Tag Archives: ATmega644PA

Build your own Pebble Smartwatch

Why buy the latest smartwatch when you can make one yourself with off-the-shelf components and breakout boards? 

Despite the ongoing craze for wearable technology, most notably smartwatches, a number of young Makers are finding that can sometimes be a bit out of their price range. Rather than having to tirelessly scalvage funds and spend their savings, tinkerers like Jonathan Cook are electing to create their own devices. The aptly named Open-Source SmartWatch combines readily available breakout boards, careful soldering and a 3D-printed frame to make a one-of-a-kind timepiece that displays notifications from your smartphone, not to mention is easily customizable in function and pleasing to the eye. Aside from already being crowned winner of last year’s Arduino Challenge and having garnered “Maker of Merit” ribbons at Maker Faires, Cook recently featured his DIY accessory on MAKE: Magazine.


As the Maker notes, the watch design is pretty straightforward, consisting of four major components housed in a 3D-printed case: a battery charging circuit, vibrating motor for silent alerts, a programmable Microduino Core+ (ATmega644PA/ATmega1284P) with power regulation and BLE connectivity, and an OLED display with push-buttons.


“Breadboarding the project is a snap. Wiring it into a small enclosure meant for the wrist is quite another matter. Break out your fine-point soldering iron and follow these complete instructions.” As for its programmable core, Cook connected the Microduino board to a programming port, a BLE chip for communicating with a wearer’s mobile device, and a voltage regulating circuit.


“A 3.7V 500mAh LiPo battery is wired to a JST connector and a two-position switch. Switched to the right, the circuit is in battery mode. Switched left, it’s ready for LiPo charging via the JST connector.”


Meanwhile, the Open-Souce SmartWatch’s vibrator circuit is comprised of a diode, 1K and 33Ω resistors, capacitor, NPN transistor, and motor. The circuit is then connected to the megaAVR based Microduino, which enables the device to buzz the wrist for an incoming call or alerts. Speaking of which, in addition to the typical time and date functionality as seen on any watch, Cook has sought out to develop an interface that any smartwatch wearer would want such as email access, Facebook notifications, Twitter updates, among a number of other features. Rounding out the design, the Maker implemented an OLED screen and a pair of tiny LEDs that are wired to seven of the digital pins on the ‘duino.


Those interested in learning more about the 3D-printed smartwatch can access a detailed step-by-step breakdown of the build here.

Microduino-Joypad is an open-source 8-bit game console

The crew over at Microduino Studio has just released a new gamepad in honor of the Nintendo Gameboy’s 25th anniversary.

If you recall, the company had launched the popular Microduino platform back in September 2013, where the small, stackable boards — powered by ATmega328P and ATmega644PA — had garnered over $134,000 in its initial Kickstarter campaign.


“We achieved success with the unique Upin27 interface, compact size, rich expansion boards as well as many applications. Over the past year, [the] Microduino community has been growing rapidly. Now, we have nearly 10,000 players worldwide,” a company rep writes.


Paying homage to the iconic device’s 25th birthday, the team has now debuted the Microduino-Joypad, an 8-bit multi-functional game console capable of playing all-time classics ranging from Tetris to Snake. The open source gadget will allow Makers to relive some of their greatest childhood memories of clicking away at those giant buttons on a vintage Nintendo handheld.


To capitalize on this growing group of creative individuals, Microduino introduced this open-source gaming platform to hopefully cultivate another community that will innovate and share their product and ideas.

“The best part is that players can develop their own games according to their preferences. In addition, we also specially establish a community web page for you, making it easy for you to communicate,” the team emphasizes.


Not only is the Microduino-Joypad a game console, the integrated UPin27 interface allows for 30 different Microduino modules to be attached to add to the device’s functionality. As the Joypad’s Kickstarter campaign describes, the machine is “a flexible, interesting device capable of DIY as well as unlimited expansion possibilities.”

