Tag Archives: Atmel | SMART SAM D21

pico-Platinchen is a pocket-sized, Arduino-compatible wearable board


This Arduino-sensor combination is perfect for your next wearable design.


Last year, Guido Burger had brought to our attention his impressive blueIOT. The open sensor platform was based on the ultra low-power combination of an ATmega328P MCU and a BLE module along with a single coin cell battery. Created in collaboration with the Fab-Lab Europe team, the board would on to be successfully implemented in a number of applications, ranging from DIY fitness trackers and smart socks to  magical Easter Egg hunts and hacked Nespresso machines — which you will actually be able to witness live at Maker Faire Bay Area.

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Well, hot on the heels of its predecessor’s success, Burger has returned with the latest innovation from his crew: the pico-Platinchen. The uber mini, Arduino-compatible board was designed with wearable devices in mind and comes loaded with a high-precision, absolute orientation sensor from Bosch Sensortec. The BNO055 is joined by an ATmega328P, and like its older sibling, is powered by a CR2032 coin cell battery.

“The basis for your projects comes pre-integrated but you can still can expand it with more LEDs, sensors (e.g. I2C/SPI) and displays,” Burger explains. “Also, pico-Platinchen is a perfect basis for students and kids to start exploring the physical world: g-forces, magnetics, movements and much more!”

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With a diameter of only 20mm, pico-Platinchen is ideal for projects that involve sewing, particularly hats. What’s more, the platform packs the punch of an Arduino Uno along with the flexibility of an entire 9-DOF sensor. And, to provide on-board notifications and color-fading, the Fab-Lab team decided to add some NeoPixels (WS2812 LEDs) that can drive up to 256 lights with the pico-Platinchen right out of the box.

“By the way, it comes with a lot horse power,” Burger adds. “The motion co-processor for 3D maths is an Atmel | SMART SAM D21. [The] gyro, accelerometer and magnetometer are [all] combined with high-precision and 100Hz update for an absolute orientation in 3D space.”

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Using the Arduino IDE 1.0.7, Makers can build their own application with just a few lines of code in a matter of minutes. Aside from wearable projects, pico-Plantichen makes for a viable option in a variety of settings, whether that’s robotics, aviation or even in education (particularly physics). What’s more, the board can be coated for underwater projects.

Intrigued? The pico-Platichen is now available on Tindie for $32. Meanwhile, if you’re wondering what to make with the super small, wearable board, you can check out one of its recent projects on Hackster.io here.

Tessel 2 is a $35 development platform for the IoT


Tessel 2 is an affordable, accessible and robust dev platform that lets Makers build connected hardware devices.


Technical Machine recently announced their latest Wi-Fi dev platform for the burgeoning Internet of Things (IoT). The Tessel 2 packs a number of new features as its predecessor, including extremely reliable Wi-Fi, an Ethernet jack, a pair of USB ports, and a system that runs real Node.js/io.js. Beyond that, the team has added support to enable Makers to scale and streamline production.

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“The Tessel platform was created to abstract away the initial hurdles of hardware development. Tessel opens up connected device development to people who want to build embedded devices, but don’t have the time to start with Ohm’s law and work their way up. Tessel 2 takes the promise of Tessel 1, adds features and a path to production, and cuts the cost in half,” the crew writes.

The original Tessel was designed to be an extremely expedited way to devise prototypes through high-level languages, plug-and-play extensibility and the use of a great package manager for installation. However, no matter how quickly you got started, it was a bit difficult to ever go beyond just a single mockup. Subsequently, its creators sought out the most reliable Wi-Fi chips on the market, before finally finding a solution in wireless router systems-on-chips.

The new dev platform employs a processor/coprocessor architecture, combining an Atmel | SMART SAM D21 Cortex M0+ MCU to control I/O and a Mediatek MT7260n Wi-Fi router SoC to run user code, host USB devices and handle the network connections. The two chips are connected by a SPI bridge that includes the on-board Flash. Other notable features entail 64 MB of DDR2 RAM, 32 MB of Flash storage, two high-speed USB 2.0 ports, a microUSB port, an Ethernet port, two module ports, a button, a bunch of LEDs, and of course, it is still programmable with JavaScript.

