What to get when buying Arduino MEGA 2560

Hi all,

I am going to buy my first microcontroller board, I plan to buy the arduino mega 2560.

I want to ask about some technical issues of what should I get to set everything up.

  1. I read that the board can be powered with the USB cable. Is that the same cable to program with the arduino software?

  2. How do we connect the arduino with the hyperterminal on my PC?

The first time I learn to use microcontroller, I use the cerebot board and it used the RS232 cable. But I am really new to Arduino and I want everything works well.

  1. Do I need a power supply from AC - DC to power the board?

  2. What Else do I need to start with the Arduino Mega 2560?

I really need your suggestions as I am really a newbie…

Thanks anyway for any input and suggestions.


It kind of depends what you intend to do with it. If you're content with running blink or very simple stuff that just runs on the board, all you need is the arduino,a USB lead and the downloaded software. Its programmed, powered and communicates with its host down the same connection. It appears as an old fashioned serial connection (a 'COM' port on windows ) and any software that can communicate via a serial port can be used including hyperterminal.

Altough if you're working at the simple end of things and not connecting it to lots of stuff, you'd be better with the cheaper Uno which does pretty much the same except it has fewer connections to the outside world. It also has a replaceable processor which can be handy if/when you fry it...

I intend to start from the beginning, from LED up to more complex stuffs.

As I read the forum, I think the USB cable is used to program with arduino software, what if I want to program the chip with AVR studio (as it supports the GCC compiler thingy)?

Or can I do it with the same thing?

So if it's that simple as you said, I just need the usb cable to provide communication with the software on my PC. Is that correct?

I do not think to have the uno one as you said, it only has a few connections.

I have not used AVR Studio, but I can tell you that the Arduino programming model is essentially C. Anything you can find in AVR-GCC and AVR-LIBC will work in arduino land. In fact these are often the best references when you want to program just a little below the Arduio library level.

The arduino IDE uses avr-gcc, to program the arduino using code compiled in avr-studio I recommend that you read this: http://smileymicros.com/blog/2010/10/03/42/

But if you know how to use plain C to program your avr and you dont want to use the bloated and heavy libs from arduino just read the part about how to upload the code and how to create a new project as you wont need anything from the Wiring libs.

What about the serial communications connector? What should I get for that thing?

(serial comm that I mean is the one to communicate with the hyperterminal, the last time I use it, I convert small letter from keyboard, into capital letter. And I convert numbers into words, and doing this, I used RS232 to usb cable)

Any idea anybody?

Arduinos are very good for learning the basics but I would advise you to buy the cheaper Arduino UNO + a few preprogrammed Chips (or the cheaper not programmed versions if you have an external programmer allready) and a few extras (see link at the end of this text). The reason is: if you buy a Mega you got yourself some serious Microcontroller for a lot of money, you will learn a lot of stuff with it BUT you won't be able to build it permanently in a project if you only have this one single Arduino. When you buy the extra chips for the UNO you can still do everything but you can also use the cheap Chips in a project. It's just better to spend 5 bucks for a microcontroller in a project than 25 or even 50 for a new arduino. You won't buy yourself a high end gaming PC if you just play tetris if you know what i mean ^^

Oh btw the older Arduino Duemilanove is cheap at the moment because the UNO came out, maybe you can save a little money there.

but back to thread: I actually brought a Arduino Mega the first time and i kind of regret it now because I never used it for something i couldn't have done with the smaller versions so i kind of wasted money. I had to buy lots of extra stuff actually i got myself an external programmer and 10 ATmega 168...was a good idea for me and i save some money after my third project or so. i still use the Arduino IDE to program the chips and the Arduino Mega for testing but i never really used the full potential in any way. Well i'm thinking about a homeautomationproject where i want to use this baby^^

jmsaavedra made a great instructable about using the extra chips for the UNO/Duemilanove here's the link: http://www.instructables.com/id/Perfboard-Hackduino-Arduino-compatible-circuit/

EDIT: i forgot: serial communication works over the usb cable.

as a powersource: everything between 7 and 12V DC is fine. you can power this thing with lemmons if you want well batteries take less space but its possible ^^

what you need for starting with the arduino: just read a few tutorials (even if you don't have an arduino jet) after reading that you know what you should buy. http://www.ladyada.net/learn/arduino/


the duemilanove seems cheap, and some sellers have it in packages with the LEDs and stuffs. But the ATmega328 only has like 22 outputs that I can play with.

One of the reason that I consider to have the MEGA was my uni project. I had to create a musical keyboard with 8 push button (this creates 8 different notes), and then I have to do a lot of stuff with it, and it uses many outputs pins.

And ATmega2560 has 4 separate interrupt thingy compared with the 328.

But I'm still thinking about the full potential that I can get with the MEGA (yea, it cost a lot more addition for the breakout boards).

I have read through the tutorial parts, and it uses the duemilanove. But it doesn't matter right if I use the mega for those tutorials?

Do you think the duemilanove suitable for the project?

aaaaa.. I'm confused, so many options to choose for... :P

I have read through the tutorial parts, and it uses the duemilanove. But it doesn't matter right if I use the mega for those tutorials?

No, everything that works with the Duemilanove works with the Mega too. However, you will have to adapt small details like using Serial1 instead of Serial or changing pin numbers.

Do you think the duemilanove suitable for the project?

It might be, it all depends on what you need to do. If you need many ports, at some point it's easier and cheaper to use some kind of port extender (I2C, serial LCD devices, 74HC595, etc) or clever circuits to read multiple keys per port instead of getting processors with more ports. But without more details about what you want to do, it's impossible to tell.



Thx bro for the advice.

That's what I mean, I have to put the notes that i play on the SSD and LCD, interract with hyperterminal to change the volume / amplitude, changing square to sine / triangular wave, playing / recording sample music etc and all of them needs quite a lot of ports..

But still I have a problem of choosing the port extender.. I'm still looking for the right 16x2 LCD , DAC, and audio amplifier for the arduino..

Hi all,

What kind of power supply cable can I use for the MEGA2560?

I have a 12 V 1000mA one, is it possible to use it for the MEGA2560?

Is 1000mA safe enough for the MEGA2560?


12V is okay. It will not draw anywhere near 1,000 ma, so that part is no problem. If your 12V supply is unregulated it likely generates a good deal more that 12V at open circuit. If you find it has an open circuit voltage of more than 20V, I wouldn't recommend using it with the Mega as this is out of spec.

As for cabling, you have two options: use a barrel power connector, or feed bare wires into the Vin and Gnd connections. Easy peasy.