Bought a couple of these some weeks ago, only now got around to playing with them. I am posting here because I am extremely impressed with this product. It has elevated Pololu higher as a preferred manufacturer.
I have built many projects using the ATmega328P chip. (see 2 old boards below) The process of getting all the components onto a piece of vero board and getting it working, takes some time. The A-Star has all this in a neat little package, smaller than I can make it with a 28 pin Dip. It comes in 4 frequency and 2 voltage configurations. The on board regulator ensure a stable voltage supply. The micro on the A-Star is an updated version of the ATmega328P with more features.
Pololu loads the correct frequency bootloader so it will code correctly via the FTDI interface. BTW highly recommend the following programmer. It works perfectly. The Pololu web site has excellent documentation, schematic and trouble shooting guide.
The cost of the A-Star is less than the individual parts for getting a 28 Dip version to work.
Today I investigated the power consumption of a 3V3 8MHz version.
Board powered Green LED on = 5mA
D13 LED on = 6.3mA
sleep mode = 200uA. (Green power LED on)
For a battery powered project that wakes, reads a sensor, and goes back to sleep, 200uA is excellent.
(although I have run a ATmega328P at 9uA, but did not have anything attached)
I will be using these in the future projects rather than trying to build one on vero board.
Would like to hear from others who have used these A-Star boards from Pololu.
I haven’t used one of the A star boards myself, but the 328P has been a staple of the maker industry for years mainly because of its pride of place on the Arduino Uno dev board - you just can’t fault the things, and they’re just so well supported and documented.
That’s some nice handiwork on setting them up on the perf board! But yes, the pololu products I’ve had have always been bang on their specs. They seem to do a lot more testing and product characterisation (or at least they publish more of it) than a lot of the other maker/hobbyist electronics manufacturers out there.
I’m really interested to see what happens with the new Raspberry Pi RP2040 though - the Pico boards a so cheap and so much more powerful and versatile I suspect they’re going to replace the 328P as the mainstay of the home gamer!
Looking forward to the arrival of my first Pi Pico from Core. I see its price as being a big draw card, along with faster processor and more flexible programming. There is one thing that will keep me using ATmega328 devices for certain projects; power consumption. The Pico data sheet shows 90mA running some applications and 1.3mA in sleep mode. Compared with a Pi Zero which does not really have a sleep mode but does have Blue tooth, Wifi and is running a Linux system.
When it comes down to it they all have their good points. Depends on what you want to do as to which will work best.
But I agree, (yet to be tested) the Pico looks like it would be a good starting point and easier to get going for a beginner.
I can certainly agree with you on Pololu’s range of products!
As you may already know the Teensy Range is quite similar to the A-Star although you wont get Pololu’s comprehensive documenation.
PS: Zack Freedman loves his Teensy’s and thats where I found out how powerful they can be!