New Arduino UNO Compatible Board ‘Nero’ Handles Higher Loads Without Overheating

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A new energy efficient Arduino compatible board is created by Fred Dart at FTDI. Built around the FTDI FT231X USB UART, the NerO board is capable of delivering 5V at a full 1A without overheating.

Equipped with a 16MHz ATMega328 MCU with Optiboot Bootloader, 14 Digital I/O Pins (6 PWM outputs), 6 Analog Inputs and FTDI FT231XS USB UART interface, the new board works with an input voltage of – 7V to 20V (9V or 12V recommended) and comes in a UNO R3 form factor. Further, the board is fully programmable using the Arduino IDE.

The inspiration behind NerO was the limited current handling capability of the original Arduino UNO R3, which handled only about 800mA and 300mA loads with 9V and 12V power inputs respectively before the voltage of the 5V regulator drops. So, FTDI decided to make its own board supporting up to 1A without excess heat dissipation. Another requirement that led FTDI to consider a new 3rd party UNO compatible reference design was FCC/CE conformity.

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The tests conducted with the board showed that with the switching regulator used in NerO, the voltage remains around 5V up to 1A, and the temperature never exceeds 60 deg C. Other tests also depicted much higher efficiency of NerO regulator (80 to 90%) compared to 30 to 50% for the LDO regulator on the original Arduino board.

To help the community benefit from the design work, FTDI will make available on launch of the board, the NerO schematic and PCB design files publicly as a reference design under OSHWA (Open Source Hardware Association) terms.

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