I am about to start a home security system. My target board will be one of the new Megas. I would love to get a hold of a board with no female headers as I would like the lines hardwired in place. Is there such an animal? I can unsolder one I suppose, but with that many pins... yikes.
Why not roll your own board then? It's pretty easy to make a minimal custom "Arduino-compatible' board. Perf-board, CPU a few support components and away you go. You could speed this up with one of the mini/micro/pico derivatives and stuff that into a custom board.
I only use my Arduino boards for prototyping now.
Well, you could make your own board if you wanted, but if you reckon you need a Mega, then good luck soldering that TQFP onto anything. If you really want to hardwire it, you might as well just get a pro version of any of the boards. They won't have the Mega2560 but perhaps you won't need it at all. Sadly, you cannot purchase a Pro for the mega or Uno.
You can do a search on ebay for bare arduino and find plenty of people selling just the Mega board. If you feed comfortable soldering the chip then this would be the way to go.
The MegaMini might be another option http://www.jkdevices.com/arduino-megamini
Or if you PM me I can build up a Mega for you. It would be the older version, but I can install an Atmega2560 on it so it would just not have the newer USB interface.
a 644 based board might be acceptable too
Does the 644 still use the Sanguino bootloader? Or does it have official Arduino support? Yes the 644p is a viable option and you can build a board with it much easier as it comes in a 40-pin DIP package and it's still quite cheap.
I'm sure there are some bare boards with just a 1280 or 2560 soldered on and nothing else, if you want to do it that way.
I have rolled a few of my own and the TQFP while a little scary, does not totally frighten me (although I might need therapy afterwards).
Side stepping for a second, but , I have done some rather small stuff. My son and I will go garage sale-ing to find cheap electronics to take apart. For practice on something I could care less about, I will take a heat gun to it and let the surface mount stuff fall off. Then I will try to solder the stuff back on (no not all of it). While I can not fully test for accidentally jumpered pins, I have managed to solder some fine pitched chips. Nothing like ball solder joints or anything. Some of the more recent inkjet printers have wonderful "practice" boards. Not to mention you can get some really h-bridge chips as well as some nice surface mount stuff. But it did really help for when it came time to actually solder some surface mount stuff that was important. I was not dealing with the newb jitters as I had already found some of the gotchas that will getcha. The Sparkfun SMT soldering tutorials also helped quite a lot.
I was just trying to see if I could get a mega right out of the box without headers already soldered on. I know that there are shields, but I want a more permanent solution. The Sanguino is an option though. Good call.
Jeff K - Dang, I just checked out the Mega Mini. I had not seen that yet. That is so cool!
That may very well be the answer. It is going to e one very crowded board once it is all said and done.
There is also a dip version of the 1280, just misses some pins just like the 644.
Or you could pick up a mega shield and solder to that.