This paper presents the details of a compact embedded-computing module designed to meet a variety of pedagogical objectives within mechatronics, controls, and robotics. Built around an ATmega32U4 microcontroller, the 1.8 × 4.0 centimeter module has flash memory for program and data storage, 25 general-purpose input/output lines, four timer/counters, 12 channels of 10-bit analog-to-digital conversion, and support for a variety of serial communications protocols, including USB. The unit adapts easily to a solderless breadboard for quick prototyping, and requires only an external 5-volt power source for operation. Furthermore, it can be programmed directly over a USB connection to a computer, thereby eliminating the need for a separate programming device. As a member of the AVR family of microcontrollers, the development tools for the processor are freely available for Windows, Mac, and Linux. When assembled in sufficient quantity, the part cost for each module is approaching $10US, making it a low-cost solution for a variety of tasks. To enable students and professors to explore both the module and the host of application principles, we have chosen to post the design files and documentation on a publicly-accessible wiki, leaving room for collaborative improvements and the sharing of technology with other educational institutions.

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