We love open source hardware. The free use of the Arduino platform has allowed for all sorts of affordable clones to hit the market. Even better than offering an affordable clone, though, is the ability to improve upon the original design. This is what the team at YourDuino has done with their RoboRED Arduino Uno compatible board. This thing has the same dimensions, pin-out, and even programs just like the original UNO. Your shields will fit, your sketches will load, and you can use the female header just like the original. You are going to save about $10 buying this board which is a great deal, especially after you consider how the RoboRed is different.
Most early stage Arduino projects look like a rat’s nest. One of the best parts of the Arduino is the ability to quickly plug things into it without soldering. You are fine to plug a sensor right into the signal pin you need, land power and ground, and away you go. This is great until you need to plug in 5 sensors, or 2 sensors and 2 servos, or a sensor and a LCD screen. You simply run out of power and ground pins. I can hear you now “but Josh, that is what a breadboard is for” and you are right. Until you’ve had to troubleshoot the rats nest that grows on a typical breadboard or worse the tiny breadboard from the prototyping shield. The RoboRED fixes this by giving you a 3 pin male header ON EVERY SINGLE I/O PIN.
This is huge for anyone that uses servos and 3 wire sensors. Instead of using male jumpers from your female headers, you can plug right into the board. No need for a breadboard or protoshield. I see this being perfect for those building simple and quick robots. You also get a 4 pin header for the TX/RX pins and the SDA/SCL pins. This makes both serial and I2C methods easy to connect.
The one problem with this system is that with all that power coming from the board you will quickly use the Arduino’s 500mA current limit. Good thing YourDuino thought of that and beefed up the 5V power supply. The RoboRED can be powered from 7-24V DC which is a lot better than the 12V limit on the original Arduino. In fact, when powered by 9-24V the RoboRED can supply up to 2 Amps to servos and sensors. That’s four times the original Arduino. Just don’t try to power 2 Amps worth of sensors off of your laptop’s USB cable unless you need a disabled USB port for some reason. The other power advantage of is a redesign of the 3.3V power supply to provide a full 500mA’s instead of 50mA. The RoboRED is also compatable with low power devices (like the RFID Reader) in 3.3V mode by moving a jumper. Make sure all of your devices need the same voltage before using this feature as it changes all of the V pins to low voltage. So check out the RoboRED in YourDuino’s online store.