Tag Archives: ATxmega128A4U

LightBug is a solar-powered GPS tracker

LightBug takes the best features of a Bluetooth tag and combines them with the functionality of a full GPS/GPRS tracker.

While there are plenty of trackers available today, a vast majority of them rely on Bluetooth to detect the whereabouts of the device. However, once out of range, these trackers essentially serve very little purpose. That’s where LightBug is looking to come in handy.


No larger than a stick of gum, the LightBug is small enough to discreetly clip onto a keychain, bag, clothes, pets or anything else you don’t want to lose, and unlike others on the market, packs GPS capabilities. Meaning, in the event a Bluetooth connection is broken, you’ll still be able to pinpoint an object with an accuracy of 50cm. The gadget works by sending its location over any available mobile phone network via a roaming SIM. What’s more, the LightBug is solar powered, and can be charged through its microUSB port should it need a quick boost of juice.

Aside from everyday items, LightBug can also help parents keep tabs on wandering children or caregivers to monitor the elderly, particularly those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s. It can even be employed for fitness-related activities as it can be worn on your shoe and used to track your runs.

How it works is pretty simple. GPS satellites tell LightBug where it is. The GPRS network sends the location to the cloud, where the information is securely stored. This data is then relayed to LightBug’s accompanying app. The app allows you to manage push notifications, establish geofences, retrieve historical data, sound a buzzer and launch navigation.


Additionally, alerts can be setup for a wide range of things, such as proximity to your phone. Proximity alerts will detect if the unit is no longer nearby using Bluetooth and will trigger automatic position updates. Alternatively, you can draw areas on a map that are either “safe zones” or “danger zones” and receive notifications when boundaries are crossed. Other notification triggers include time of day, detection of a falls and speed.

“LightBug is like a Bluetooth proximity tag on steroids because it’s still useful when you’re not near it. Unlike other tags, it doesn’t rely on loads of people having the same app installed because it can determine and send its location on its own. Like Bluetooth Tags though, you can use the app to make the buzzer ring to help you find stuff, and also use your phone to home in on it, helping you find stuff quicker indoors,” the team writes.


Measuring just 45mm x 23.5mm x 11mm in size and weighing only 20g, the LightBug can be unnoticeably attached to anything from your bag to your drone. In terms of hardware, the device is equipped with an ATxmega128A4U MCU, an accelerometer for movement detection, a pair of solar panels and a microUSB port for charging, a LiPo battery, a piezo buzzer for alerts, an LED and an GSM/GPRS modem.

“Basically, LightBug integrates an old school mobile phone, solar panels, a solar charger, Bluetooth, a really, really good GPS and has amazing battery life,” its creators add.

Looking ahead, the team hopes to release a public API early next year, which will enable you to build apps around LightBug — whether that’s a location-based game for your pet or a scavenger hunt for you and your friends. Aside from that, they will be integrating the tracker with IFTTT.

Tired of losing things? Head over to its Kickstarter campaign, where LightBug is currently seeking $77,782. Delivery is expected to begin in January 2016.

Synthino XM is a 5-note polyphonic MIDI synthesizer

This MIDI synthesizer is ideal for any musician or Maker looking to create some grooves.

In collaboration with Alex Dyba of GetLoFi, Nootropic Design founder Michael Krumpus recently debuted the Synthino XM, a five-note polyphonic synthesizer packed with a four-track sequencer running on the versatile ATxmega128A4U MCUSuccessfully funded on Kickstarter where it garnered just over $17,000, the open-source device boasts a fun, aesthetically-pleasing interface with just enough buttons and knobs to let users change parameters on-the-fly.


The gadget is equipped with a 1/4” output jack that not only works with headphones, but serves as a line output for recording and a direct connection to any guitar amplifier. With its standard five-pin MIDI input jack, both musicians and hobbyists alike can easily plug-in any MIDI keyboard, sequencer or drum machine to control the Synthino XM. Arguably one of, if not, the most exciting features has to be its integration of MIDI over mini-USB, which enables any model device with MIDI or DAW software to immediately recognize Synthino XM as an available output. The synthesizer can be used standalone as well, with just a 9V battery and a pair of headphones.


Synthino XM has three modes: synthesizer, arpeggiator, and groovebox. Synthesizer mode permits users to play the Synthino XM with a MIDI controller connected to the MIDI jack or from their favorite DAW software over USB. The arpeggiator allows users to play predefined arpeggios or set their own arpeggio notes with MIDI. Meanwhile, groovebox mode is a bit more sophisticated with a “live” 16-step sequencer that lets musicians lay down four different tracks through a MIDI controller.


Visual indicators are in the form of four bright orange LEDs that can be found beneath each button. When powered on, a series of blinking LEDs prompt users to select a mode by pressing one of the buttons, numerically denoted by “1-3,” respectively. In certain modes, the pots have secondary functions labeled as “fn:” These functions are activated by simply hitting the “4” button, which if held down for three seconds can also reset the program and let users choose a new mode.

To round out its sleek design, all of the electronics are housed between a two laser-cut frosted acrylic layers. Other notable features include:

  • 5-note polyphony for superb playability
  • 12 waveforms, 4 drum samples
  • 12-bit audio at 25KHz output rate
  • 4 MIDI channels, each with separate waveform and ADSR envelope settings
  • Low pass filter with cutoff frequency and resonance controls
  • 2 independent low frequency oscillators (LFOs): pitch and filter
  • Selectable waveform for LFOs
  • 1V p-p audio output voltage with enough current to drive headphones
  • Arpeggiator mode, up to 16 notes
  • 4 arpeggiator patterns: up, down, up-down, random
  • 4 built-in arpeggiator chords or use MIDI to specify up to 16 notes
  • Arpeggiator pitch transposition control
  • Tempo control with MIDI clock input
  • 16-step live performance “groovebox” sequencer
  • Pitch fine-tuning adjustment
  • Programmable/upgradable over USB


The Synthino project was first conceived back in 2014. However at the time, it was limited by only five buttons and three pots with no way of playing notes, and like any other prototype, it wasn’t too visually appealing either. Beyond that, the aptly named Synthino ONE was built around an ATmega328 MCU. According to the Krumpus, the latest iteration of the instrument called for a faster processor with double the speed and four times the memory. And so, the ATxmega128A4U was chosen.