The Joypad’s abilities range from being able to to control a quadcopter or play a few levels of the latest Angry Birds installment; as a result, the versatile device could truly carry out nearly any task you could dream up.


According to the team, Microduino now maps all types of single-chip computers to UPin27 — including those AVR powered — covering almost all the existing popular applications.

Microduino Studio is currently seeking further funding to secure their supply chain and certify that they will be able to manufacture a full run of devices in the coming months. For more information about the Microduino-Joypad or to back this technostalgic device, make your way over to their official Kickstarter page here.

DIY quadcopter adoption takes off with Arduino

Analysts at IDTechEx recently reported that the starting point for Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) is rarely military or law enforcement. Rather, it lies at the other extreme – with DIY hobbyists and Makers.

“As the sophisticated sensor systems in mobile phones migrate to hobbyists’ microcontroller boards, such as [Atmel-based] Arduino boards used in their homemade quadcopters, their uses rapidly widen,” an IDTechEx explained.

“Professional quadcopters will also profit from the fact that over one million Arduino boards have been sold in a very short time to quadcopter hobbyists and the designers of wearable technology and Internet of Things (IoT) nodes.”

According to the analyst, equivalent boards sold directly out of China are also getting useful volume headed towards billions each year for IoT, driving down quadcopter costs.

“The last six months has seen many new applications for pure-electric quadcopters. [For example], Amazon proposed delivery of mail by quadcopter, others will use them for aircraft inspection, even indoors and yet others have new agricultural uses,” the analyst continued.

“[Meanwhile], easyJet, one of UK’s largest airlines, works with the Bristol Robotics Laboratory to make variants that inspect its 220 airliners. These quadcopters will be programmed to scan and assess easyJet’s planes, reporting back to engineers on any damage which may require further inspection or maintenance work.”

Last, but certainly not least, the analyst noted that professional quadcopters cost many times the price of toy versions – so they may one day become the bigger market and certainly the most profitable and many will form part of the Internet of Things.

“Advanced military capabilities such as intelligent swarming of small electric craft will also migrate to the civilian sector,” the rep added.

LCD flight control board has AVR under the hood

The HobbyKing crew recently released the KK2.1, a multi-rotor LCD flight control board equipped with Atmel’s ATmega644PA microcontroller (MCU).

Essentially, a control board is used to stabilize multi-rotor aircraft (tricopters, quadcopters and hexcopters) during flight. To achieve this, the KK2.1 takes the signal from the 6050MPU gyro/acc (roll, pitch and yaw) and relays it to the ATmega644PA IC.

The AVR MCU processes the signals based on the selected firmware and passes control signals to the installed Electronic Speed Controllers (ESCs). These signals instruct the ESCs to make fine adjustments to the motor’s rotational speed, which in turn stabilizes the multi-rotor craft.

The KK2.1 also uses signals from the radio systems receiver (Rx), passing data to the ATmega644PA via the aileron, elevator, throttle and rudder inputs. Once this information has been processed, the IC sends varying signals to the ESCs, which in turn adjusts the rotational speed of each motor to induce controlled flight (up, down, backwards, forwards, left, right and yaw).

“KK2.1 is the evolution of the first generation KK flight control boards – engineered from the ground up to bring multi-rotor flight to everyone, not just the experts,” a HobbyKing rep explained.

“At the heart of the KK2.1 is an Atmel Mega644PA 8-bit AVR RISC-based microcontroller with 64k of memory. A host of multi-rotor craft types are pre-installed – simply select your craft type, check motor layout/propeller direction, calibrate your ESCs and radio and you’re ready to go.”

According to the HobbyKing rep, the original KK gyro system has been updated to the 6050 MPU InvenSense platform – making it one of the most stable KK boards ever designed and facilitating support for an auto-level function.

An additional header has been added for voltage detection, while a handy piezo buzzer is also included with the board for audio warning when activating and deactivating the board. On the software side, a 6-pin USBasp AVR programming interface helps smooth the way for painless updates.

The KK2.1 is available for $35 on HobbyKing’s official website here.