Pololu A-Star 32U4 Prime SV MicroSD

PololuSKU: POL-3114
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The A-Star 32U4 Prime SV is a programmable board based on the ATmega32U4 AVR microcontroller and arranged in the common Arduino form factor. The A-Star Prime offers many additional features and improvements over competing products, including superior power management that enables efficient operation from 5V to 36V.

This configuration of the A-Star 32U4 Prime SV includes microSD support and is assembled with through-hole components as shown in the picture above so that all the basic features can be used without any additional soldering. The standard female headers common to many Arduinos are preinstalled, as is the 2×3 male ISP header, buzzer, DC power jack, and shorting block headers for enabling the microSD hardware, buzzer, and battery voltage monitor.

This is the SV version of the A-Star Prime, which operates from 5V to 36V.


The Pololu A-Star 32U4 Prime is a general-purpose programmable board based on the ATmega32U4 AVR microcontroller from Microchip (formerly Atmel) and arranged in the common Arduino form factor exemplified by the Uno R3 and Leonardo.

As such, the A-Star Prime (abbreviated A* Prime) is compatible with many Arduino shields, including most of the Uno format Arduino shields we carry. All 26 of the microcontroller’s GPIO lines are accessible on the board, including seven that can be used as PWM outputs and twelve that can be used as analog inputs.

The ATmega32U4 is capable of native full-speed USB, which makes it more versatile than similar boards that rely on USB-to-serial adapters: in addition to supporting a virtual (CDC) serial/COM port interface, the A-Star can appear to a connected computer as a mouse and keyboard. The A-Star’s USB interface can be accessed through its USB Micro-B connector.

The A* Prime supports the onboard microcontroller with many additional features and improvements over competing products, including enhanced connectivity and superior power management.

The Prime is available in two main versions:

  • Prime SV (this version) - Features a green solder mask and a switching step-down regulator that allows operation from 5V to 36V
  • Prime LV - Features a blue solder mask and a step-up/step-down voltage regulator that allows operation from 2V to 16V

Our comprehensive user’s guide provides the basics you need to get started with the A-Star as well as detailed technical information for advanced users.

This product requires a USB A to Micro-B cable (not included) to connect to a computer.

Features

  • Programmable ATmega32U4 MCU with 32 KB flash, 2.5 KB SRAM, 1 KB EEPROM, and native full-speed USB (clocked by precision 16 MHz crystal oscillator)
  • Preloaded with Arduino-compatible bootloader (no external programmer required)
  • All 26 general-purpose I/O lines from the ATmega32U4 are broken out (including PB0, PD5, and PE2); 7 of these can be used as hardware PWM outputs and 12 of these can be used as analog inputs
  • Convenient 0.1″-spaced power, ground, and signal connection points
  • Buzzer for simple sounds and music
  • microSD support
  • 3 user-controllable LEDs
  • 3 user pushbuttons
  • Reset button
  • Power features:
    • Can be powered from USB or from an external source (with several access points for connecting external power)
      • SV operating range: 5V to 36V
    • Switching 5V regulator enables efficient operation
    • 3.3V rail supplied by 300mA linear regulator
    • Power switch for external power inputs
    • Reverse-voltage protection on external power inputs
    • Power selection circuit allows for seamless switching between power sources while providing overcurrent protection and feedback about which power source is selected
  • 6-pin ISP header for use with an external programmer
  • Comprehensive user’s guide

A-Star 32U4 Prime SV 5V regulator

A major feature of the A* Prime SV is its power system, which allows it to efficiently operate from a 5 V to 36 V external source. The input voltage is regulated to 5 V by an ISL85410 switching step-down (buck) converter from Intersil, a higher-power version of the ISL85418 used on the smaller A-Star 32U4 Mini SV

As shown in the graph in the product images, the SV’s 5V switching regulator has an efficiency – defined as (Power out)/(Power in) – of 80% to 95% for most combinations of input voltage and load.

The A-Star’s components, including the microcontroller and LEDs, draw 30 mA to 40 mA in typical applications (without the buzzer, microSD card, or an LCD). The rest of the regulator’s achievable output current, which depends on input voltage as well as ambient conditions, can be used to power other devices. The green line in the graph shows the output currents where the regulator’s output voltage drops below 4.75 V. These currents are close to the limits of the regulator’s capability and generally cannot be sustained for long periods; under typical operating conditions, a safe limit for the maximum continuous regulator output current is approximately 1A.

The dropout voltage of a step-down regulator is defined as the minimum amount by which the input voltage must exceed the regulator’s target output voltage in order to assure the target output can be achieved. As can be seen in the graph, the dropout voltage of the Prime SV’s regulator increases approximately linearly with the output current. For light loads where the dropout voltage is small, the board can operate down to 5 V. However, for larger loads, the dropout voltage should be taken into consideration when selecting a power supply; operating above 6 V will ensure the full output current is available.

Note: Batteries can have much higher voltages than their nominal voltages when fully charged, so be careful with nominal voltages above 24 V. A 36V battery is not appropriate for this product.

Arduino compatibility

The A-Star 32U4 Prime ships with a preloaded Arduino-compatible bootloader (which uses 4 KB of flash memory, leaving 28 KB available for the user program). We provide a software add-on that enables the board to be easily programmed from the Arduino environment and an Arduino library to make it easy to use the additional onboard hardware.

The A-Star 32U4 has the same microcontroller and form factor as the Arduino Leonardo, and it runs at the same frequency, so we generally expect it to work with shields that are compatible with the Leonardo and similar boards. Note that the Prime has additional components and connection points, so you should make sure these do not physically interfere with any shield you are considering using. The following table shows how the Prime compares to the Leonardo and Uno:

Resources

Pinout

Shows Prime LV but the pinout is the same

Specifications

Processor: ATmega32U4 @ 16 MHz
RAM size: 2560 bytes
Program memory size: 32 Kbytes1
Motor channels: 0
User I/O lines: 26
Input voltage range: 5V to 36V (SV)
Minimum operating voltage: 5V
Maximum operating voltage: 36V
Maximum output current: 1.0 A
Logic voltage: 5 V
Reverse voltage protection?: Y
External programmer required?: N
Version: microSD support and preinstalled female headers

The A-Star family

The A-Star 32U4 Micro is a part of our larger A-Star family, all of whose members are based on AVR microcontrollers and are preloaded with Arduino-compatible bootloaders.

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