FTDI NerO is an Energy Efficient Arduino UNO Compatible Board That Can Handle Higher Loads (Crowdfunding)

FTDI found out that the original Arduino UNO R3 boards had issues handling higher loads with 9V and 12V power input being limited to about 800mA and 300mA respectively before the voltage of the 5V regulator drops, so they decided to make their own supporting up to 1A.

NerO_Arduino_BoardNerO board specifications:

  • MCU – Atmel ATMega328 MCU @ 16MHz with Optiboot bootloader
  • I/Os
    • 14 Digital I/O Pins including 6 PWM outputs
    • 6 Analog Inputs
  • USB – micro USB port for programming using FTDI FT231XS USB UART interface (4)
  • Misc – Status and PWR LEDs, on/off switch
  • Power Supply – 7V to 20V ( 9V or 12V recommended ) via power barrel or VIN pin. 5V switching regulator.
  • Dimensions – UNO R3 form factor
  • FCC/CE certified

The board is manufactured in Europe by MikroElektronika, a company which I started the hear about more and more, especially since they’ve launched their mikroBUS standard connectors. The board is of course fully software compatible with Arduino UNO R3 board, and the main difference is about how it handles power. FDTI uses a shield with multiple resistors to test the load, and that the results they got on the original Arduino Uno R3 (not some Chinese clone).

Arduino_UNO_R3_Max_Current
Arduino UNO R3 Load Testing

The horizontal axis represent the LDO regulator external temperature, and it gets really hot (100 C and more) as the load increases.

Nero Board Load Testing
Nero Board Load Testing

While with the switching regulator used in NerO, the voltage remains around 5V up to 1A, and the temperature never exceeds 60 C.

Other tests also show much higher efficiency of NerO regulator (80 to 90%) compared to 30 to 50% for the LDO regulator on the original Arduino board.

FDTI designed the board for another project (CleO 3.5″ display for Arduino boards to become available in three months), but thought some people may be interested by the NerO, so the company launched a Kickstarter campaign, where you can acquire the board for 10 GBP (~$15 US) plus 2 GBP ($3) shipping, unless you live in Singapore where you can pick the board yourself. Delivery is scheduled for February or March 2016.

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