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10WaystoDestroyAnArduino
Introduction
Useasledgehammer,fireabulletatit,
throwitintoapool....thatsnotwhatwere
talkingabout.Weregoingtoshowyou
howtoelectricallydestroyyourArduino,
thoughmanyofyouseemtoalready
knowhowtodothatthroughunfortunate
experience.Youknowwhatwe
mean....thatfunnysmell,thescorchmark
onacomponent,orthedreaded
programmernotinsyncerrormessage
--allsignsthatyouvejustlearneda
lessonthehardway.

Whyarewedoingthis?Ifyouownan
Arduino,itsgoodtoknowwhatisand
whatisntOKtodowithit.Wealsowant
youtoconsiderbuyingourRuggeduino,
whichwillsurviveallofthetortures
describedbelow.

Method#1:ShortingI/O

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Method#1:ShortingI/O
PinstoGround
HOW
ConfigureanI/Opintobeanoutputthen
setithigh.Shortthepintoground.You
havenowcreatedanovercurrent
conditionontheI/Opinanditwillbe
destroyed.

WHY
Hereisthepathofcurrentflow(the
schematicisfortheArduinoUno,which
canbefoundhere):

Themicrocontrollerdatasheetspecifiesanabsolutemaximumper-pincurrentof40mA.
Withatypicalinternalresistanceofonly25ohmsperpin,adeadshorttogroundcan
allowasmuchas200mAofcurrenttoflow,morethanenoughtodestroythe
microcontrollerpin.

THEFIX
TheRuggeduinoprotectsagainstthisdestructionbyputtinga30mAresettablefuse

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(PTC)inserieswitheveryI/Opin.Notonlyisthecurrentsafelylimitedto30mAunderall
conditions(moreonthisbelow),butthebuilt-in220ohmresistanceofthefusenaturally
limitsthecurrentto5V/220=23mArightoffthebat.

Method#2:ShortingI/OPinstoEachOther
HOW
ConfiguretwoI/Opinstobeoutputsthensetonehighandtheotheronelow.Now
connectthepinstogether.YouhavenowcreatedanovercurrentconditiononbothI/O
pinsandtheywillbedestroyed.

WHY
ThepathofcurrentflowissimilartoMethod#1aboveexceptthegroundreturnpathis
throughthemicrocontroller.

THEFIX
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SameasforMethod#1,theRuggeduinoprotectsagainstthisdestructionbyputtinga
30mAresettablefuse(PTC)inserieswitheveryI/Opin.

Method#3:ApplyOvervoltagetoI/OPins
HOW
Applyavoltageexceeding5.5VtoanyI/Opin.TheI/Opinisdestroyed.

WHY
Thismethodofdestructionforward-biasestheESDprotectiondiodebuilt-intothe
microcontroller.HereisamodelofeachmicrocontrollerI/OpinfromtheAtmel
ATmega328Pdatasheet:

OncethevoltageattheI/Opinisgreaterthanthesupplyvoltage(5V)byabout0.5V,the
topdiodestartstoconductcurrent.ThisisOKfordivertingashort-durationovervoltage
event,likeESD(electro-staticdischarge),butthatdiodeisnotmeanttobeonallthe
time.Itwillsimplyburnoutandstopprotectingthepin.

ThisdiagramshowstheflowofcurrentwhenovervoltageisappliedtoanI/Opin.

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Iftheinternalprotectiondiodefailsopen,thentheovervoltagedestroystheI/Opin.If
theprotectiondiodefailsbyshortingout,itsevenworsebecausenowtheovervoltage
isappliedtotheentire+5VsupplyontheArduino.Thismeansitwillreachother
components,liketheUSBinterfacechip,anddestroythemtoo.

THEFIX
OntheRuggeduino,everyI/Opinisprotectedbya30mAresettablefuse(withbuilt-in
220ohmresistance)anda5.1Vzenerdiodethattogetherservetolimitthepinvoltage
to5.5V,regardlessofappliedovervoltage(upto24V).

