Exen Proto – A Tiny 32-bit Arduino Compatible Board

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The Exen Mini was categorized as one of the world’s smallest 32-bit Arduino compatible boards that was launched by Nerdonic, although the board was able to get the job done in some areas it still had limited capacity, it had only 8 I/O pins. Based on the success and limitations of the Exen Mini, Nerdonic has launched a new similar board, but with improved I/O options called the Exen Proto.
Exen Proto
Just like the Exen Mini, the Exen Proto is based on Microchip SAMD21 Cortex M0+ microcontroller allowing projects previously built for the Exen Mini board to easily migrate to the new board.

The Exen Proto is a small 32-bit Arduino compatible board based around the Arduino Zero bootloader, so projects built for the Arduino Zero won’t have problems working on the Exen Proto. The Exen Proto board is also breadboard compatible, meaning it will comfortably fit into a standard breadboard without the need for any extra connectors or manipulation.

The board is pretty small as compared to the likes of Arduino Zero and big as compared to its predecessor Exen Mini, it measures for about 14.9 x 29.8 mm and weighs just about 1.1 grams. It comes with 256KB of ROM (Program Memory), 32KB of RAM, processing speed of up to 48MHz, and up 20 I/O pins. The I/O pins include 19x PWM, 11x ADC (Analog), Serial, SPI, I2C and Digital pins. The Exen Proto can be powered by either the Micro USB port, 3.3v to 20v input pin (regulated to 3.3v with a 3.3v output pin), or directly to the 3.3v pin.

The board can be programmed with the Arduino IDE thanks to the pre-flashed Arduino Zero bootloader . The Exen Proto board is expected to come with some add-ons board or shields like a Li-Ion/Li-Po charge and discharge shield that can be charged by either the power pin or the USB port on the Exen Proto.

Below are some of the specifications for the Exen Proto board:

  • MCU – Microchip SAMD21 Cortex M0+ MCU @ 48 MHz with 256KB flash, 32KB SRAM
  • I/Os via 2x 12-pin 2.54mm pitch headers
    • Up to 20x digital I/O
    • Up to 19x PWM
    • Up to 11x analog (ADC) up to 12-bit resolution
    • 2x UART
    • Up to 5x I2C
    • 1x reset
    • Limits – 3.3V, 7mA
  • USB – 1x micro USB port
  • Programming – Via micro USB port or SWD header
  • Misc – Power LED, user LED, button
  • Power Supply
    • 3.3-20V (regulated to 3.3v) via power Pin 1
    • 3.3V via power pin 2
    • 5V (regulated to 3.3v) via Micro USB port
    • Current Draw = ~10mA
  • Dimensions – 29.8 x 14.9 x 4.4mm
  • Weight – 1.1 grams

The Exen Proto board is currently being crowd-funded on Indiegogo and has surpassed its 1000 GBP goal, although that doesn’t matter since the campaign is a flexible campaign. The board is available for purchase from 8 GBP for a single unit excluding shipping. More information about the product can be found on the campaign page.

About Ayo Ayibiowu

Ayo is a software and hardware guy, a writer, and a prospective farmer. Ayo is passionate about STEM Education and Technology and has worked with over three EdTech startups in the last 5 years. Ayo currently talks and writes about technology especially in the areas of Internet of Things, Open Hardware, Startups, Precision Agriculture, Artificial Intelligence and Smart Cities. Ayo loves to cook and think about abstract ideas, and in his free time enjoys biking, hiking, traveling and playing video games. Reach me - charlesayibiowu@hotmail.com

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