Writing for the EE Times, Jeremy Cook penned an article earlier this week about Atmel’s versatile ATtiny, a microcontroller (MCU) routinely used by both DIY Makers and professional engineers to power a wide range of projects.
“What if you want to shrink your project down to something that could rest on your fingertip? Appropriately named, the ATtiny chip fits the bill,” writes Cook. “Smaller than a quarter and costing around $3 when not purchased in bulk, this little guy has a lot going for it.”
Indeed, quite a number of projects and platforms built around Atmel’s ATtiny have surfaced on Bits & Pieces in recent months, including:
* 2D-Lux smart LED disk (SLEDD) – NliteN’s 2D-Lux Smart LED Disk (SLEDD) is a dimmable 60W-incandescent-replacement LED smart “bulb” equipped with an Atmel AVR microcontroller (ATtiny85), USB interface and hardware-expansion pins.
* Digital tic-tac-toe – Powered by the ATtiny85, this modern implementation of the classic game boasts an AI mechanism capable of making defending or winning moves against a human opponent.
* Long-term LED blinker – ATtiny10 runs an LED blinker for at least 6 months.
* Adafruit’s Gemma & Trinket – Uber-mini microcontroller boards built around the ATtiny85.
* Pressure sensitive floor – This ActiveFloor comprises a total of twenty-one 2′x4′ tiles, each one including 8 pressure-sensitive resistors and an ATtiny84-based platform.
* Chiptunes player – A tiny chip tunes player built around Atmel’s Attiny9.
* Duo Mini computer – A DIY computer powered by the ATtiny84.
* Nixie clock – This slick retro Nixie Clock is equipped with an ATtiny1634 MCU.
As previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, 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. The tinyAVR is also equipped with 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.”
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 engineering rep 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 pin 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 check out our recently launched AVR Hero Contest! In the meantime, additional information about Atmel’s extensive tinyAVR lineup can be be found here.
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Wow, I just stumbled onto this. Cool to be mentioned on Atmel’s blog!
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