3 zone climate monitor instructable to follow
third picture a Power ball lottery number picker, instructable to follow
fourth picture, a bootloader burner i use from Evil Mad scientist. each Atmega328pu takes 15 seconds to load bootloader.

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Step 1: The Great Gathering, Parts Is Parts.

To make each CheepaDuino we of course will need some minimum parts.

I know you expected that but follow me here.

We need a controller and the support components to make this work.

Basically, a way to hold the parts, a micro controller CPU, a power regulator, a system clock, a blinky, a reset button and a way to connect our pins to the outside world. ie. our project.

I found a supplier that is inexpensive, good quality and fast.

ere is the list to make one CheepaDuino:
All quantity one except where noted.

CERAMIC RESONATOR 16.0MHZ 3-PINS  part number A-717   $0.23

or; A-230 16.000 MHz 16 MHz Crystal HC-49/S Low Profile $.10
and  2 ea A-523 22pF 50V Ceramic Disc Capacitor $.01 each, 10 minimum.

L78L05ACZ L78L05 78L05 +5 VOLTS 100mA Voltage Regulator IC  part number A-176   $0.09

Diode 1N4007 SKU A-155 $ 0.02

Tact Switch 6x6mm 9mm Through Hole SPST-NO Part number A- 5143 $0.48

40 Pin 2.54 mm Single Row Female Pin Header Part number A-196   $0.24

LED 3mm Red Water Clear Ultra Bright (2 pcs) part number A-705   $0.04

100uF 16V 105C Radial Electrolytic Capacitor 5x11mm part number A-4514   $0.02   $0.02

28 pin DIP IC Socket Adaptor Solder Type  part number A-1601   $0.11

DC Power Jack PC mount 2.1mm SKU A-4118  $0.16

DC Power Plug 2.1mm solder type SKU A-4573 $0.16

** Small StripBoard 94x53mm (Copper) part number A5031    $0.66 or,

go here for a buck fifty and get the best project board EVER.
I buy 6 at a time take a month to get but worth waiting 3 months. I may buy some and sell them here. leave a note and I'll see.


You will have to get more than one of some of the items to make the 5 dollar minimum. your choice.

If you order more sets it gets down under 5 bucks per DuvDuino

I priced the cost plus shipping for all parts except the Atmega328pu with bootloader at $6.80 for 5 CheepaDuinoes!

Remember you are forced to buy 10 each of the resistor, that enough for 10 boards and the proto board is huge 4 inches by 2 inches. but can easily be cut to make 2 or 3 blank boards.

Unfortunately they only sell a non bootloader CPU IC's. 

Go here or Ebay for it: 

$3.95 each.

Ebay example IC:
$3.33 free shipping 3 week wait.

All done and said in quantity you should be well under 6 bucks for each CheepaDuino. That's better than $24.95

Step 2: Assemble the CheepaDuino

just put the parts in the proto board where they go. use the schematic as a guide.
The CheepaDuino will be your best friend and you can just burn projects one after another and still have your precious.

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    17 Discussions


    6 years ago on Introduction

    A request of Instructables members: purchase one authentic Arduino hardware model some of the proceeds supports the Arduino community web site servers, moderators, etc. It is also nice to have a "real" device for testing and software/interface validation.

    The above being said, I too use faux Arduinos for permanent projects. I personally prefer the Mini-Pro form factor which can be purchased completely assembled and tested and shipped for under $6 ... However, buy 10 and get free priority shipping w/ a shipping number.


    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    i use only real arduinoes. i have 4. i like your link and will be looking at that for an alternative to my duino


    6 years ago on Introduction

    I see. So you just plunk the atmega into the dip socket on the arduino board, program it, take it out, and use it like that? Is that what you do?

    1 reply

    6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks again, one last question. In order to upload sketches to this diy board via usb (without another arduino), you mentioned earlier that this does not have a UART, so do I need any other parts to make this board accept sketches via usb?is it absolutely necessary to use a UART? Thanks a ton.

    2 replies

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    In order for the IC to be programmed it needs to have a USB port hooked to a UART hooked to the IC. This board can not do that. It is not an Arduino. It is a board to put your Programmed IC on to run sketches that don't need to communicate to the computer. Most don't.
    I suppose a 6 pin connector could be wired in to add a ISP connector and then using an ISP programmer you could load programs direct. I don't know about that stuff.
    i take my Arduino, make the program (sketch) run and then move the IC to my board to run. I then take a blank 328 IC with a bootloader in and put it on my Arduino for the next project. that way i do not have to leave my whole Arduino in each project I make. If my project needs to use the computer for ?Serial communication then I think a UART RS232 IC is necessary. If I was going to build Full blown Arduinoes I would have made this.
    I hope that's somewhat clear.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    This is an arduino platform. not a real Arduino. The deal is, very rarely does a sketch need to use USB once you have it running on your Arduino. Once your sketch is perfect, you would take the Atmega IC out of your Arduino and put it here, Then you could put a blank, with bootloader IC back in your Arduino for your next project.
    I would guess you could program it directly via the 6 pin ISP port on the board but I have never tried that. It's too easy to just get it running in the Arduino and move the programmed chip to this board for your project.


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    oops. the fact is 10,100 not really a big deal. since they "absorb" power supply ripple the need is dictated by demand. So if your Cheepaduino does a lot of hard work, current wise such as direct driving LED not LCD loads or and other devices that consume over, say 10-20 ma and you are driving several then 100ufd is the way to go. On the other hand if your load is limited to driving a 16x2 lcd with it's one backlit LED then 10ufd or anything in between 10-100ufd will be fine. Watch polarity on those devices. Usually with caps and power sources bigger is better but is often overkill. Your choice.
    thanks for pointing out my oversights.


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Hi, so I am assuming that you can use any female jack for the usb port, right? I was thinking of using type2, which is what is used on the mega and uno. Thanks.

    1 reply

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    this link is the type that is for this board. remember there is no UART like on an arduino board.

    Thanks for this, Great idea !! Just a question,in the parts list you have a 1K & 10K resistors but the BOM & schematic show 1.5K & 1M ,which is correct ?

    5 replies
    lkndaveLectric Wizard

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Actually no resistors are needed unless you intend on using the usb port. i think i just put a part list up there from a project i bought for when i ordered the basic parts. I also forgot to put the DC barrel connector part number there. i bought males and females and use 2 18650 batteries in a holder with a female connector to power some of my projects. i will edit accordingly.

    lkndaveLectric Wizard

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    the complete full answer is, populate according to the schematic.
    R1-2= 68 OHM
    R3=1 MEG
    R4=1.5K OHM
    D1-2= 3.6 VOLT ZENER
    ALSO CONNECTOR X1 WHICH IS USP CONNECTOR. ALL AVAILABLE FROM THE SOURCE I CITED FOR THE OTHER PARTS. Since I program my 328's in the Arduino and move the chip to the cheepaduino I don't use USB. There is no UART to support serial I/O.
    hope that helps