Arduino Mega: all about the big development board

Arduino Mega

 

If the Arduino UNO Rev3 board is too small for you and you want to create more advanced projects and enjoy more power, then what you are looking for is an Arduino Mega board, another of the available models created by the same developers as the original board, but with a faster microcontroller, more memory, and more pins for programming.

Arduino Mega has many similarities with Arduino UNO, but there are some differences that make it very special for all the makers who are looking for something more. Usually, if you are starting out it is not the best choice, but it is if you have already exploited the capabilities of UNO and want to go further.

What is Arduino Mega?

Logo de Arduino

Arduino Mega is another official development board based on the Atmel ATmega2560 microcontroller, hence its name. It also includes 54 digital input and output pins, of which 15 can be used as PWM outputs. It also has 16 analog inputs, 4 UARTs as serial ports for hardware, a 16 Mhz crystal oscillator, USB connection, power connector, ICSP head and reset button.

As you can see, compared to the Arduino UNO, it has a higher capacity, which also leads to an increase in its price slightly. However, it is not expensive at all, it only costs a few euros more and you can find it in many specialized shops:

It contains everything you need for your microcontroller, so you only have to worry about mounting your DIY project, connecting the board via USB to your computer, downloading the sketch you created with Arduino IDE, and getting it working.

You should know that, unlike previous cards, the Arduino Mega does not use an FTDI USB-to-serial driver chip. Instead, it uses an ATmega16U2 chip in its latest revisions (Rev1 and Rev2 used the ATmega8U2). That is, it has a USB-to-serial converter programmer.

This board is ideal for many advanced projects, such as serving as a brain for 3D printers, industrial CNC robots, etc. And they are totally compatible with the shields of Arduino UNO, so you will find a lot of compatible elements and a great community always willing to help with your doubts and problems.

And if you want to know more about the compatible electronic components and modules, in this blog there are a lot of them explained step by step with everything you need to put them to work. Like for example:

Detailed information about Arduino Mega

The Arduino Mega board has everything you can find in the Arduino Uno Rev3 board, but with some additions that make it more powerful, as I mentioned before.

The technical features of the Arduino Mega plate you should know are

  • Atmel ATmega2560 microcontroller at 16 Mhz
  • 256 KB flash memory (8KB used by the bootloader that cannot be used for your programs)
  • 8 KB SRAM memory.
  • 4 KB EEPROM memory.
  • 5v operating voltage
  • Input voltage 7-12v
  • Input voltage limits: 6-20v
  • 54 digital pins, of which 15 can be PWM. They can be configured using Arduino IDE code as inputs or outputs.
  • 16 analog input pins.
  • 4 UARTs, USB, RX and TX pins for communication, and also TWI and SPI.
  • Power pins: 5v to supply power to the projects whenever the board is being powered with between 7 and 12v or by the 5v USB. The 3v3 pin can supply with a voltage of 3.3 volts. The GND pins can be used to ground your projects. While the IOREF pin is the board’s pin to provide the reference voltage with which the microcontroller operates.The current for each
  • I/O pin is 40mA DC.
  • The current delivered by the 3v3 pin is 50mA.

Datasheets

You can also download a technical sheet or datasheet with everything you need to know about the electronic details of this product, the maximum currents and voltages allowed so as not to damage the board, complete pinout, and a lot of information you will like to have. You can download it from the official website:

Arduino IDE and programming

Screenshot of Arduino IDE

To program Arduino Mega, and also for other development board models, you have at your disposal the software called Arduino IDE. This development platform is compatible with MacOS, Windows and Linux. A whole suite of free and open source software with which you can start creating your own source codes and write them to the board using the USB cable.

As you may know, this program uses the native Arduino ‘Strong’ programming language for its high-level Processing-based programming. It has similarities with other languages, as it is based on C++, with similar syntax and forms.

In the articles of this blog we usually include at the end some snippets of code or sketch with code examples to start with each project or component we present. This way you can start taking your first steps. But if you want to learn more about Arduino IDE and how to program your projects, I invite you to download our free programming course Arduino IDE in PDF.

In addition, as a complement to your advanced projects, you may also need other apps or software to help you get everything out in the open and clear so you don’t get confused. That’s why you’ll be interested in knowing also about projects like:

  • KiCad: is an EDA environment for electronic development with which to make complex schemes and layouts. It is a free, open source, multi-platform software for Linux, macOS and Windows.
  • Fritzing: is a very practical open source and multiplatform software that will help you to create your projects in a schematic way or in 3D to show them.

 

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