Ardu32 Assembly Guide

We are going to show you how to solder up an Ardu32 kit. The Ardu32 is a great way to learn how to solder and have a lot of fun Arduino programming. Most of the steps are very easy. 

First, make sure you have all the parts in your kit. 


You should have received the following:

  • Resistors
    • 4x 500K ohm
    • 1x 10K ohm
    • 1x 1K ohm
    • 3x 330 ohm
    • 3x 0 ohm (there's a spare one)
  • Capacitors
    • 1x 47uF electrolytic (red)
    • 1x 100uF electrolytic (red)
    • 2x 100nF ceramic
    • 2x 22pF ceramic
  • Connectors (not labeled)
    • 1x DB37 female cart connector
    • 2x DB9 male joystick connectors
    • 2x RCA jacks (red and yellow)
    • 1x DC barrel 
    • 1x switch with red button cap
    • 1x 16MHz crystal
    • 1x LM7805 regulator
    • 3x 2 pin headers
    • 1x 6 pin serial programming header
    • 1x 2x3 (6 pin) ICSP / SPI header
  • Diodes / LEDs
    • 1x Cyan LED
    • 1x Amber LED
    • 1x Large, black polarity protection diode
    • 3x small, signal diodes
  • PCB (not labeled)
    • Nice, shiny black PCB with white silk screen
  • Processor (in an antistatic bag)
    • AVR328P pre-loaded with serial bootloader and Ardu32 bootstrap software

While we carefully inspect all of our kits, if you are missing something, let us know, and we can help you out.

You will also need a few tools. We sell most of these items on our store, or you can use your own:

  • Soldering iron, flux, solder
  • wire cutters
  • Needle nose plyers
  • multimeter (optional for testing)

Assembly Tips

It helps to place components into the board and then trim the leads after you seat them down into the holes. This way, the exposed wire does not protrude very far out of the board. This will avoid long solder spurs that can sometimes be sharp.

Some components make a snug fit and you won't be perfect when bending the leads exactly even. You can use some needle nose plyers to pull the component flush down with the board. We had to do this with the power supply diode, for example. The leads were pretty thick.

Make sure you apply flux to the component leads as well as the PCB.

Ground pins will be harder to solder than normal lines on the board. This is because the ground copper pour can absorb a lot of heat before getting up to temperature. Just use a little patience while you wait for the lead to heat up. It can sometimes take quite a while.

Just worry about soldering up one pin while you hold in the component. You can let go on the second pin, since the solder joint will hold it into place.

Assembly Instructions

Step 1: Assemble the Power Supply

First we will assemble the power supply. You will need the following components:

  • 1x 47uF capacitor (red and labeled in white letters)
  • 1x 100uF capacitor (red and labeled in white letters)
  • Diode (you received one large, black diode. It is marked with a red tab)
  • DC barrel connector
  • 7805 linear regulator
  • Set the switch aside for now, we will do that last due to its height!

DC Barrel Connector

You will want to solder the DC barrel connector. It can only go in one direction.  This will allow a DC connection to most popular power adapters with a positive tip. The barrel goes into PW at the edge of the board. It will take quite a bit of solder, so be prepared to completely fill the holes. This will also allow it to make a solid mechanical connection, so it can survive many plug and unplug cycles.

The Diode

Next, you will solder the diode in the D5 position. Take care that the white stripe lines up with the white stripe on the silkscreen. This diode prevents any damage if the more rare type of negative tip power adapter is installed.

Red Electrolytic Capacitors

Then, you will need to solder the capacitors. Take care that the white negative stripe lines up with the solid white part of the circle. The white stripes will be facing inwards. You will want to put the 100uF capacitor in C1 and the 47uF capacitor in C6. The capacitors will help filter the power and reduce sudden voltage drops by supplying power while the regulator and power supply catch up to the demand. It will also help reduce noise from ending up in your TV video and audio, which can be annoying.

7805 Regulator

Finally, solder the 7805 regulator in the U2 position. This is a wide voltage range regulator that takes higher DC voltage and converts it to 5V logic level.  You will want to make sure that the metal tab on the regulator lines up with the narrow inner rectangle at the bottom of the PCB.

When you are done, it should look like this:


Step 3: Solder up the ceramic capacitors


Ceramic capacitors are yellow and a disc shape. 

You will want to solder the 22pF capacitors in C4 and C3. Then, solder in the 100nF in C2 and C5. It doesn't matter what direction these go in, as they are not polarized.

The 22pF capacitors add loading to the crystal so its oscillates. The 100nF at C2 is a filter or de-coupling capacitor, to prevent noise from entering the main processor. The C5 capacitor is used in conjunction with the DTR line to put the processor into reset for programming. It is essentially an Arduino "trick" that is commonly implemented across all AVR based Arduino boards.

Step 4: Solder up the crystal

Solder the crystal into Y1. It doesn't matter what direction the crystal goes in. This crystal works in conjunction with the loading capacitors to set the clock frequency for the processor.

Step 5: Solder the 500K resistors


Get your 500K resistors from the resistor bag. You should have 4 of them with the color code green, black yellow. Bend the top lead around the resistor, as you will be mounting them vertically --- 70's and 80's style! You will put them into R12, R9, R11, and R10. Don't worry about the direction as resistors have no polarity. These LEDs work as voltage divider circuits for analog game controller devices, such as Atari-style paddles and tablets.

