All you need to know about Arduino circuit boards

12th Apr 2023

Types Of Arduino Circuit Boards: A Complete Guide

What are Arduino Circuit Boards or an Arduino Uno Circuit? An Arduino represents open-hardware development boards which may be tapped by almost any enthusiast for designing and developing a variety of devices that can interact with the actual environment. It may also indicate a company manufacturing a particular version of such boards. An Arduino PCB Board or an Arduino Uno Board will have diverse interfaces and components together for one circuit board. Several pins link diverse components together. At the same time, these include both analog and digital pins. There will also be serial and power connectors along with a microcontroller, oscillator, voltage regulator, and more such elements.

Are you working with sensor integration or do you have plans to develop a new device? Are you looking at venturing deeper into embedded systems and electronics? You will find several Arduino development boards to take care of all your needs. You need to know that these microchip technology-powered boards and other varieties may not be a one-size-fits-all solution. You should make sure that you select the right board, based on what you specifically need and desire, as per your project. Here’s taking a closer look at several kinds of boards that are available in this regard.

What makes up an Arduino?

Arduinos usually have several interfaces and components together on one circuit board. The design has evolved over several years. A basic board has the following items:

  1. Multiple pins for connecting with several components to be used with the Arduino. These are either digital or analogue pins.
  2. Power connectors for ensuring device power and low voltage, which may drive connected aspects like sensors and LEDs.
  3. The microcontroller is the key chip enabling programming the Arduino to implement various commands and take decisions based on varying inputs. They are mostly Atmel controllers.
  4. Serial connectors are usually executed via regular USB ports. These connectors enable better communication with the board from computers and smooth loading of newer programs onto devices.
  5. Other components like voltage regulators and oscillators.

How do I program an Arduino?

Most enthusiasts, particularly when they begin their journey, will want integrated development environments or IDEs for Arduino boards. The IDE is open-source software written via Java and will function for several platforms like Linux, Windows, and Mac. The IDE helps people write codes. This enables easier code loading onto devices with a few clicks. The code for Arduino is majorly written via Wiring, based on the Processing language for programming.

Types of Arduino Boards Available

Here are some of the top Arduino Circuit Boards that you can check out as per your requirements:

Entry-Level Options

These are boards that usually have a smaller I/O port count and slower clock speeds. They mostly use 8-bit microcontrollers and are easy to adapt to and build several projects. Some top picks include the following:

1. Arduino UNO R3- This marvel is a highly popular choice, driven by the ATMega328P microcontroller. It is hugely revered by the development community since it is affordable and easy to understand while offering several premade modules alongside. This makes it ideal for creating newer prototypes or projects alike. It also comes with 14Digital I/O, from which the six pins include 10-bit analog inputs, 8-bit PWM pins, and more. There are also communication ports available, such as UART, 12C, SPI, and others.

2. Arduino Nano- It is a smaller version of the Arduino UNO and comes with similar functions in a smaller package. The key differentiators include no DC power jack, a mini USB port in place of the USB B port, and the converter chip which is USB-TTL. There is the USB-UART bridge chip, FT32, and this one is also quite an affordable option.

3. Arduino PRO Mini- This is a scaled-down avatar of the Arduino Nano. It has most features of the latter, without the USB port and the USB-TTL bridge onboard. There is just a header where the UART pins are present. These are used for the Pro mini programming with the external module (USB-UART). This board helps a great deal with those applications where there is restricted space on offer. The Pro Mini comes in a couple of versions, namely the 5V and 3.3V versions. For the latter, the CPU speed is restricted to just 8MHz.

4. Arduino Leonardo- This uses an ATMega32U4 chip for power and comes with a higher count of analog input and IO pins. It also has integrated USB communication which does away with the requirement for another processor or even a USB-UART dedicated bridge chip. The board can thus easily link up to a computer in the form of an HID (Human Interface Device) or the Virtual (CDC) serial or COM port.

5. Arduino Micro- This is smaller by way of its design and overall form. It is the Leonardo in a tinier avatar and has the same features and functionalities. However, there is no DC input jack. It can also double up as the Virtual COM port device or HID.

6. Arduino Nano Every- This is a new-gen board that is also compact and comes with similar and even better features than the Arduino Nano. This gets the ATMega4809 processor for higher power along with 50% higher program memory and 200% larger RAM. There are castellated holes for enabling easier usage of the Nano Every on the PCB without any header pin requirements.

7. Arduino Mega2560 Rev3- This is the largest board of the lot and is tailored for diverse applications that require peripherals or I/O. It gets the ATMega2560 processor and has higher I/O counts than many other boards. It also comes with four UARTs and 16 analog inputs in tandem with 54 I/O pins.

Mid-Range Options with More Features

These boards are more suited for projects of an advanced nature with superior functionalities in place. Some of them include the following:

1. Arduino Nano 33 BLE- This is a supremely powerful Arduino board with a similar form to the Nano. Yet, it has more power with the cutting-edge Nordic Semiconductors NRF52480 and the ARM Cortex-M4 32-bit CPU that functions at 64MHz. It also gets 256KB SRAM and 1MB flash along with BLE or Bluetooth Low Energy. It can double up as a Bluetooth client and BLE along with the host device. There is another avatar with several extra sensors like temperature and humidity sensors, 9-axis inertial sensors, barometric sensors, light colour, light intensity sensors, proximity sensors, and gesture and microphone sensors.

2. The Arduino MKR Zero- This one is usually tailored to help those who make music or work in the industry. It comes with an integrated SPI interface and SD connector for I2S communication digital audio protocols. This has a 32-bit M0+ SAMD21 MCU and is a 3.3V offering.

