MC HCK: a $5 ARM development board


There are plenty of ARM-powered development boards out there, so it’s sometimes hard to see what a new one can bring to the table. But the open hardware MC HCK (pronounced “McHack”) is meant for quickly building projects on a small budget. The motivation for the project is on being a small, cheap and versatile microcontroller platform that supports USB for easy programming, and can be built at home for $5. It is not a product designed to make money — the MC HCK is a quick hack toy from geeks, for geeks.

As per the quick spec, the board is based on a Freescale ARM Cortex-M4 microcontroller (which includes DSP, but no FPU) and can be plugged directly into a computer via USB. As a Direct Firmware Update (DFU) bootloader is present on the microcontroller, there is no need for external programming equipment. The board also has unpopulated footprints (as long as you are not afraid of soldering the odd component onto a board…) that allow users to add other functionality: for example, a Real Time Clock (RTC), a Lithium Polymer (LiPo) charger IC or a SPI flash IC for external storage. Or add a $2 2.4GHz RF module, and you have the first node of a sensor network.

The MC HCK is a community project that’s entirely open source, both hardware and software; check out the project repository to view the Bill of Materials and fabrication outputs.


“MC” is short for microcontroller, but it also makes it sound like a Scottish surname, and Scots are stereotypically cheap. We like cheap. And “HCK” stands for “hacking”, “hackers”, “hackspaces”, but shorter, smaller. Like the MC HCK board itself. And MC/HCK is a pun on TCP’s SYN/ACK, meaning “ready to go”, even a step ahead.

2 thoughts

    1. Those three boards cost 6x, 20x, and 5x, respectively, as much as a single mchck. the mchck is optimized for extremely low cost, so perhaps it’s a bit smaller and without all the other features, but the price is so low you can use them everywhere and not worry about it

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