Step 6: Blue 1K resistor

This lonely little resistor has no label. It helps your video signal generation and goes into R1. You will mount it vertically. Its color code is brown, black, red.

Step 7: 330 Ohm resistors

These two resistors are labeled in your kit. You will mount these horizontally and place into R2 and R3. It regulates the audio and video generation circuitries. Their color code is orange, orange, brown.

Step 8: 10K resistor

The 10K resistor will go into R8. It is mounted vertically as well. This is the pull up for the reset line. The color code is brown, black, orange.

Step 9: 0 Ohm Resistors 

Now here is where things get a little funny. You will be putting the 0 ohm resistors into D1 and D2 in the horizontal position. We have moved the diodes to another position in order to have full electrical compatibility with game cartridges. 0 ohm resistors are just a fancy word for a wire and they can be used to select options or route the circuit based on how it is assembled. Since the color black means 0, it just has one black stripe.

Step 10: Diodes to support cartridge and local video generation

You will want to populate R4, R5, and R6 with diodes. They can lay vertically. The black line should be pointing towards your 0 ohm resistor. For the R5, the diode line should be pointed up (the same direction as the DC barrel plug).

Step 11: Solder the LEDs

We have two LEDs: Cyan (labeled) and Amber. You can plug them in however you would like, but we plugged our Cyan into D3 and the Amber into D4.

You will notice that there is a square hole and a round hole,. Put the short lead into the square hole. You will also notice that there is a slight flat side on the LED, as well as on the silkscreen. Mount them flush with the board and solder them.

These LEDs are controlled by the cartridge, as we are out of spare pins on our AVR 328P.

Step 12: Solder the LED resistor

Look for the resistor with a single green or black dot on the paper ends. This is another 330 ohm resistor we will use for the LEDs. It can lay flat.

Step 13: Solder the game controller ports

Pop the two game controller ports into the bottom part of the board. Press it in until the large pegs click down. Now, apply solder. Note that these solder cups will take quite a bit of heat and solder to complete, so be patient! It might help to touch the iron to the large solder cup pads and press solder into the joint.

You will also want to make sure that the connector remains seated! It can easily pop out of place, and solder up slightly at a tilt.


Step 14: Connect up the processor

The processor has quite a few pins, so you will want to hold it against the board as you tack the 4 corners of the chip. This way, it does not solder in at a tilt.

You will also want to line up the little half circle at the end with the half circle on the PCB. This will make sure pin 1 is soldered in the correct position!

Note: the IC pins are typically spread out at a camber angle. You will want to slightly bend both sides of it on a hard surface (or possibly with your hands if you take anti-static precautions!). Carefully insert it and make sure none of the pins miss their holes. If you do miss a pin, and it becomes bent, take out the chip and carefully bend the pin back.

Step 15: Solder up the serial programming header

The Arduino serial programming header allows for connection of an FTDI. You will want to place in the header and tack both sides so it solders evenly. Also note that for whatever reason, the header we got was a little long. You may want to trim this down a little bit.

Step 16: Solder the game controller adapter

Place the DB37 connector into the holes. The outer plugs will snap the connector into place. This allows for an external cartridge to be plugged into your game console.

Step 17: Solder the video and audio connectors

These two RCA jacks provide the sound and video for your game console. They have some pretty hefty connections, so be patient. Make sure you add plenty of solder so it makes a good mechanical connection. This will be important as you plug and unplug your video connections.

Step 18: Solder the power button

We do this one last as it sticks out the furthest. You will find out very shortly that it will make it very difficult to do further work on the board without a set of extra hands, vice or jig.

We connected up the red cap (it just presses on) so we could hold the power button in better. But you can do this step later if you wish.

You are Now Complete!

Other than a few optional steps, you are now complete with the Ardu32. You can plug in power and plug it into a TV to give it a spin.

Connect a power supply to your Ardu32. While we suggest 6V or higher, we have had luck with even 5VDC power supplies.

Connect the red RCA cable to your TV audio and the yellow RCA cable to your TV video. Most modern TVs support composite video, and it will likely share one of the component video inputs. Take a look at the back of your TV and look for words such as "composite" or a yellow colored connector. Some TVs don't have these labeled very well, so try the different inputs on the component video until you see an image.

The Arduino comes pre-programmed with our bootstrap software, which contains a demo animation, a few games and utilities. Press the fire button on controller 1 (left) for a few seconds to enter the menu. We even have a mode to test out your controller (and your solder connections).

If you don't see any video, and your TV supports composite, be sure to inspect your solder connections. If you are still stumped, take a picture of the front and back and send it to our support staff. We can set you in the right direction.

You will want to purchase some Atari compatible joysticks if you don't have any laying around in the garage. There are several online retailers that sell inexpensive joysticks. If demand is high enough, we just might start carrying some here as well. 

Have fun! 


Optional Step 19: Solder up various headers

You have been provided headers for J8, AUX1,AUX2, SPI1. You will notice there are two J8s -- these perform the same reset function, but at different locations the board, depending on your preference. J8 performs the reset function when connected via jumper.

Optional Step 20: Attach rubber feet

There are 4 rubber feet supplied with your Ardu32. You can place these on the bottom of the PCB in the corners. This can prevent scratching of surfaces the game console is set upon, as well as protect it from shorts and static electricity.