Now,insteadofcurrentflowingthroughthemicrocontrollersinternalprotectiondiode,it
flowssafelythroughthezenerdiode,toground,andbacktothesourceofthe
overvoltage.ThePTCfuselimitsthiscurrentto30mAsothe5.1Vzenerdiodedoesnot
dissipateexcessivepower.

Method#4:ApplyExternalVinPowerBackwards
HOW
PoweryourArduinothroughtheVinconnectorpin,butreversethepolarityofthe
Vin/GNDpowerconnection.YouwilldestroyseveraldevicesontheArduino.

WHY
Thereisnoreverse-voltageprotectiononvoltagesappliedtotheVinconnectorpin.
CurrentwillflowfromtheGNDpinoftheATmega328Pbackupthroughthe5Vpin,
backthroughthe5VregulatorandtoVin.Thesamethingwillhappenwiththe

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ATmega16U2microcontroller.Bothmicrocontrollersandthe5Vregulatorwillbe
destroyed.

THEFIX
OntheRuggeduinotheVinpinisprotectedbya30Vreverse-blockingdiode,asshown
intheschematic.

Youcanapplyasmuchas30Vofreverse-polarityvoltageontheVinpinwithoutcausing
anydamage.

Method#5:Apply>5Vtothe5VConnectorPin
HOW

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HOW
Applyavoltageof6Vorhighertothe5Vconnectorpin.Manycomponentsonthe
Arduinowillbedestroyed,andthisvoltagecanalsoappearonyourcomputersUSB
port,possiblydamagingit.

WHY
Thereisnoprotectiononthe5Vconnectorpin.Thisvoltageisdirectlyconnectedtothe
ATmega328Pmicrocontroller,theATmega16U2USBinterfacemicrocontroller,andthe
5Vregulator,allofwhichcanbedamagedbyvoltagesexceeding6V,andtheresulting
currentsthatflow.HereisanexamplecurrentpaththroughtheATmega328P
microcontroller.

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ItisacommonmisconceptionthattheArduino5Vregulatorwillensurethatthe5V
voltageremainsat5V,nomatterwhat.ITWILLNOT!Theonlythingthe5Vregulatorcan
doiscontrolcurrentcomingfromtheUSBportortheexternalDCpowerjack.Ifthe
currentiscomingfromanexternalpowersourcedirectlyconnectedtothe5Vconnector
pin,theregulatorcandonothingaboutit.

Anotherconsequenceofapplyingmorethan5Vtothe5Vconnectorpinispossible
damagetothePCsUSBport.IftheArduinoispoweredfromUSBthenthisexcessive
voltagecancausecurrenttoflowbackwardsthroughthevoltage-switchingMOSFETT1
andbacktothePCsUSBport.

THEFIX
OntheRuggeduinoavoltagecutoffcircuitmakessurethatthe5Vconnectorpinis
disconnectedifitexceeds5.5V.

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Youcanapplyupto24Vonthe5VconnectorpinandtheRuggeduinocomponentswill
neverseeit,andnothingwillbedamaged.

Method#6:Apply>3.3Vtothe3.3VConnectorPin
HOW
Applyavoltageof3.6Vorhighertothe3.3Vconnectorpin.Any3.3Vshieldspluggedin,
orotherdevicespoweredfromthispin,willbedestroyed.Ifatleast9Visapplied,this
voltagecandestroytheArduino3.3VregulatorandalsofeedcurrentbackintothePCs
USBport.

WHY
The3.3Vconnectorpinhasnoprotectioncircuitry.Thisvoltageisdirectlyconnectedto
theArduino3.3Vregulatorandanyothershieldsordevicesthatarepoweredbythis
connectorpin.Ifthevoltageexceeds9V,the3.3Vregulatorwillbedestroyedandmay
allowcurrenttoflowbackwardstothe5Vnode,andthenbackwardsfurthertothePCs
USBport.Theexcessivevoltagewillalsodestroythetwodevicesconnectedtothe5V
node:theATmega328PandATmega16U2microcontrollers.