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The SAM D21 acts as a coprocessor and handles real-time, low-level I/O through the module ports, USB communications, as well as programming the device altogether. Meanwhile, the entire system is powered by the single microUSB device port.

Tessel 2 is equipped with router-grade 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, 16 GPIO broken out as a pair of multi-purpose module ports, individual control over and protection for all outward-facing power buses (USB and module ports), and a form factor designed for abstraction and flexibility in the hardware, software, and mechanical worlds as you scale from prototype to production. Beyond that, Tesel 2 runs 20 times faster than its older sibling, offers full Node and io.js, and supports Rust and Python along with other languages in the near future.

“The board’s bill of materials and physical characteristics are only part of the picture. We spent a long time thinking about how we wanted to architect Tessel to push it beyond ‘another dev board’ and clear into ‘this platform is exactly what I needed’ territory,” Eric Kolker explains.

Still, the latest iteration of the board includes an expansive plug-and-play ecosystem, ranging from an accelerometer and infrared to BLE and distance modules.

“Tessel 2 supports USB modules, so a USB webcam, USB speakers, and a few other modules will move into this sphere. This will allow us to reduce the cost of these modules and get you a higher-quality experience. USB compatibility also lets us easily support new third-party plug-and-play hardware capabilities in a similar capacity to current Tessel modules,” Kelsey Breseman adds.

Tessel 2 is currently available for pre-order with an estimated delivery set for November 2015. Want to delve deeper? You can head over to its official page here.

NOTE: Since publishing this blog post, Tessel has gone open source. Ownership and direction of the project now belongs to a steering committee which exists independently of Technical Machine. This group exists as part of the Dojo Foundation.

Atmel to showcase smart and securely connected solutions at Embedded World 2015


Demonstrations to showcase Atmel | SMART and Atmel AVR MCUs and MPUs highlighted in a variety of technology zones.


In a matter of days, Atmel will be showcasing a number of smart and securely connected solutions that will power next-generation Internet of Things (IoT) applications at Embedded World 2015 held in Nuremberg, Germany, February 24-27. These demos will be available in the company’s booth located in Hall 4A / Booth 4-230.

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To better illustrate Atmel’s broad portfolio of IoT solutions, the demonstrations will be highlighted in several technology zones.

AUTOMOTIVE: As a leader in local interconnect networking (LIN) and automotive touch, Atmel is enabling smart, connected vehicles.

Atmel’s automotive technology pod will showcase the company’s broad automotive product portfolio for car access systems, networking, drivers, Ethernet Audio/Video Bridging (AVB), and the future of human machine interface (HMI) in next-generation center consoles. By popular demand, Atmel will also be showcasing its next-generation AvantCar concept demo, a host of passive entry car access solutions using Atmel’s latest and highly secure products, including AES encryption 125kHz LF and and RF technologies, along with its popular maXTouch and QTouch capacitive touch solutions. The Atmel | SMART SAM V71 ARM Cortex-M7-based MCU will also be highlighted in an automotive application to deliver the world’s highest performance Cortex-M-based Flash MCU, along with an automotive touch application powered by Atmel’s recently launched Touch Controller solution. And, a demonstration running Audioweaver from DSPConcepts showcasing the SAM V71 ARM Cortex-M7 processor-based MCU will also be exhibited in this zone.

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INDUSTRIAL: Atmel provides leading-edge MCU- and MPU-based solutions for the smart, industrial market.

In the industrial technology pod, Atmel will showcase a variety of smart, secure and connected solutions for the industrial market powered by Atmel | SMART solutions including an Ultra home automation and smart fridge application running on the SAMA5D4 Xplained, and Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex-A5 processor-based boards displaying HDMI video. Other industrial applications on display include a power supply temperature monitoring and cooling using an Atmel temperature sensor and an treadmill application featuring an Atmel | SMART SAMA5D4.

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SMART LIVING: As a leading provider of smart and securely connected solutions, this technology zone showcases next-generation applications of modern living.