3. Arduino UNO WIFI Rev2- This one is an Uno model with even more exciting features. The form is the same but the components are not. The board gets the ATMega4809 MCU with the U-Blox NINA-W102 for Bluetooth and WIFI-based communication. The NINA SoC with its TCO/IP integrated protocol stack makes it convenient to get the Wi-Fi network or any other access point. The board gets the ECC608 or crypto chip accelerator onboard for better security. There is also the IMU for inertial measurement purposes.

4. Arduino Due- It is an updated version of the Arduino Mega and comes with a 32-bit microcontroller (ARM) which is more powerful. There are 54 I/Os and also 12 analog inputs in total. The Atmel SAM3x8E ARM Cortex-M3 CPU is the powerhouse of the board in this case with an 84MHz clock speed and several extra interfaces.

5. Arduino MKR Vidor 4000- This board comes with a host of features. It gets the onboard FPGA chip and Intel Cyclone 10CL016 FPGA as well. It is not just powerful, but also easily configurable. It can take care of swift digital video and audio processing while coming with an MIPI camera connector, Micro-HDMI connector, BLE, and WI-Fi which drive the NINA W102 module. There is support available for the LiPo batteries via the connector onboard a MIPI.

6. Arduino Zero- This is a board with the same type of form as the UNO. However, it has more power on tap along with added features. It comes with the Atmel SAMD21 MCU which is the ARM Cortex 32-bit MCU + M0. It also gets an embedded debugger or the EDBG which ensures a complete debug interface minus any requirements for an external debugger or any extra hardware. It also ensures support for the virtual COM port.

Arduino IoT Boards

These are boards that are IoT (Internet of Things) enabled. They can enable the development of even more advanced devices, including several household appliances as well. Here are some of the top choices in this regard:

1. Arduino Nano 33 IoT- This gets a similar form as the Nano with the ARM Cortex 32-bit M0 and Atmel SAMD21. There is Bluetooth and Wi-Fi along with the U-Blox NINA-W102 module. There is also a microchip ECC60r crypto chip which ensures better communication along with a 6-axis IMU onboard as well. This makes it suitable for projects that have features like pedometer balancing, positioning, vibration alarms, and more. It also has compatibility with diverse IoT-based cloud solutions.

2. Arduino MKR FOX 1200- This comes across as a highly affordable option in terms of Sigfox connectivity. It is majorly used throughout Europe and helps run various initiatives for data gathering without supervision or maintenance. The board gets a SAMD21 MCU and the Microchip Smart RF ATA852o.

3. Arduino MKR WAN 1300/1310- These boards come with LoRa connectivity and SAMD21 processors (low-power varieties). There is also the CMWX1ZZABZ LoRa module from Murata along with the ECC508 Crypto chip for the company. While these boards have their individual features, they both have support for frequency bands of 433/868/915 MHz.

4. Arduino MKR GSM 1400- This one offers several cellular network-based advantages for superior communications. This gets the 32-bit SAMD21 ARM Cortex M0 MCU along with the SARA-U201 module. It has support for varied cellular bands including the DSC180MHz, E-GSM 1900MHz, and PCS 1900MHz.

5. Arduino MKR WIFI 1010- This one is an ideal solution for pico-network and IoT applications. It may be driven by a LiPo battery. The NINA-W102 module is used by MKR Wi-Fi for communications and there is the ECC5087 crypto chip and RBG LED available too.

6. Arduino MKR NB 1500- This board helps with the addition of narrowband communication for any project and is ideal for those devices or projects which will be deployed across remote locations. These are usually places where internet connectivity is not always viable or in scenarios where the device is challenging to power on. This may include remote tracking, deployment in the field, and devices that are solar-powered. The SARA-R410M-02B module has support for several Cat M1/NB1 bands including 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 12, 13, 18, 19, 20, 25, 26, and 28. There is a battery charger provided onboard in tandem with a connector for the board’s external antenna as well.

7. Arduino Nano RP2040 Connect- This one is a new addition to the Arduino line-up and comes with a raspberry Foundation RP2040, the first such in-house chip from it. It is an ARM Cortex dual-core M0 + SoC that functions at 133 MHz and comes with a 16MB external flash chip and 24KB SRAM. This board also has NINA-W102 for both BLE and Wi-Fi connections. There is also an in-built mic along with activation features for audio too. Audio control and voice recognition are other key features available onboard along with the six-axis IMU. The board also gets RPi Pico compatibility.

8. Portenta H7- This is one of the quickest Arduino boards on offer. It can take care of several cutting-edge coding tasks in tandem with several real-time activities alongside. It is mainly tailored for applications as diverse as laboratory equipment, advanced industrial machinery, PLCs, computer vision, robotics controllers, user interfaces that are industry-ready, mission-critical equipment or devices, high-speed booting computation, and dedicated stationary computers as well. There is the STM32XX dual core with its Cortex M7 core and M4 core which function at 480 MHz and 240 MHz respectively. They engage via the Remote Procedure Call or RPC process, which is used throughout contemporary CPU architecture like the Power PC, x64, and x86. There is also an on-chip GPU for the STM32H747 and the JPEG decoder and encoder, in tandem with the Chrom-ART Accelerator.

Along with these boards, you can also take a closer look at Adafruit Circuit Boards or Sparkfun Circuit Boards, based on your specific requirements. There are boards to suit almost every type of need and project and you should choose carefully. Examine all the features and core aspects before going ahead with your final decision. Evelta, as a trusted marketplace for electronic components, offers a wide range of Arduino boards from reputable manufacturers, ensuring genuine and reliable products for your projects. Empower your projects with Arduino and unlock the potential of this popular open-source platform with Evelta as your trusted partner. Happy tinkering and creating with Arduino circuit boards!