THEFIX
Similartothe5Vprotectioncircuit,theRuggeduinohasavoltagecutoffcircuitforthe
3.3Vconnectorpin.Anyvoltageappliedtothispingreaterthan3.6Vdisconnectsthepin

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fromtheRuggeduino3.3Vnode.

Method#7:ShortVintoGND
HOW
PowertheArduinofromtheDCpowerjackandshorttheVinconnectorpintoGND.The
ArduinoblockingdiodewillbedestroyedandtracesontheArduinoPCBmaymeltand
bedestroyed.

WHY
ThereisnocurrentlimitprotectionontheVinconnectorpin.AshortcircuitfromVinto
GNDeffectivelyshortcircuitstheDCpowerjackinput,andexceedsthecurrentratingof
theblockingdiode.

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TheamountofcurrentthatflowsislimitedonlybytheresistanceoftheArduinoPCB
tracesandthecurrentcapabilityofthepowersupply.Ifthisishighenough,thediodeD1
willbedestroyedandPCBtracesmaymeltduetotheheatcausedbythislargecurrent.

THEFIX
TheRuggeduinohasa500mAPTCresettablefuseinserieswiththeDCpowerinput
circuit(justliketheonethatprotectstheUSBpowerinput).Thisfuselimitsthecurrentto
safelevelsevenifVinisshortedtoGND.

Method#8:Apply5VExternalPowerwithVinLoad
HOW
Ifyouarepoweringtheboardfrom5Vappliedtothe5Vconnectorpinandyouhave
circuitryconnectedtotheVinpin(orhaveshortedVintoGND)thencurrentwillflow
backwardsthroughthe5Vregulatoranddestroyit.

WHY
Thereisnoreversevoltageprotectiononthe5Vregulatorthuscurrentcanflowfrom
the5Vconnectorpin,backwardsthroughtheregulator,andtowhateverisconnectedto
Vin.

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THEFIX
TheRuggeduinohasitsreverse-blockingdioderightatthe5Vregulatorinput,ensuring
thatnocurrentcanflowbackwardsthroughtheregulator,evenifacircuitisconnected
totheVinpin.

Method#9:Apply>13VtotheResetPin
HOW
Apply>13VtotheResetconnectorpin.TheATmega328Pmicrocontrollerwillbe
damaged.

WHY
TheResetconnectorpinisdirectlyconnectedtotheresetpinontheATmega328P.
Whilethispintolerates13V,highervoltageswilldamagethedevice.

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THEFIX
OntheRuggeduinoa1kresistorisplacedinserieswiththeATmega328Presetpin.If
voltagesgreaterthan13VareappliedtotheResetconnectorpin,thispinlimitsthe
currentthatcanflowthuslimitsthedamagetothispin.

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Method#10:ExceedTotalMicrocontrollerCurrent
HOW
Configureatleast10I/Opinstobehighanddraw20mAfromeachone(forexample,by
lighting10LEDs).Youhavenowexceededthetotalsupplycurrentratingforthe
microcontrolleranditwillbedamaged.

WHY
ItsnotenoughtolimitthecurrentofeachI/Opin--thetotalcurrentsourcedfromallI/O
pinsmustnotexceed200mA,accordingtotheATmega328Pdatasheet.

THEFIX
OntheRuggeduinoadedicatedcurrent-limitingIC(MIC2009Ashownbelow)ensures
thatnomatterwhatcurrentsyouaresourcingfromI/Opins,thetotalmicrocontroller
supplycurrentdoesnotexceed150mA(typical).

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Ifmorethan150mAofcurrentflowstotheATmega328P,theMIC2009Astartsreducingthe
voltageuntilthecurrentisreducedtoasafelevel.

Proudly
locatedin
Michigan,USA

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