Yes you can. I'm using the $50 board but programming it with the Arduino software. To get the .hex file, you just write you program save and compile it , then press the upload to board button in the Arduino software. I'm using the mkII usb cable with avrstudio, so when I press upload to board, I get an error stating that no usb device found. But it then makes the .hex file you need to upload to you board via avrstudio.