Tag Archives: ATmega32U MCU

Beehives are going open source

Want to make your own printable, smart beehive to track colony health, reverse colony collapse disorder and promote international bee recovery? Then check out this open source beehive project helmed by an international team of ecologists, beekeepers, Makers, engineers and open source advocates.

“We’ve designed two downloadable, printable beehives: the Colorado Top Bar and the Barcelona Warré. These hives aim to prioritize bee colony health, make beekeeping more accessible and will ultimately allow you to log and study the health of your colony,” an open source beehive rep explained in a recent Indiegogo post.

“Your contribution will help us develop sensors to enhance our hives, connecting them to the Internet to log data about what is causing the bees to disappear around the world. This data can be used to study colony health build hard evidence against the causes of the problem – and generate policy change [as well] informed solutions moving forward.”

At the heart of the open beehive initiative is the Atmel-powered (ATmega32U4 MCU) Smart Citizen Kit (SCK). The open source platform – developed by Fab Lab Barcelona – comprises three layers: a hardware device, a website and online API and a mobile app.

Essentially, the first layer is a piece of hardware comprising two printed-circuit boards: an interchangeable daughterboard or shield and a data-processing board.

“It carries sensors that measure air composition (CO and NO2), temperature, light intensity, sound levels and humidity,” the open source beehive rep said.

“Once it’s set up, the ambient board is able to stream data measured by the sensors over Wi-Fi using the FCC-certified, wireless module on the data-processing board. The online component of the Smart Citizen Kit is used for logging and visualizing the data measured by the hardware.”

Interested in learning more? You can read more about the open source beehive initiative on the project’s official page here.

TweakTown reviews Protostack’s ATmega32A dev kit

Protostack’s ATmega32A Development Kit is the first 40-pin AVR dev board from the company, with all other boards based on a 28-pin AVR design. The tricked-out kit was recently reviewed by TweakTown’s Charles Gantt, who described the board as a “winner” for both engineers and DIY Makers.

“The microcontroller (Atmel’s ATmega32A MCU) featured in this kit has ample program memory for even the most code-heavy DIY projects. With all of the extra prototyping space and stackability, only the sky is the limit to what you can put together with this board,” Gantt wrote in detailed TweakTown review.

“The extra I/O that you gain from the 40-pin chip will definitely come in handy in some of my upcoming projects as well. The fact that Protostack includes a power supply on this board is a major plus for me as I have yet to dive in and purchase a proper bench-top power supply.”

According to Gantt, the only drawback to the board is the lack of an on-board USB to UART, which can be solved by adding solder pads for a FTDI FT232RL USB -UART chip as well as pads and holes for the supporting circuitry.

“That said, I do fully understand why Protostack chose to leave these components out. The FTDI chip is only available in surface-mount packages, and for some customers that may be a tough soldering task,” he explained.

“Someone like me would have no issues soldering on one, and I feel that those who may feel that it is too tough of a task could continue to use the 10-pin ISP header as they normally would.”

Nevertheless, Gannt emphasized that he was quite pleased with the kit and plans to use it in an upcoming project that involves Halloween animatronics.

“Protostack has done an excellent job designing a development kit around the ATmega32U microcontroller, [going] above and beyond in extra features,” he concluded.

“With the kit retailing for just $22.85 there is no reason for any maker not to own at least one. The lack of on-board USB to UART conversion will set you back another $18 for a USBASP programmer, but I see that as an investment in which I will use over and over throughout the years.”