5 Unique Arduino-compatible Boards to Get You Building

August 08, 2015 by Jennifer A. Diffley

With the influx of Arduino boards out there, it's difficult to separate the winners from the flops. Here are five of our favorites

Need a creative jumpstart to your weekend? Check out these five unique Arduino-compatible boards, sure to get your maker brain ticking.

1. The Screwduino

The Screwduino sets out to banish soldering. It incorporates an Arduino design and replaces the headers and pins with screw terminals. Features:

  • Arduino UNO compatible with Arduino UNO bootloader
  • Select UNO in Arduino IDE to download card
  • Card has no USB connector/chip so you need to use an FTDI download cable or FTDI to USB interface for USB (not supplied)
  • You can also download code via ArduinoISP via the ICSP header
  • 4-pin I2C connector for easy attachment of an I2C LCD display and other I2C sensors (like temperature sensors). Beware there are many different I2C pinouts.
  • Added 10K ohm pullup resistors (R3 and R4) from the I2C SDA/SCL to +5V If the user doesn't want the resistors, they can snip them out of the circuit
  • Uses through hole parts so that it is easier to assemble. The sole exception is the voltage regulator which is surface mount for heat transfer
  • 5mm pitch screw terminal blocks.
  • Reset switch.
  • 7-12V DC on standard 2.1mm DC power connector
  • Power selection jumper (FTDI, Regulator, Screw Terminals)
  • Four (4) good mounting holes that use 4-40 screws and have more than enough clearance for screw heads, standoffs and/or nuts.


2. The LightBlue Bean

The Bean is Arduino-compatible and sets out to offer startups and makers an easier way to develop IoT devices. Features:

  • 3-axis accelerometer
  • Temperature sensor
  • CR2032 coin cell battery
  • ATmega 328p
  • 8 MHz clock speed
  • 3V operating voltage
  • 6 digital I/O pins, 2 analog pins
  • Bluetooth LE Peripheral
  • Wireless programming
  • Support on OS X and iOS
  • Including Windows 8 support

Also check out the new LightBlue Bean+ on Kickstarter with even more features.

3. The Qduino Mini

The first tiny Arduino-compatible board with a built-in battery charger and fuel gauge. Great for embedding into super small projects. Features:

  • ATmega32U4 Processor - Arduino Leonardo Compatible
  • 32KB Flash Storage
  • 2.5KB SRAM
  • 3.3V @ 8MHz
  • 20 Digital I/O // 14 Dedicated
  • 12 Analog Channels // 6 Dedicated
  • 7 Digital I/O also PWM channels
  • SPI, I2C, UART available
  • LED Indicators for: ON, Charge Status, TX, RX, D13
  • TPS78233 3.3V 150mA Regulator
  • MCP73832 LiPo Battery Charger
  • MAX17048 LiPo Battery Fuel Gauge

4. The Piccolino


A small, WiFi-enabled, ultra flexible Arduino with integrated OLED. It's programmed exactly like an Arduino Pro Mini. Features:

  • CPU: MEGA328p-AU
  • Frequency: 16 MHz
  • RAM: 2Kb (some used by the bootloader)
  • ROM: 32Kb (some used by the bootloader)
  • VCC: 3.3v direct, or 3.3-12v (14vmax) via the VIN input
  • Total digital I/O: 15 (shared, see below)
  • Analog I/O: 3
  • Other: I2C & SPI bus
  • Integrated peripherals:
  • 128×64 OLED low power display
  • 8266 WIFI 802.11 b/g/n with nodeMCU loaded
  • 2 channel passive TOUCH interface
  • Enclosure: 3D Printed enclosure (open source)

5. The Pixelduino

The Pixelduino is an Arduino-compatible microcontroller that features a 1.5" 128x128 pixel color OLED screen, making it perfect for creating wearables and other tiny devices. Features:

  • Processor : Atmel Atmega328P @ 5V / 16MHz
  • IO pins : 14 digital, 6 analog
  • Memory : 32K flash, 2K RAM
  • Voltage regulator : TPS61202 5V boost converter
  • Input voltage : 1.5 - 5.5V recommended
  • Available supply current : 100mA @ 0.5V, 1A @ 3V, 1.3A @ 3.7V
  • Power connector : JST PH (standard for small LiPo cells) 
  • Display : 128x128 16-bit color 1.5" (38mm) OLED w/ SSD1351 driver
  • PCB Size : 1.7" x 1.7" (43 x 43mm)


But in case those weren't enough, we also bring you....

 The WTF Duino

The WTF Duino is a closed source, impressively confusing, banana-shaped Arduino board that can "also be used as a boomerang."

Why does this exist? 
No idea.