Dilemma of simplicity and versatile - Next board - UsbaspBootloader Digispark

|500x271 (Left Digispark, Right little guy with UsbaspBootloader)

I am lost as to how to design a future proof board for myself, and what I meant for future proof is that given the limited knowledge of present me, how am I supposed to design a board that a slight more knowledgeable future me can incorporate in my future projects with minimal efforts and mess. Being more practical is more important to me, yet most of time, I make arts, very impractical boards that I don't want to or can't use for my current project in my mind.

|500x500 (Sketch for a 30x30cm board with UsbaspBootloader)

I like simple and small boards, and I am a small fans of that digispark board, not a big fans because uploading codes to it is painfully hard, and it doesn't even have buttons, not even a reset button. Are buttons very a big deal? Looking back to all the boards that I have designed, most of them have at least 3 buttons.

|500x282 (Left Uno, Right top Timer with UsbaspBootloader, middle little guy with UsbaspBootloader, right bottom Attiny)

Whats the question?

its hard to give you advice on a future board, unless we know more about your needs/hobbies..

example:

If you do a lot with (high powered) leds.. maybe build in some transistors/mosfets into your board (maybe a constant current driver as well)

maybe you like to log data.. or read parameters from a microSD card to 'guide' your projects.. so build in a microSD card socket...

I also suggest MANY GND points.. as well as both RAW voltage and regulated voltage 'spots' on the board.

xl97: Whats the question?

its hard to give you advice on a future board, unless we know more about your needs/hobbies..

example:

If you do a lot with (high powered) leds.. maybe build in some transistors/mosfets into your board (maybe a constant current driver as well)

maybe you like to log data.. or read parameters from a microSD card to 'guide' your projects.. so build in a microSD card socket...

I also suggest MANY GND points.. as well as both RAW voltage and regulated voltage 'spots' on the board.

It's not a future board, but a future-proof board. I think I got a great idea after thinking about it for days. One board will never be enough. It will be a stack of boards.

I don't think that you can "future proof" computer stuff. The technology changes too quickly. And generally it is cheap enough to be disposable.

You may need to "retro proof" something - by which I mean needing to make sure that a thing you build now can still be used and perhaps re-programmed in the future. (How many years in the future?)

I think that requires keeping the programming device and the programming software (the specific version of the IDE and of ALL the libraries that were used to create the program). The Arduino folks don't seem to understand the concept of backwards compatibility so newer versions may not work.

...R

Robin2: I don't think that you can "future proof" computer stuff. The technology changes too quickly. And generally it is cheap enough to be disposable.

You may need to "retro proof" something - by which I mean needing to make sure that a thing you build now can still be used and perhaps re-programmed in the future. (How many years in the future?)

I think that requires keeping the programming device and the programming software (the specific version of the IDE and of ALL the libraries that were used to create the program). The Arduino folks don't seem to understand the concept of backwards compatibility so newer versions may not work.

...R

What I have in mind is not really software or computer stuff, but mostly hardware. Something like a classic mulitvibrator circuit, it will never get out of style. For instance, an Atmega8 has been abandoned by the arduino team long times ago already, but is it meant that it's not a good chips or outdated? I don't think so. It's my favorite AVR MCU.

I have abandoned my other design and goes with this one. Here is a sketch. I have done a prototype already. it works fine. Atmega16/32 with usbaspbootloader. |500x387

Simplicity and versatility are very good attributes for a general purpose prototyping board. I see so many of the evaluation boards that have some random accessories thrown on there. For the purpose of evaluating a microcontroller this makes sense but for the purposes of a prototyping board those accessories are just going to be an inconvenience for any project that doesn’t happen to need that specific configuration. That’s something I think that Arduino got right with their boards. I want my prototyping boards to just provide the minimal necessary support circuitry for the MCU that I would be duplicating in every single circuit if I were prototyping with bare chips. I want this in a compact, breadboard friendly form. I can add any accessories that the project requires separately. If those accessories have standardized support circuitry then I want that included on their module. If these boards are designed right(e.g. Pro Mini, Pro Micro, WeMos D1 Mini, small W5500 modules), they may be worth incorporating in the final project, otherwise you can just duplicate those circuits on a custom board.

pert: Simplicity and versatility are very good attributes for a general purpose prototyping board. I see so many of the evaluation boards that have some random accessories thrown on there. For the purpose of evaluating a microcontroller this makes sense but for the purposes of a prototyping board those accessories are just going to be an inconvenience for any project that doesn't happen to need that specific configuration. That's something I think that Arduino got right with their boards. I want my prototyping boards to just provide the minimal necessary support circuitry for the MCU that I would be duplicating in every single circuit if I were prototyping with bare chips. I want this in a compact, breadboard friendly form. I can add any accessories that the project requires separately. If those accessories have standardized support circuitry then I want that included on their module. If these boards are designed right(e.g. Pro Mini, Pro Micro, WeMos D1 Mini, small W5500 modules), they may be worth incorporating in the final project, otherwise you can just duplicate those circuits on a custom board.

