Tag Archives: AVR Freaks

A sneak peek into Maker Week


And so, the road to Maker Faire begins! Here’s a closer look at what you can expect from Atmel all week. 


Maker Faire season is officially underway and we’re just days out from the 10th annual flagship event here in the Bay Area. In 2014, we saw more than 1,100 Makers and 130,000 attendees pack the San Mateo Event Center for two days of innovation, with countless visitors flocking our booth and congregating around other Atmel-driven projects. And rightfully so, as we continue to remain at the heart of the Maker community, powering everything from highly-popular Arduino boards to 3D printers to open-source robots.

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Testament to that, we have plenty of demos, discussions and more planned for the days leading up to and during Maker Faire Bay Area. Here’s a rundown of who and what you can expect to see in the coming week!

MakerCon, Tuesday May 12-13th, Palace of Fine Arts

MakerCon is a conference by and for the leaders of the Maker Movement. This event examines the impact of DIY culture on local and global manufacturing, design, workforce development and education, as well as provides valuable, practical insights around its role in the science, business and technology fields.

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With the emergence of easy-to-use boards like Arduino, a growing number of Makers are producing systems faster than ever before, dramatically reducing costs and headaches often associated with starting a product. However, once a DIYer is ready to promote their projects for funding or potential commercialization, how can they generate the awareness and attention required for success? In response to that common conundrum, Sander Arts will explore how to take a project from a mere idea to mass market as part of the conference’s Marketplace breakout session on Wednesday, May 13th at 3:30pm PT. In his presentation, Atmel’s VP of Marketing will address how entrepreneurs can go from ‘Makerspace to Marketplace,’ turning their Maker-board prototype into a viable business through digital marketing platforms.

AVR Freaks Meetup, Thursday, May 14, San Mateo Marriott

What do Arduino, MakerBot, 3D Robotics, Sphero and other major names throughout the Maker Movement all have in common? They began with on an AVR microcontroller. After all, it’s no wonder everyone from hobbyists to aspiring entrepreneurs have turned to the versatile family of 8- and 32-bit MCUs to bring their creations to life. Paying homage to its legacy within the DIY community, Atmel is bringing together these likeminded tinkerers, Makers, and most importantly, AVR fans for an inaugural pre-Maker Faire AVR Freak Meetup. Participants will have the opportunity to hop aboard the Tech on Tour big rig and get their hands on the latest and greatest projects from avid AVR users, enthusiasts and loyalists, in addition to mingle with Atmel’s own esteemed panel of experts, snap a selfie with AVR Man and pick up some swag. Oh, and in case that wasn’t enough, AVR Freak at heart Massimo Banzi will be in attendance, too.

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Beyond that, attendees will also have the opportunity to sign up for a Lunch n’ Learn training session, which will guide participants into becoming an “Atmel MCU Designer in One Hour” at 11am PT. Seats are limited, and yes, registration is required!

FRIDAY@MakerFaire, Friday, May 15, San Mateo Event Center

New to the program this year is exclusive, early access to show (and tell) from 1pm to 7pm PT. FRIDAY@MakerFaire is designed specifically for supporters and advocates of the Maker Movement to get focused time with Makers ahead of the DIY craziness that is Maker Faire Saturday and Sunday. This is a ticketed event for attendees interested in taking advantage of the preview opportunity. 

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Maker Faire, Saturday and Sunday, May 16-17, San Mateo Event Center

Maker Faire is a gathering of fascinating, curious people who enjoy learning and sharing what they can do. It’s a venue for Makers to exhibit examples of their work and interact with others about it, while in a dynamic setting. Now in its 10th year, this flagship event will be home to thousands of projects, a number of which driven by an Atmel MCU. During the two-day show, visitors will be able to get a firsthand look at some of the Makers who’ve successfully taken their idea from the ‘Makerspace to Marketplace’ inside the Atmel booth (#2223), including:

Arduino

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Probably doesn’t warrant much of an introduction. It’s Arduino, come on! This open-source electronics platform is smack dab in the middle of the Maker Movement.

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The question is, what can’t this 14-year-old innovator do? Aside from changing the world one board at a time, CEO Quin Etnyre has already taught classes at MIT, received multitudinous awards, partook in White House Maker Faire, and recently launched a successful Kickstarter campaign for the Qduino Mini.

Zymbit

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The Internet of Things represents a compelling opportunity across a staggering array of applications, and as more devices become connected, development time will play an increasingly integral role. Fortunately, Zymbit provides a unique, pre-packaged hardware and software IoT solution that not only allows Makers to customize, add and modify their projects, but bring those gizmos and gadgets to market in days, not months.

