Saturday, August 31, 2013

Ktuluino - How to Build Your Own Arduino Clone

Arduino clones are ubiquitous. A quick web search or a look at any electronics hobbyist website will turn up some kind of Arduino-like microcontroller board. Studies have shown that the absolute last thing the world needs is another Arduino clone that adds nothing or very little to existing designs. One might surmise that these are the exact reasons why someone should never design another Arduino clone, yet here is Ktuluino.

There's nothing original or particularly compelling about the Ktuluino. The name even has "ino" added to the end which has become so overused that it's often painful and cringe inducing. With seemingly everything going against it, why would someone make something like this? The answer is… this board was an exercise in PCB design. I need stuff to practice on, and although there’s nothing revolutionary about this board, it is practical. Who can’t use another Arduino, or three?

There are some good things about the Ktuluino. It’s relatively inexpensive, easy to build, compatible with tons of Arduino shields, and it has a Great Old One silk-screened on the board. If you need a few really cool Arduinos, you can order the boards from OSH Park, or download the Gerbers from Github and have boards made. For build instructions and a bill of materials see below. If you want to design your own Arduino clone, see the Ktuluino schematic and search the web. There's a ton of information and open source designs out there.

Build Instructions

There's not much to building a Ktuluino. All the component locations are printed on the board. Only the ATMEGA328 and the LED need to be oriented properly. Make certain that the notch in the IC and the socket match up with the notch depicted on the board. For the LED, make sure the flat part of the LED lines up with the flat edge of the LED circle on the board.

The 28-pin DIP socket, 5.5mm x 2.1mm power jack, ICSP header, and female headers can all be omitted to cut costs or if your project doesn't need them.

You'll need either to purchase an ATMEGA328-P-PU that is already programmed with a boot loader or program it yourself with something like an Adafruit Standalone AVR ISP Programmer Shield.

Set the board type in the Arduino IDE to Duemilanove to compile and load sketches to the board.

The board can be powered with 5 volts from the FTDI header or the 5.5 x 2.1mm jack not both at the same time.


Soldering Iron
Solder (Lead-free solder is harder to work with but less toxic. Choose wisely.)
A Well Ventilated Area or a Fume Extractor

Bill of Materials (for one Ktuluino)

0.1" 36-pin Male Header 90 Degree (enough for 6 boards)



  1. I build things like this all the time on a breadboard, it sure would be nice to have one that is compatible with the shields. How much would you sell for a full kit, or everything excluding the MCU?

    1. I don't sell Ktuluino kits. You can follow the link in the article to the project on OSH Park and order the circuit boards. Everything else can be purchased from any number of electronics component vendors. The bill of materials contains links to all the components at US retailers.

  2. How about final cost of this project?

    1. There's no simple final cost, but they're about $20 a piece for a Ktuluino with OSH Park PCBs.

      Unfortunately, the custom PCBs are the most expensive part. It's around $28 for a PCB this size from OSH Park. Whether you want one or two boards, you get three for $28. You may be able to get the boards cheaper from other PCB services, I don't know.

      The components cost about $10 per/board. So you can do one for around $38 or three for around $60.

  3. How were you able to use such a nice font in Kicad? Did you import the text as a bitmap (same as the logo)?

    1. On second glance it seems that it's just the default font after all. Somehow the dimensions and thickness that you used just look extra nice to me.

      Anyway, cool writeup :)

    2. You're right Chris. It's the default font.

  4. Are the Kicad project files available? I would like to add some simple sensors, and there's plenty of room...