SparkFun’s Open-Source MicroMod Ecosystem Accelerates Prototyping

10/20/2020 | By Nate

I like the Arduino Uno – the original with the socketed AtMega328 DIP chip, not the SMD version – because I tend to make mistakes and when I inevitably end up releasing the magic smoke from the microcontroller I can pop-out the chip and simply replace it with a new IC. It’s a simple and economical fix versus having to disconnect all my peripheral wiring and replace the whole board and potentially several dollars’ worth of good electronics or trying to desolder and replace an SMD microcontroller.

And while this works with direct replacements, it doesn’t help if I run out of code space, need a faster processor, lower power consumption, or to add additional features not supported by the original microcontroller. Then, I’m looking at swapping boards with potentially different footprints, pinouts, voltage requirements, and interconnects; a process many of us are all too familiar with. But SparkFun has a solution. To free themselves, and the rest of the world, from spending our time on this repetitive cycle SparkFun created the MicroMod ecosystem!

SparkFun’s Open-Source MicroMod Ecosystem Accelerates Prototyping

MicroMod does for processors what SparkFun’s Qwiic® ecosystem has done for peripherals, allowing for quick and easy swapping of circuit blocks without worry about electrical or physical characteristics. Each MicroMod processor board is fitted with a chipset or SoM such as the ESP32, Teensy, Artemis, or SAMD51 that is adapted to the M.2 card edge connector form-factor so it can plug into your choice of application-focused carrier boards including data logging, machine learning, input & display, or ATP (“All the Pins” breakout).

Now, using MicroMod, should you start prototyping your design with one type of processor board and find it doesn’t support all aspects of your application, you can easily swap it out for a different processor board and get right back to your design. Plus, each of SparkFun’s carrier boards features Qwiic connectors allowing a full, solderless plug-and-play modular prototype to be assembled in a fraction of the time that was once required.

SparkFun plans to release additional processor boards and carrier boards in the coming weeks and months, but they are also encouraging anyone to create their own MicoMod compatible boards. To facilitate this, they are offering guides, connector footprints, and symbols for Eagle PCB to support the development of this new open-source standard. Accelerate your next project by getting started with the SparkFun MicroMod ecosystem and enjoy the freedom to swap controllers as needed.

See MicroMod Development Board