DrumPants

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Ever catch yourself drumming on your pant leg? Your table? Your desk? Your steering wheel? Well good news, starting a one-man band is now as simple as wearing DrumPants. Dubbed by its creators Tyler Freeman and Lei Yu as “the world’s industrial quality wearable musical instrument,” the kit magically transforms your outfit into a full ensemble with over 100 high-quality sounds and 300 music apps.

littleBits

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Like the LEGO and Tinkertoys of the tech-savvy generation, littleBits is open-source library of electronic modules that snap together with magnets, enabling Makers to learn electronics via prototypes. The library currently has over 60 modules, ranging from Arduino to MP3 to cloud bits. The best part? Each interchangeable board works with one another to spark up millions of possible combinations.

1Sheeld

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1Sheeld is a configurable shield for Arduino boards that lets users replace their other shields by using smartphone features, such as its display, gyroscope, accelerometer, magnetometer, GSM, Wi-Fi and GPS. The system is comprised of two parts: a shield that physically connects to an Arduino and acts as a wireless middleman, transmitting data between the board and any Android smartphone via Bluetooth, and an Android app that manages the communication between the shield and the mobile device.

Zippy Robotics

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Zippy Robotics enables users to construct circuit boards, arts and crafts, mechanical parts and other working prototypes righ from their desk through a computer-controlled carving machine called Prometheus.

Wait… There’s More!

On Saturday at 3pm PT, Atmel’s resident Wi-Fi expert Pierre Roux will join representatives from ARM, littleBits and MAKE to delve deeper into the “Connectivity, Creativity and Challenges” of the Internet of Things. Shortly after, the one and only Wizard of Make Bob Martin will conduct an on-stage demonstration on how to debug an Arduino board. This training session will take place Saturday at 6:30pm PT.

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Stay Connected

Be sure to follow along with us on Twitter as we bring you all of the latest happenings from throughout the week. For those attending and looking to have their project featured on the Atmel social channels, tweet us to set up an interview! Unable to attend? No need to worry, we’ll also be live-streaming via Periscope — or something that we like to call #Fairescope!

Vegard Wollan on AVR Freaks and early data books

In the fourth episode of my interview with Vegard Wollan, the co-inventor of the AVR MCU alluded to the passionate following that Atmel and its 8-bit chip have developed.


I can personally attest to this. When one of my pals said he was “going off the reservation” to solve an AVR problem, I thought he meant he was going to use a certain competitor’s microcontroller. Turns out, he was simply referring that he was headed to Atmel’s AVR Freaks forum to get an answer, rather than put in a support ticket or use our knowledge base. What delighted me was when he said, “I would rather jump off a bridge than use a [competitor] part.” Simple as that.

Atmel recently rolled out a redesigned site for the die-hard community, which incorporates both feedback and testing provided by the users themselves. Aside from the new look, the site will utilize a much more robust infrastructure and web technologies to provide users with an enhanced experience. (For those seeking an avid community built around the Atmel | SMART ARM-based products, you can check out AT91.com.)

What I loved about the interview is how Vegard explained it was his college experience that convinced him of the value of a strong user community. We all remember those 3:00am dorm sessions where we would discuss the meaning of life. Vegard noted that Atmel would provide servers and gifts and anything else we could do to support the user community.

The co-inventor also brought along a few copies of the first AVR data book. I was amused to see this post on the AVR Freaks forum, by a user that did not know what a “data book” was. Boy, that makes me feel old! See sonny, back when the Earth was still cooling and dinosaurs roamed the fields, engineers didn’t do everything at their fingertip on the intertube. Companies, much like Atmel, would take all their datasheets and bind them up in this thing called a printed book. I have to admit, it was a great day when I tossed my 500 pounds of databooks in the dumpster. Bless the Internet, it made life so much better.

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Vegard Wollan holds up the draft version of the May 1995 AVR databook.

Of course, that draft was only a checkplot for the real book. The video also shows Vegard holding up the final version of the AVR databook that us old-timers so frequently depended on. How we would have killed for the modern microcontroller selector guide!

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Here, Vegard Wollan holds up the actual printed data book from May 1995, the first release of the famous AVR microcontroller to the world. They had to make some changes so this databook has parts listed that Atmel never actually produced, and was missing some other parts. Those 4-months printed book lead times were a killer for everybody.

So there you have it, folks. With billions of chips in the wild, a following of over 290,000 AVR Freaks and nearly 100,000 forum posts around the topic annually, it’s safe to say we’ve come a long way since the earliest days of the 8-bit microcontroller. If you’re not already a member of the growing AVR Freaks community, be sure to head on over to the newly-updated site and join today!