Arduino Mega gives more powah!

Arduino Mega gives more powah!

Posted on 01. Apr, 2009 by in Microcontroller Modules

The Arduino platform has become a big player in the hobbyist electronics community. It is affordable, capable, and the compiler is free and simple to use. The first Arduino came with an ATmega16, then people began changing over to the beefy ATmega168 which offers more memory for more complicated project.

Like any computing resource, though, more is usually better and the embedded microcontroller sector is no different. Thus, the Arduino Mega was designed and released for all to use.

The Mega is based upon an ATmega1280 microcontroller which brings a whopping 54 digital I/O lines, 16 analog inputs, 4 UARTs, and 16MHz of low-power processing oomph. On the tiny single board Arduino Mega is all of the required supporting circuity, a USB interface for programming, and all of the headers and pins for external connections.

You'll notice that this Arduino uses a SMT chip due to the much higher pincount than the previous ATmega 16/168. Thus, even if someone come-out with a DIY kit, you may still be interested in the pre-built models to save you the hassle of the SMT soldering.

Arduino features at a glance:

  • Microcontroller: ATmega1280
  • Operating Voltage: 5V
  • Input Voltage (recommended): 7-12V
  • Input Voltage (limits): 6-20V
  • Digital I/O Pins: 54 (of which 14 provide PWM output)
  • Analog Input Pins: 16
  • DC Current per I/O Pin: 40 mA
  • DC Current for 3.3V Pin: 50 mA
  • Flash Memory: 128 KB of which 4 KB used by bootloader
  • SRAM: 8 KB
  • EEPROM: 4 KB
  • Clock Speed: 16 MHz

Since it's new, the Arduino Mega costs a bit more than the regular models -- about $65 each. I would expect this price to drop as more and more manufacturers begin to design and sell modules and kits based on the new design. The nice thing is that any shields you have for the older Arduinos are likely to work with the Mega and you can, of course, re-use your knowledge and code snippets from other models. The Arduino software runs on Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.

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