We use microcontrollers every day for many of our projects, mostly 8-pin but quite often 18-pin for the more complex products we are requested to design and build. We have found the following products to be particularly helpful for prototyping and for one-off projects – 18-pin project PCBs from UK company RK Education.
Pictured above is a RKP18HP board designed for use with 18-pin microcontroller such as PICAXE. This board gives 5 inputs, and 8 TIP121 power transistor outputs for high power applications. It is supplied with a software download socket to get your code onto your microcontroller.
Below is the RKP18Relay8 board which is again designed for 18-pin microcontrollers and takes up to 5 inputs and controls 8 SPDT relays each with LED indicators to show then they are energised. Again the software download socket is provided.
These items are available as just boards (PCB) or as full kits and are very competitively priced – transistor board £1.19, kit £3.49; relay board £2.00, kit £10.99. The kit prices include all the components shown – e.g. all the relays, screw in terminals, LEDs, resistors, etc, so all you need to add is your choice of 18-pin microcontroller and you need some solder and a soldering iron.
The power transistor board takes about 10-15 minutes to solder together, and the relay board around 15-20 minutes. Full instructions are provided and the PCBs are well labelled so it is difficult to make any mistakes.
Many other boards are also available for low power applications, smaller and larger microcontrollers, and much more. For a one off 28-pin or 40-pin microcontroller project (e.g. PICAXE 40X2 as pictured above) the corresponding boards with large prototyping areas are particularly useful.
Take a look at the RK Education website here.