Highlighting the latest innovations for your living room, the Smart Living technology zone will highlight a number of applications ranging from a low-power Bluetooth beacon to a digital temperature sensor, a ZigBee-based smart lighting with cryptographic security (ATSHA204), and a secure IoT camera system featuring Atmel’s newly announced elliptic curve network security chip, the ATECC508A. See Atmel’s recently launched SIGFOX IoT solution, powered by Atmel’s ATA8520, communicating to the cloud while transmitting metering values, alarm signals and more. The company will also be showcasing the Atmel SmartConnect family, leveraging ultra-low power secure, wireless connectivity. A number of applications will be demoed including a weight scale, door bell with camera, Wi-Fi connected speaker, motion sensors on the window, smart plug, light bulb and gateway connected via ZigBee technologies—all controllable through a smart, mobile device. A QTouch-based water level sensing application showcasing advanced HMI and sensing capability will also be exhibited, along with a display demonstrating the world’s lowest power capacitive touch surface. Other demonstrations powered by Atmel’s maXTouch technologies and Atmel AVR MCU solutions showcasing ultra-low power smart, connected devices will be available in this zone.

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CLOUD PARTNERS: Highlighting cloud platform partner solutions.

IoT requires a system-level solution encompassing the whole system, from the smallest edge/sensing node devices to the cloud. The company has partnered with best-in-class cloud partners that can support a variety of applications for both Tier-1 OEMs and smaller companies. Atmel has integrated the partners’ technology into the company’s cloud solutions framework adding the cloud platform functionality seamlessly to all of Atmel’s wireless MCU offerings, regardless of standards or transport technology. Come meet some of the cloud platform partner solutions from companies like PubNub, Proximetry and Arrayent that are available on Atmel wireless MCUs today.

POWERED BY ATMEL. Showcasing the latest gadgets and devices powered by Atmel technologies.

Highlighting the latest smartphones, tablets and wearables available today, everything from a wireless drive and narrative life logging camera to record your every step, to fitness bands, to Atmel’s latest MCU and touch technologies, will be on display. See ‘wear’ the market is headed next!

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MAKERS: From Maker space to market place, this technology pod highlights Atmel enabling unlimited possibilities.

The Maker space showcases the well-received Arduino Wi-Fi Shield which enables rapid prototyping of Internet of Things (IoT) applications on the Arduino platform, and will be featured to highlight its simplicity for the professional and Maker communities. The company will also display a number of Maker demonstrations including a remote-controlled Maker Robot powered by the Atmel | SMART SAM D21 will be displayed. “Mr. Abot” is controlled through an Android app and the communications driven through Atmel’s recently announced WINC1500 Wi-Fi solution.

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Additionally, Atmel’s resident security expert Kerry Maletsky will be presenting “Making IoT a Reality – Leveraging Hardware Security Devices” on February 25 from 12-12:30 pm CET (Session 09/I).

And for those of you waiting to see the one-and-only AVR Man, you’re in luck. The embedded community’s favorite superhero will be in attendance!

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FemtoUSB is an open-source Cortex-M0+ board


The latest board from Femtoduino is designed to help those looking to migrate from AVR to ARM-based designs.


You may recall Femtoduino from their recent campaign around the highly-popular IMUduino BTLE. Now, the crew is back with their latest device, an uber-mini Cortex-M0+ MCU that they call FemtoUSB. The board was designed as a basic starting point for those interested in ARM-based projects, particularly for those transitioning from 8-bit AVR.

“Before the release of the FemtoUSB, learning to design for ARM chips was very difficult,” the team writes. “Compiling a toolchain? What does the most basic schematic for an ARM chip even look like? What in the world is JTAG?”

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Recently launched on Tindie, FemtoUSB is built around an Atmel | SMART ATSAMD21E18A, featuring 256KB of Flash and up to a 48MHz operating frequency. Its creators note that its schematic follows the suggested design found in the SAM D21 data sheet. The device features 3.3V on-board regulator (VIN line), a supply up to 10V, and a regulated down to 3.3V on the 3V3 line. The FemtoUSB comes with a standard 0.1″ (2.54mm) pin spacing design for breadboards, and a smaller 0.05″ (1.27mm) pin spacing design for tinier projects.

“Atmel has some of the best support for the open-source hardware community. They offer proper documentation, excellent chip performance, and a great foundation via the Atmel Software Framework,” Alex Albino, Femtoduino Senior Engineer, explains. “Did we mention how easy it is to get started with ARM using Atmel?”

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Migrating from 8- to 32-bit is much easier today than it was in years prior. As the Femtoduino team points out, most microcontrollers have a similar set of requirements, which range from adding some resistors and a reset circuit to hooking up a USB port and burning a bootloader.

