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A Tougher Arduino?


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Ordered a Ruggeduino from ruggedcircuits.com a few days ago.  Functions just like an Arduino Uno R3.  What intrigued me was all the added protection circuitry.  I'm looking to put some Arduinos into a home automation project, and the idea of connecting a bare Arduino to external relays, sensors, etc., bothers me a little bit.  Generally, I'm sure a bare Arduino would work fine, but I worry about how a bare Arduino would fare after a brown out, power surge, near lightning strike, etc.  The added clamping diodes and current limiters on all the Arduino inputs and outputs helps me sleep better at night.


There are a few trade offs to be aware of.  The Ruggeduino parts cost more (about twice as much as a regular Arduino).  In addition, the current limiters on all the I/O pins, which gives added protection, limit the output drive current to ~20mA at 0V while driving high, and only ~4-5mA at 4V.  Bare Arduinos are spec'ed at 40mA per output, and I've measured ~80mA at 0V while driving high.  If the reduced drive is a problem, there are holes on the board for jumpering around the current limiters.  Lastly, there are 4 header pins missing - the top 2 on both sides.  These are for signals no one seems to use (2 are redundant, one is a no connect), so I haven't missed them.


So far, so good.  Works as advertised (just like my old Arduino Uno R3).  Unlike my Arduino, the Ruggeduino did not come with Firmata pre-installed.  I used the Arduino IDE to flash it in.



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