I received a kit from Protostack for review purposes, this kit is for the ATmega8 micro controller, and is probably the cheapest available with the shipping costs only 20$ worldwide, so anybody can afford it.
After I assembled the kit, I also added a few extra parts, like series diode with the +5V supply and few capacitors for decoupling, filter choke for the AVCC, these are not mandatory, since the circuit works well without them(I tried), but its good to have it on the board.
After I changed the fuse settings to work with the external 16MHz crystal, I added a LED and resistor and a pin header, the circuit board has good quality solder mask and plating, this makes it easy to solder, it has large pads on the bottom, and no pads on the top layer, this way even when you use uncoated wires for connections which run over the pads on the top you don’t the risk short circuits.
Since the holes are trough plated, removing thicker wires like diode terminals can be tricky and you can rip out the hole plating, but even in this case the pad on the bottom remains intact, so this isn’t a problem. Although it would be better if no hole plating where used on the prototyping area.
The prototyping area is similar to a breadboard, the major difference is that the ATmega8 ports are nicely ordered, the supply and ground pins are connected together, and the programming pins are tied to a 10 pin header. I use the avr mk2 programmer which has only the 6pin header, so I had to make the adapter cable.
I also made a simple demo project with 1 LED, and 1 push button, in that project I will explain how to use the digital inputs and outputs, many people doesn’t pay attention to these simple peripherals and make typical design errors which will generate aleatory errors very hard to debug.
The demo project will get described in a future post.
ATmega8 kit from Protostack