“You can of course, add in a reverse current protection circuit, a crystal clock source for chips that don’t have an internal one (or if you want a faster clock source), some fancy peripheral additions, etc. However, here’s where we will draw an imaginary line, and now distinguish between 8-bit AVRs and 16/32-bit ARM chips.”

When working with ARM chips, Albino advises that you will need a programmer dongle to initially burn a bootloader. Serial Wire Debug seems to be the most basic form of the JTAG interface — something provided by all ARM chips. This is akin to the “Ardiuno ISP” mode of programming. Keep in mind, though, not all chips “talk the same” between the chip and a dongle.

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“It’s kind of like how two people can have the same interface (vocal chords), but speak different languages. Fortunately, it seems Atmel’s SAM D21 chips talk Cortex Microcontroller Software Interface Standard (CMSIS), which is a vendor-independent hardware abstraction layer for the Cortex-M processor series. This is another great reason to use Atmel’s line of ARM chips, for what it’s worth.”

The pins used to provide a JTAG connection vary depending on the ARM chip selected, and offer more debugging features when more pins are added. For the most part, JTAG Serial Wire Debug establishes the five necessary connections: Ground, Voltage Reference, Reset, Serial Wire Clock (SWCLK), and Serial Wire Debug Input/Output (SWDIO).

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Albino shares that your programming dongle should have a datasheet informing you of the pinout provided, which will enable you to wire it to your board accordingly. Another key difference — and a very important one for that matter — is the voltage. You may be used to 5V logic levels working with AVR 8-bit chips, but 5V can be utterly destructive to an ARM chip as they are meant to work with less power. The usual voltage range for Atmel’s line of ARM chips is somewhere between 1.8V to 3.3V.

“As with all ARM chips, you will benefit greatly from having a programmer dongle. Some vendors lock their chips behind really expensive software tools, and even more expensive programmer dongles ($200+). Oh, and have fun trying to get their proprietary stuff working with your open source setup. Thankfully, Atmel offers their ATMEL-ICE programmer at a reasonable price of about $85. I hear you can get them much cheaper without the case, though don’t expect it to come with ribbon cables if you go the cheap route.”

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Bringing the FemtoUSB to life required the following components:

Additionally, the project calls for some low-temp lead-free solder paste, a couple PCBs and SMD components. On the software side, the team suggests using Atmel Studio with Windows or Terry Guo’s GNU ARM Embedded Toolchain for those running Mac OS X or Linux.

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Regardless the operating machine, Albino stresses that Atmel Software Framework and Atmel SAM-BA In-System Programmer are required. The board also comes pre-loaded with the AT07175: SAM-BA Bootloader for SAM D21, “which is what actually gets programmed on to the chip so we can load stuff via USB instead, thanks to the open-source BOSSA utility.” (Hence, the name FemtoUSB.)

Femtoduino does reveal that they are working on getting an Arduino integration working, along with other non-Arduino tools to load things via USB. Interested? Femtoduino is now available on Tindie for $24.99. Those wishing to learn more can also head over to the project’s Github page here.

Zymbit wants to get your IoT ideas to market in days, not months

As the next frontier of the Internet, the IoT represents a compelling opportunity across a staggering array of applications. That’s why the team behind Zymbit has developed a platform of open hardware and software devices to enable Makers, engineers and developers alike transform their IoT ideas into real-world products in a matter of days, not months. In an effort to deliver secure, open and interactive devices for our constantly-connected era, Zymbit is hoping that its pair of solutions — the Y and Z Series — will help accelerate adoption.

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The company, who will be exhibiting inside our CES booth next month, has recently unveiled two devices each designed to interface with our physical world in a more secure, authenticated manner. Zymbit seeks to provide users with local and remote live data interaction, along with a low-power MCU, battery-backed operation.

“Y-series motherboards incorporate some of the latest secure silicon from Atmel, providing accelerated processing of standard open security algorithms. A separate supervisor MPU takes care of security, while you take care of your application,” a company rep writes.

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Based on the Atmel | SMART SAM D21, the Y Series motherboard is electrically robust with enhanced security provided via the ATECC108 crypto engine and ATWINC1500 Wi-Fi controller. Ideal for those developing next-gen IoT applications, the board is easily customizable and compatible with Atmel Xplained Pro wingboards, Arduino shields, Raspberry Pi B+, as well as ZigBee, cellular and POE module options.

