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Arduino Uno clone integrates breadboard, exposes USB pins

Oct 10, 2016 — by Eric Brown — 658 views

STEMTera is an Arduino Uno compatible breadboard with LEGO-ready connectors. It exposes the pins of the Uno’s ATmega16U2 chip for easier native USB support.

The startup-backed STEMTera Breadboard has won its KickStarter funding, and is still available in various colors through Oct. 28. The packages cost $39 or $42 depending on whether you want the device in Mar. 2017 or Dec. 2016.

STEMTera Breadboard (left) and internal design showing LEGO connectors on bottom
(click images to enlarge)

The STEMTera is claimed to be the first breadboard that’s also an Arduino compatible. One could argue that Piote’s BreadBro also fits that description, although the STEMTera is a more integrated design. Both of these Arduino compatibles, as well as other products such as Awesome PCB’s $13 ArduShield prototyping shield, aim to reduce the cable clutter, and potential connection loss, when prototyping with Arduino and a breadboard.

The STEMTera adds some nifty twists to the integrated breadboard concept, however, including improved native USB development support and built-in LEGO-compatible connectors. Like BreadBro, the board is primarily aimed at STEM computer education classes where kids can easily get overwhelmed by all the wires and pins before they appreciate the rewards of IoT tinkering. The design “improves adaptability, mountability and protection, enabling more projects to be built in the lab or classroom,” says STEMTera.

The STEMTera Breadboard is pin compatible with the Arduino Uno R3, and supports almost all R3-ready shields, says STEMTera. Like the Uno, it runs on an ATmega328P MCU, but unlike Arduino’s original board, it exposes all the pins of the ATmega16U2 I/O controller chip. With the extra 21 pins, the chip becomes more than just a USB serial converter, enabling native USB development. The STEMTera supports the LUFA (Lightweight USB Framework for AVRs) framework, formerly known as MyUSB, without needing the ATmega328P to act as a middleman to translate messages over a slow serial connection.

STEMTera Breadboard sample projects: a hydroponics system (left) and a hydraulic pump
(click images to enlarge)

The bottom cover of the 112 x 80 x 16mm, 132-gram device is LEGO compatible, making it easier to connect LEGO bricks without requiring special adapters or mounting. Features linked to the 8-bit, 16MHz ATmega328P include 2KB SRAM, 32KB flash, 6x analog inputs, and 14x DIO, 6x of which are PWM. The subsystem for the 16MHz ATmega16U2 MCU, meanwhile, has its own 16KB flash, and 21x PWM, 3x of which are PWM.

The 5VDC device supports input voltage of 6-20VDC, and delivers 20mA DC current per interface. The board also integrates 4x LEDs.

Developers can use Arduino IDE, Atmel Studio, Codebender, Scratch, AVR-GCC, and AVR-GCC with LUFA. Sample demos include a USB HID based Scratch gamepad, a hydraulic pump that uses the LEGO Pneumatics Add-on Set, a hydroponics pump controller, an air wheel controller for car-racing games, and a USB Midi wind controller for measuring air pressure blown through a tube.

STEMTera Breadboard pinout (left) and STEMTera founder JP Liew’s former MicroView OLED Arduino, designed for SparkFun
(click images to enlarge)

The STEMTera Breadboard was developed by STEMTera founder JP Liew, who built the MicroView Arduino-compatible OLED display for SparkFun Elecronics. SparkFun founder Nathan Seidle is an advisor, and the product will be marketed and distributed by SparkFun, Little Bird Electronics (Australia), and ITEAD (China).

Further information

The STEMTera Breadboard is available on Kickstarter through Oct. 28 in $39 or $42 packages for Mar. 2017 or Dec. 2016 shipment, respectively. More information may be found on the STEMTera Breadboard Kicktarter page, as well as at

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