I'm developing a project and I need to connect to my Arduino Mini with a SD card breakout board. The problem is that I can't plug it directly to the Arduino since it is already powering some sensors and a BITalino, and I was told that it would, for some reason, be better to connect an external battery to the SD board.

My question is if i can supply this MICROSD CARD BREAKOUT BOARD+ with a 3.7V battery, instead of a 5V.

Thank you!


  • Onboard 5V->3V regulator provides 150mA for power-hungry cards
  • 3V level shifting means you can use this with ease on either 3V or 5V systems
  • 1
    I don't see why you can't use the same power supply. Using a separate battery seems silly to me.
    – Gerben
    Apr 1, 2017 at 13:22
  • SD cards don't use much juice, you could probably run them of off GPIO pins pulled low/high
    – dandavis
    Apr 1, 2017 at 13:36

4 Answers 4


My question is if i can suply this MICROSD CARD BREAKOUT BOARD+ with a 3.7V battery, instead of a 5V.

Yes you can supply MICRO SD Card Breakout with 3.7 volt battery as it has onboard voltage regulator which will provide required voltage to the board.

I was told that it would, for some reason, be better to connect an external battery to the SD board.

Because every sensor will take 3V - 5V as per its requirement. So some time Arduino can not be able to provide 3.3 - 3.5 volt to SD Card board and there could be no data logging or some wrong data logging to SD card. Thus it is advised to do such.


Yes you can give power supply to MICROSD CARD BREAKOUT BOARD from a 3.7V battery It has Onboard LP98x Voltage regulator winch provide 3.3V regulated power supply.

Take reference from here Schematic of MICROSD CARD BREAKOUT BOARD


You just need to bypass the Pro Mini regulator in order to avoid loading it too much, because the uSD Card board already has one.

Instead of connecting the uSD Card breakout board to the VCC pin, connect it to the RAW pin. Provided that your power source (3.7V battery? wall adapter?) can source enough current for the Pro Mini plus the uSD card board (something that's very likely), everything will be fine. No need to add any extra power source.

The regulators in those boards have very similar dropout characteristics (300-400mV).


The "some reason [it would] be better to connect an external battery to the SD board" is that you need to make sure that the controller chip and SD card are getting enough power that it can write reliably.

To figure out whether and what kind of external power you need you start with the specifications. The first clue is in the general product description to which you linked; it says that it has an "Onboard 5v->3v regulator" that "provides 150mA for power-hungry cards." This is a good start, but you'll see below that we'll need further information from a link on the tutorial page.

Linear power regulators give a fixed voltage output (in this case, 3 V) from a higher voltage input. To work properly they need an input voltage a bit higher than their output voltage; the minimum difference between the two is called the dropout voltage. From the schematic we can see that the board is using an LP298x regulator. A datasheet for a (hopefully typical) part from that series indicates that dropout voltage is 300 mV or 0.3 V. 3.7 V is considerably higher than 3 V + 0.3 V, so you're very likely to be ok in that respect with your external battery. (We also note here that the input voltage can range up to 16 V; we'll use this information later.)

The other thing you need to look at is whether you can supply enough current to the board and card that, under all reasonable circumstances, they can function properly. From the original description you know the board uses a 150 mA regulator which means that the designers expect that you'd never need more than that. (And if you do, the card isn't going to get it anyway.)

For simplicity it's easiest just go go with being able to provide 150 mA or more on the regulator's input, regardless of voltage. (In theory you can supply less power on input if you're giving it a higher voltage, because P = EI, but it's not generally worth the time and effort to go there for a hobbyist project.)

Batteries have a discharge rates known as C rates, and unless you know what you're doing (I don't :-)) your best bet is to stay well within the standard discharge rate as specified by the manufacturer. Adafruit sells a typical 3.7v 1200mAh Lithium Ion Polymer Battery; looking at its datasheet we see that the standard discharge current is 0.5 C5 A, which is 0.5 * 1200 mAh / 1 h = 600 mA, plenty more than you need. So if you're using that battery you'd be safe. (I started out by looking at the 500 mAh battery which has a 0.2 C5 A = 100 mA standard discharge rate; my guess is that that's fine because the maximum discharge rate is 1 C5 A, but this has implications on battery capacity and the like so I'd ask someone first.)

But it would be nice to use your existing power supply for the card rather than use a separate battery, I'm sure. Your best bet for that is the suggestion from Enric Blanco: use an external power supply that can deliver enough current to both the Arduino Pro regulator and the SD Card breakout board regulator that they'll both be happy.

Sadly, Adafruit's Ardiuno Mini product page gives no indication of current requirements. However, a quick look at the v5 schematic we can see that it's using an LP2985AIM5-5.0 regulator and a web search turns up a product page for this that says it's rated at 150 mA.

Add the 150 mA for the Arduino Mini to the 150 mA for the SD card board and you can figure that any external power supply that is giving more than 300 mA at the minimum 7 V input voltage specified for the Arduino Mini should be just fine. The 7 V should also be ok for the SD card board regulator since, even if it's a slightly different model from our spec. sheet, it's unlikely to have a maximum voltage hugely below the 16 V for that part. But you could check the exact part your board is using if you're worried.

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