3D Robotics

New Arduinos announced!

I'm here in New York with the Arduino team (for the Open Hardware Summit and Maker Faire NYC), and the team has just announced the long awaited 1.0 version ("Punto Uno") of the Arduino platform. This is actually just the start of a series of hardware and software evolutions that will take Arduino into even more markets, both broader and higher-end. The Arduino phenomena, as big as it already is, is only going to accelerate from here.

The two main hardware differences in the new board are that the venerable FTDI chip that's used as a USB interface has been replaced with and Atmel ATmega8U2 and the Mega's Atmega 1280 has been replaced by a Atmega 2560, with more memory. Here's how the team describes this:

--"We replaced the aging FTDI chipset with a custom made usb-serial converter built with an Atmel ATmega8U2 this provides lower latency and doesn’t require to install any drivers on mac and linux (on windows all you need is a simple .inf file) more advanced users will be able to reprogram the USB chip to make the board show up as a variety of USB devices (Keyboards, Mice, Joysticks, MIDI etc)"

--"An upgrade for the Arduino Mega which will sport the new Atmel USB chip plus an ATMega2560 processor with twice as much flash memory. We’ve been able to obtain some significant savings due improvements in the production process and better pricing from suppliers that we are happy to pass on to customers. This board will have the same graphic design as the UNO.

At the moment, due to limitations in the GCC compiler only 128k of flash are immediately useable but we’re very close to unlocking the whole memory space."

We in the ArduPilot/Copter project, along with Sparkfun, have been working with the Arduino team closely on these changes, and will be making similar changes to the APM board and IMU shield. It's all backwards compatible, so there should be no code issues or differences in performance with the existing boards, but the new boards with the ATMega8U2 should be a bit cheaper to manufacture, and won't require the FTDI driver, which should make things easier for newcomers.

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  • so you guys will be using ATMega2560 in the near future on Ardupilot mega and Oilpan?
  • Would love to see an arduino with native USB and USB host ability without the need for a shield.
  • Moderator
    @Chris Yes We hope ... ;)
  • Developer
    @Chris: My main concern about Arduino is that they are not keeping up with the community. Arduino is a great (if not the best) introduction to programming micro controllers. Hence the huge following. But as all those people expand their knowledge they will start to want more power for advanced projects, forcing them to leave the Arduino platform. As I see it Arduino needs an advanced path. Something AVR32/ARM based with cool toys for the big boys.
  • Developer
    More pictures of the board here:
  • 3D Robotics
    Roberto: You and I both know that there is hope for the future ;-)
  • 3D Robotics
    bGatti: the replaced the FTDI with a second Atmel. The Atmega8U2 has 8k of memory and is user accessible. It ships with both USB interface code and its own bootloader so you can access it via USB. However, if you're willing to access the chip over ICSP, you can use the 4k for your own purposes. We may use that single chip to replace both the FTDI and the Atmega328 on ArduPilot Mega--the chip will be the USB interface on the ground and the PPM encoder in the air, allowing us to potentially create a cheaper, smaller, lighter set of boards..
  • Moderator
    I hope that arduino Team propose more better micro in the next future :(
  • Developer
    I am kinda sitting on the fence with this one. In one way I think it is cool that they added a second low-end MCU for USB interfacing, while on the other hand I was expecting they would use one of the newer mid/high range 8bit chips with built in USB, more timers etc. Going for the second chip makes for some interesting possibilities, but it also has the potential for complicating USB communication with the main chip. Mainly since there will be no access to the USB driven interrupts in the main chip. I have also yet to find any reference to how they will communicate between the USB and main chip. Surely they are not planning on using uart to keep it backwards compatible on a hardware level? In that case I would hardly call this an upgrade at all. But most likely they will use SPI for higher throughput. Even so there will be some overhead compared to a built in USB interface, but at least it will be much better then the old FTDI/UART solution.
  • This is really exciting new, actually - I look forward to using the new Arduino boards to teach students how to make things that are not stuck being virtual com-port devices finally!

    What's awesome about the Arduino is it's ease-of-use, and community.
    Otherwise, devboards are a dime-a-dozen these days... and there are even some that compete favorably on the ease-of-use side of things, such as the CUI32 board I've developed ( http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=9645 ) - no need to install an IDE, since there's a BASIC compiler on-board via the StickOS operating system ( http://www.cpustick.com/ ) ... but if you want to utilize the full power of the PIC32 processor (which is quite a bit faster than an ATmega2560), you'd want to use C instead of BASIC (also supported via a bootloader).

    Any rate, this is great news! I've been frustrated with the FTDI chip on older Arduinos for a long time now! (I even made some instructions on how to build a "CUIduino" board using my older CUI-board, which was the equivalent of this new combination of an ATmega8U2 for USB + a standard Arduino-bootloaded ATmega here: http://www.create.ucsb.edu/~dano/CUI/#AppA )
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