Getting up close and personal with Atmel’s tinyAVR

So Atmel’s tinyAVR tech has been in the news lately, popping up in the Agent smart watch which recently debuted on Kickstarter and the uber-cool ShuttAVR mod for cameras.

As previously reported on Bits & Pieces, the Agent smart watch combines the SAM4S and tinyAVR MCUs to provide extended battery life – consuming less than half the power of competing platforms. Essentially, the tinyAVR MCU handles maintenance tasks and events while the ARM-based SAM4S deals with the operating system and related apps. This combination optimizes power use and enables the larger SAM4S microcontroller to remain in sleep mode for as long as possible.

Meanwhile, “balthamos89” used the versatile AVR ATtiny25 to help build the ShuttAVR,  a device which allows cameras to snap pictures at precisely defined intervals.

“I happened to have some AVR ATtiny25′s lying around, so I popped open the IR remote for the camera and poked around a bit. Though, I poked around a bit too much and ended up with a broken IR remote,” he explained.

“Determined, I ripped out the old chip and soldered a new switch. I had to add in code for handling the IR signaling, but I ended up with a functioning remote. Not only that, but it had intervalometer capabilities as well.”

So let’s take a closer look at Atmel’s tinyAVR technology which resides under the hood of a growing number of cool devices these days.

First off, all tinyAVRs are based on the same architecture and compatible with other AVR devices. Features like integrated ADC, EEPROM memory and brownout detectors allow users to design applications without adding external components. tinyaAVR also offers up flash memory and on-chip debug for fast, secure, cost-effective in-circuit upgrades.

“The tinyAVR offers an advanced combination of miniaturization, processing power, analog performance and system-level integration,” an Atmel engineer explained. “Simply put, the tinyAVR is the most compact device in the AVR family and the only device capable of operating at just 0.7V. And there’s nothing really tiny about that. Plus, tinyAVR designs can be coupled with Atmel’s CryptoAuthentication tech for an extra level of security against hackers and cloners.”

It should also be noted that the smallest tinyAVR measures only 1.5mm x 1.4mm. This  means makers, modders and engineers can all employ the tinyAVR as a single chip solution in small systems – or use it to deliver glue logic and distributed intelligence in larger systems.

“The AVR CPU gives the tinyAVR devices the same high performance as our larger AVR devices,” the engineer continued. “Flexible and versatile, they feature high code efficiency that lets them fit a broad range of applications.”

As expected, tinyAVR offers a high level of integration, with each ping boasting multiple uses as I/O, ADC, and PWM. To be sure, even the reset pin can be reconfigured as an I/O pin. Oh, and yes, the tinyAVR also features a Universal Serial Interface (USI) which can be used as SPI, UART or TWI.

On the power side, where most microcontrollers require 1.8V or more to operate, the tinyAVR boosts the voltage from a single AA or AAA battery into a stable 3V supply to power an entire application.

So if you do use tinyAVR tech in your next maker, hacked, modded or industrial project, be sure to drop us a line and let us know! In the meantime, additional information about Atmel’s extensive tinyAVR lineup can be be found here.

2 thoughts on “Getting up close and personal with Atmel’s tinyAVR

  1. daitomodachi

    I find this kinda of amazing that more and more people are using AVRs for their commercial products. I was always under the assumption people like to use PIC microcontrollers.

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  2. Patrik Hermansson

    I did a really simple power control with a relay, an Attiny25 and Arduino bootloader a while back. It’s cool to run Arduino on a Tiny25, but you cant add many lines of code until you run out memory 🙂

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