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Meanwhile, the Z-series not only boasts several standard expansion and mounting options, but allows 3D-printable parts to easily be integrated for ultimate personalization.

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Each Zymbit device features a dedicated hardware crypto engine to ensure that only trusted data is exchanged between devices. Security processes run within a supervisory ATSAMD21J18A, separately from its ARM Cortex-M0+ application MCU.

The unique Zymbit architecture delivers three key security components:

  • Authenticated data source with 72-bit ID Serial Number
  • Secure data transmission with SHA 256
  • Private data transmission with Wi-Fi embedded AES engine

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The Z-series packs several addition security features, including private data transmission with AES engine 124/192/256, secure data transmission with SHA 1/2/3, public key acceleration, black key management and high assurance boot.

Wait… there’s more! In the forthcoming weeks, the team plans on revealing an innovative (and extremely cool) way for devices, users and data to interact through visually, audibly and of course, by touch. See it for yourself next month at CES!

Interested in learning more? You can stay up-to-date with the Zymbit team’s progress here.

Introducing the SmartConnect SAM W25 module for edge nodes IoT applications

Now on display at Electronica 2014, the SmartConnect SAM W25 module is the industry’s first fully-integrated FCC-certified Wi-Fi module with a standalone MCU and hardware security from a single source. The module includes Atmel’s recently-announced 2.4GHz IEEE 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi WINC1500, along with an Atmel | SMART SAM D21 ARM Cortex M0+-based MCU and Atmel’s ATECC108A optimized CryptoAuthentication engine with ultra-secure hardware-based key storage for secure connectivity.

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With nearly 5 billion connected devices expected next year with another 25 billion predicted by 2020, designers are now demanding more flexible, cost-optimized modules that provide a complete end-point solution from a single vendor. The fully-integrated SAM W25 delivers a secure ‘plug and play’ solution integrating wireless technologies with the design flexibility required for these IoT developers.

The billions of devices in edge nodes IoT applications will be powered by an embedded processing unit such as an MCU, and connected through a secure wireless signal. As more embedded developers start designing IoT apps for smart, secure connected devices, the need for solutions that integrate an MCU, hardware security and pre-certified wireless connectivity solution into one box will become a critical piece of the IoT puzzle; thereby, designers will no longer need wireless or encryption expertise to create an IoT gadget or gizmo.

Atmel’s FCC-, Telec-, IC- and CE-certified SAM W25 is a standalone solution that gives designers an all-in-one platform with a low-power MCU, hardware security and FCC-certified wireless connectivity from a single source. The small packaged module is cost optimized to lower the overall bill of materials for battery-operated applications ranging from remotes to home automation devices and beyond.

“IoT will impact nearly everyone’s lives ranging from their garage to their lighting systems, door locks, thermostats, fitness monitors, medical devices and more,” said Kaivan Karimi, Atmel Vice President and GM of Wireless MCUs. “Every one of these IoT devices will require an integrated edge node solution that delivers an MCU and secure wireless connectivity. Atmel’s SAM W25 delivers just that—a fully integrated secure wireless MCU module with over-the-air upgrade functionality that simplifies the complexities of wireless and security, and gives our customers time-to-market advantage. Atmel is committed to making it easier for IoT designers to bring their latest products to market with fully integrated modules that are ‘out-of-the-box’ ready to use, so developers can focus on developing features that will enhance the consumer experience.”

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Key features of the Atmel SmartConnect SAM W25 include

• Turnkey system with integrated software that includes TLS 1.0 and a TCP/IP stack WPA2 personal and enterprise security
• FCC-certified 2.4GHz IEEE 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi WINC1500
• Atmel | SMART ARM Cortex M0+-based SAM D21; 256KB Flash; 32KB SRAM
• Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI)
• Over-the-air updates
• ATECC108A CryptoAuthentication engine with ultra-secure hardware-based key storage for secure connectivity

Though the Atmel SAM W25 module won’t be available until December 2014, Electronica attendees can now get a firsthand sneak peek at the ‘plug and play’ solution. To help accelerate design development, Atmel offers a SAM W25 integrated module on an Xplained starter kit platform which will be available next month as well.