Tag Archives: ATmega328P MCU

Build your own GPS pet tracker with TinyDuino

If you’re a pet owner, then you know that there is no worse feeling than losing your beloved animal. If you’re a pet owner, then you also may find yourself wondering from time to time as to what they do all day. Fortunately, this DIY GPS collar will not only allow you track the whereabouts of your cat remotely, but can log its GPS coordinates as well. Meaning, you can download its location whenever you feel like doing a some pet-snooping.


Recently published on MAKE Magazine, Ken Burns shared his GPS cat-tracking collar, built around the ATmega328P based TinyDuino platform. The system is powered by a small, lightweight battery and equipped with a fairly “power-hungry” GPS and microSD card, each of which are enclosed inside an old Tic Tac container.

According to Burns, a small slot was cut into the case in order to allow the cat collar to slide through and the GPS module to sit on the back of a cat’s neck, optimizing antenna reception.


In terms of software, the Maker notes that he used an Arduino sketch running on the TinyDuino, which captured the raw data from the device and writes it to a text file on the microSD card.



“Pop out the microSD, put it in your computer, and you can open up the file in a program like Google Earth and see exactly where your cat was during the day, complete with timestamps.”

Do you have a furry friend at home who could benefit from this DIY collar? You can find the Maker’s step-by-step tutorial on MAKE here.

ATmega328P-based TinkerBots hit Wired’s Gadget Lab

TinkerBots is an Atmel-powered (ATmega328P MCU) building set that enables Makers and hobbyists of all ages to easily create an endless number of toy robots that can be brought to life without wiring, soldering or programming.


Indeed, TinkerBots’ specialized “Power Brain” and kinetic modules twist and snap together with other TinkerBots pieces – and even LEGO bricks – adding movement and interest to whatever sort of robot a Maker can imagine and build.

The centerpiece of the TinkerBots building set is a square, red “Power Brain” module (approximately 1.5”x1.5”x1.5”) that contains Atmel’s ATmega328P microcontroller. This module is tasked with providing wireless power and data transmission to kinetic modules such as motors, twisters, pivots and grabbers.

Kinematics launched its official TinkerBots Indiegogo campaign a few weeks ago, with the building set garnering coverage from a number of prominent publications, including Wired’s Gadget Lab.

“Once you snap together a contraption, you can program it in a few different ways. By pressing the ‘record’ button on the Powerbrain brick and twisting the robot’s motorized parts, it will remember those movements and replicate them when you hit the ‘play’ button. And if you want to step it up and write your own code, you can also program your robots via the Arduino IDE,” writes Wired’s Tim Moynihan.

“TinkerBots started out as an Indiegogo campaign, and it blew past its $100,000 goal in less than a week; its funding now is nearly double that amount, with about a month left to go in its campaign. You can preorder various kits now, and prices vary depending on the number and type of pieces in each set. For $160, you get a basic car-building set with the Powerbrain, motors, wheels, a twister joint and some other bricks. There’s an animal-themed set for $230, a grabber claw set for $400 and $500 gets you a fully loaded kit with bricks to build anything.”

Interested in learning more? You can check out the official Indiegogo TinkerBots page here.

Reactor Core is an AVR programmer

The Reactor Core – which recently surfaced on Kickstarter – is a hardware programming platform for Arduino boards and stand-alone AVR-based microcontrollers (MCUs). 

Designed by Frank Fox, the Reactor Core is powered by Atmel’s ATmega328P MCU and an FT232R for USB to serial communication.

“The Arduino IDE has a fantastic option of directly programming microcontrollers using ISP [and] we included a ATmega328P (equivalent to an Arduino Uno board) on the programmer,” Fox explained.

“This allows you to program compatible blank ATmega microcontrollers with the Arduino bootloader. Once the bootloader is installed, then they are ready for use with the Arduino software. You can then switch back to the USB/serial connection to upload your sketches.”

The Reactor Core also includes an integrated ZIF socket for a number of Atmel’s ATtiny chips.

“To make  programming easier, we built in a ZIF socket. You setup the Reactor Core as an ISP, place your ATtiny chip in the ZIF socket, select the type of chip in the Board option, upload the sketch and then remove to install into your circuit,” said Fox.

“With the ZIF we will have support for both the ATtiny84 and ATtiny85. Using the ISP header you can connect to other compatible microcontrollers.”

As Fox notes, Makers can use the platform to self-replicate the bootloader to a blank microcontroller, thereby creating a cloned MCU.

“We think of this process like the chain reaction in a nuclear power plant. Once the first reaction happens, additional reactions are triggered. You can have dozens of projects all powered by the microcontrollers you programmed yourself. The Reactor Core is a device to empower you to make more reactions happen,” he added.

“The Reactor Core is also a way to simplify your life. Instead of having an Arduino, a programmer shield and a USB to serial converter, you only need the Reactor Core for all of these processes. This way if your Arduino is tied up on a project, you can still prototype another.”

Interested in learning more? You can check out the Reactor Core’s official Kickstarter page here.