Exactly. It will also reduce the cost. I will not even use a voltage regulator here, more battery friendly.

flyandance: What I have in mind is not really software or computer stuff, but mostly hardware. Something like a classic mulitvibrator circuit, it will never get out of style. For instance, an Atmega8 has been abandoned by the arduino team long times ago already, but is it meant that it's not a good chips or outdated? I don't think so. It's my favorite AVR MCU.

I still don't get it.

What matter if it goes out of style or is overtaken by a more capable MCU?

Alternatively if Atmel keeps making Atmega 8s what is to stop you continuing to use them?

Perhaps you are having the sort of philosophical crisis that I sometimes have over PC programming languages - should I go back to using Ruby, should I stay with Python, should I do some projects with one and some with the other. Then I say to myself stop being silly - it is all irrelevant.

The only real problem would be if you wanted to modify a 5-year old project and could not.

...R

flyandance: Exactly. It will also reduce the cost. I will not even use a voltage regulator here, more battery friendly.

All those buttons and displays, make into modules with bus interfaces. Serial, I2C, SPI, 1-Wire won't go obsolete any time soon. Those products could be made Pi-friendly too.

Robin2: I still don't get it.

What matter if it goes out of style or is overtaken by a more capable MCU?

Alternatively if Atmel keeps making Atmega 8s what is to stop you continuing to use them?

Perhaps you are having the sort of philosophical crisis that I sometimes have over PC programming languages - should I go back to using Ruby, should I stay with Python, should I do some projects with one and some with the other. Then I say to myself stop being silly - it is all irrelevant.

The only real problem would be if you wanted to modify a 5-year old project and could not.

...R

If it's not broken, then don't fix it. Why need a more capable MCU to do things that a less capable atmega8 is doing the job fine? If ruby works for you, then use her. If python works for you, then use him. After all, they are nothing but 1s and 0s. If a bike works, ie, get you to where ever you want to be on time, then you don't really need a car, unless you want to pick up some hot girls.

I look at prices (at Futurlec): 328P-PU costs me $2.20, 8A-PU is $2.25.

Both are 28 pins, likely pin compatible. Question I have is why not switch?

328P has enough to run SD and things that use SD at the same time. The 512 byte buffer only takes a quarter of the total RAM.

If the UNO ran a 1284P, then I could understand about not upgrading. That's a $7 40-pin chip.

flyandance: If it's not broken, then don't fix it. Why need a more capable MCU to do things that a less capable atmega8 is doing the job fine? If ruby works for you, then use her. If python works for you, then use him.

You seem to have got the roles reversed. :) I was trying to give you some advice based on my experience.

I still don't understand what is the reason for you starting this Thread (and I am not suggesting for a moment that you should not have started it).

If your argument is that Atmel should have given up development when they got the Atmega8 working then I have some sympathy for that concept. But that sort of restraint will never happen because it would mean the chip designers would be out of a job. Just the same as civil engineers will never admit there are enough bridges or motorways.

...R

328P expanded the niche for 28 pin DIP AVR's at no extra cost. See if the 8 is not pin compatible.

Robin2: You seem to have got the roles reversed. :) I was trying to give you some advice based on my experience.

I still don't understand what is the reason for you starting this Thread (and I am not suggesting for a moment that you should not have started it).

If your argument is that Atmel should have given up development when they got the Atmega8 working then I have some sympathy for that concept. But that sort of restraint will never happen because it would mean the chip designers would be out of a job. Just the same as civil engineers will never admit there are enough bridges or motorways.

...R

New development is always great, and that is my reason of this thread, developing my next slightly better/ less suck prototyping board (left top). is the atmega8 a perfect ic? of course not, but instead of chasing rabbits, why not just get a hamster? A pro with a few cents atmega8 probably can do more than a grandma with a few hundred bucks ipad.

|500x283

What are you saving by using an Atmega8 rather than a 328 ?

And what features are you giving up to achieve that saving?

...R

Robin2:
What are you saving by using an Atmega8 rather than a 328 ?

And what features are you giving up to achieve that saving?

…R

Other than a lot of money, a peace of mind knowing that I have achieved something for less while being not wasteful, as 8Kb meaningful memory is hard to fill, not to mention 32Kb.

(New board done? Top shield, middle circuit, bottom main board.)
Eagle files included in attachment.

Juno-Fantasy.zip (27.7 KB)

flyandance: Something

Just ducktape a breadboard to it and it's instantly futureproof. :D

(In all seriousness though - adding a perfboard space to a prototyping board seems like a good idea)

Flexible core + modules for prototyping works well. I don't see the point of making permanent things at an impermanent stage.

If future proofing is at all a goal, it directly contradicts the "I make do with 8kb and all of you bastards are wasteful". More space is more future proof. How big is the house you live in? Would you turn down a larger house?

flyandance: Other than a lot of money

You can't be saving a lot of money unless you plan to make thousands of these things - and who would bother to buy them when they can buy a completely pointless 48MHz XYZ instead?

...R

flyandance: a few cents atmega8

Really? Where? That's a hot deal! How few? Not 200 few!

Use them sure but why should a standard hobby dev board be limited to what the 8 is?

Have you tried an atmega8 in an UNO? The 168 works fine.