using microcontroller outside of arduino

One of the pieces of the puzzle that I've been missing is the know-how to use a microcontroller outside of the arduino board. You can easily get the atmega 328's on ebay and elsewhere, with or without bootloaders. My questions are: what is the bootloader? can you put it on yourself? is all you need to make an "arduino" a microcontroller, a 16Mhz resonator, and some other spare parts? Basically, I'd like to be able to completely finish some of my projects so that they work on their own without the arduino. I see that others have made their own "arduinos". I don't need usb-capabilities once it's programmed.

Search Arduino.cc for "bootloader" and "standalone."

Here’s how I made mine
(you’ll probably have to put the capacitors in the correct way, though).

hmm, that's pretty interesting. I may try that on a premade project board after breadboarding it. I've got some male headers, maybe I'll get some female headers to make it more finished. :slight_smile: