Tag Archives: AVR MCU

The first-ever Rad Tolerant megaAVR is out of this world!


With billions of AVR chips already deployed throughout the world, it’s now time to take them into space!


This news may come as one small step for boards, one giant leap for Maker-kind: the ATmegaS128 has launched! Not only does Atmel’s first uC Rad Tolerant device share the popular features of the megaAVR family, this out-of-the-world MCU delivers full wafer lot traceability, 64-lead ceramic package (CQFP), space screening, space qualification according to QML and ESCC flow and total ionizing dose up to 30 Krad (Si) for space applications. What’s more, the ATMegaS128 is “latch up” immune thanks to a dedicated silicon process: SEL LET > 62.5Mev at 125°C, 8MHz/3.3V. SEU to heavy ions is estimated to 10-3 error/device/day for low Earth orbit applications.

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With billions of commercial AVR chips widely deployed throughout the world, the new space-grade AVR family benefits from support of the Atmel Studio ecosystem and lets aerospace developers to the industrial-version of the ATmega to prototype their applications for a fraction of the cost. The latest board is available in a ceramic hermetic packaging and is pin-to-pin and drop-in compatible with existing ATmega128 MCUs, allowing flexibility between commercial and qualified devices, enabling faster-time-to-market and minimizing development costs. With this cost-effective approach and a plastic Hirel-qualified version, the ATmegaS128 can be also considered in more general aerospace applications including class A and B avionic critical cases where radiation tolerance is also a key requirement.

“With nearly three decades of aerospace experience, we are thrilled to bring one of our most popular MCU cores to space — the AVR MCU,” explained Patrick Sauvage, General Manager of Atmel’s Aerospace Business Unit. “By improving radiation performance with our proven Atmel AVR cores and ecosystem, the new ATmegaS128 provides developers targeting space applications a smaller footprint, lower power and full analog integration such as motor and sensor control along with data handling functions for payload and platform. We look forward to putting more Atmel solutions into space.”

Among its notable features, the space-ready MCU boasts high endurance and non-volatile memory, robust peripherals (including 8- and 16-bit timers/counters, six PWM channels, 8-channel, 10-bit ADC, TWI/USARTs/SPI serial interface, programmable watchdog timer and on-chip analog compactor), power-on reset and programmable brown-out detection, internal calibrated RC oscillator, external and internal interrupt sources, six sleep modes, as well as power-down, standby and extended standby.

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The STK600 starter kit and development system for the ATmegaS128 will provide users a quick start in developing code on the AVR with advanced features for prototyping and testing new designs. The recently-revealed AVRs are supported by the proven Atmel Studio IDP for developing and debugging Atmel | SMART ARM-based and AVR MCU applications, along with the Atmel Software Framework. Intrigued? Check out the uC Rad Tolerant device here.

This ‘ICONIC’ coffee table book is powered by AVR

Just in time for the holiday season, Jonathan Zufi’s coffee table book entitled “ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation” recounts the past 30 years of Apple design, exploring some of the most visually appealing and significant products ever created by the Cupertino-based company. The book — which features a number of new photos paying special attention to original prototypes — dons an updated look and comes in a few special editions.

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Most notably, the Ultimate Edition includes a special white clamshell case along with a custom PCB designed to pulse embedded LEDs like that of a sleeping older generation Apple notebook when moved.

According to its description, “The circuit is powered by the high-performance, low-power Atmel 8-bit AVR RISC-based microcontroller which combines 1KB ISP flash memory, 32B SRAM, 4 general purpose I/O lines, 16 general purpose working registers, a 16-bit timer/counter with two PWM channels, internal and external interrupts, programmable watchdog timer with internal oscillator, an internal calibrated oscillator, and 4 software selectable power saving modes.”

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“The board and clamshell were designed to make removal of the board easy for the purpose of enabling and replacing the battery. The battery is a standard watch cell CR2032. Based on our calculations, the LED should pulse approximately 9,000 times during the life of an average CR2032. Since the LED pulses three times on each movement cycle, that means that it unless you plan on picking up the book more than 3000 times, the battery should last a long time. But because it’s so cool, we think that you might actually reach that number — so we made it very easy to swap out the battery.”

An ideal gift for any Apple buff, those interested in learning more or buying the AVR powered book for a loved one can do so here.

Introducing the next-generation of 8-bit megaAVR MCUs

Since its initial launch in 2002, megaAVR microcontrollers (MCUs) have become the go-to choice of Makers everywhere. Ranging from the uber-popular ATmega328 to ATmega32U4, the chips can be found at the heart of millions of gadgets and gizmos, including an entire lineup of Arduino boards, 3D printers like RepRap and MakerBot, and innovative DIY platforms such as littleBits, Bare Conductive and MaKey MaKey. Heck, they’ve even captured the hearts of celebrity creator Sir Mix-A-Lot!

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Designed for engineers of all levels from the professional developers to the Maker community, the 8-bit megaAVR MCUs are ideal for applications in a variety of markets — automotive, industrial, consumer and white goods.

Today, we are excited to announce the next generation of this incredibly-popular family, with the debut of new 8-bit megaAVR MCUs. Spanning from 4KB to 16KB Flash memory, the new devices provide next-generation enhancements including additional analog functionality and features for the latest low-power consumer, industrial, white goods and Internet of Things (IoT) applications.

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This expansion of megaAVR family will deliver all the benefits of previous generations including a simple, easy-to-use interface for a seamless upgrade and binary compatibility with existing 8-bit megaAVR MCUs.

“With over 20 years of MCU experience, we are proud to launch our third generation of 8-bit megaAVR MCUs to the market today—a family that has been highly recognized by a variety of communities from the professional designers using our Atmel Studio ecosystem to the hobbyist and Maker in the AVR Freaks and Arduino communities,” explained Oyvind Strom, Atmel Senior Marketing Director. “As the leader in the 8-bit MCU market, Atmel continues to add easy-to-use, innovative products to our broad portfolio of MCUs.”

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Key features of megaAVR MCUs include:

  • Simple, easy-to-use
  • Low power
  • Wide selection of development tools including free Atmel Studio IDE
  • Extensive set of peripherals, including ADC, Analog Comparator, SPI, I2C and USART
  • Single-cycle instructions running 1MIPS per MHz
  • Designed for high-level languages with minimal code space
  • Real-time performance with single cycle I/O access

Among a number of other new attributes:

  • Unique ID for every device enabling a more secure device for IoT applications and wireless networks
  • Improved accuracy of internal oscillators for UART serial communications
  • Enhanced accuracy of internal voltage reference for better analog-to-digital conversion results

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Makers seeking to accelerate their design are encouraged to check out our ultra-low cost Xplained Mini development platform, which is currently available for only $8.88 USD (see what we did there?) in the Atmel Store and fully compatible with 8-bit megaAVR MCUs. The new boards can easily be connected to any Arduino board making it ideal for a variety of projects and prototypes using an Arduino board.

The megaAVR 8-bit MCUs are fully supported by Atmel’s development eco-system including Atmel Studio 6.2, the integrated development environment (IDE) for developing and debugging Atmel | SMART Cortex-M and Atmel AVR MCU-based applications. Atmel Studio 6.2 gives designers a seamless and easy-to-use environment to write, build, simulate, program and debug their applications to write, build, simulate, program and debug your applications written in C/C++ or assembly code using the integrated GCC compiler and AVR assembler. With Atmel’s broad portfolio of AVR products and easy-to-use development software, designers can quickly bring their 8-bit MCU to market. Additionally, designers have access to the company’s embedded software including the Atmel Software Framework and application notes, and the Atmel Gallery app store.

Currently on display at Electronica 2014, the Atmel mega168PB, mega88PB and mega48PB are now available in 32-pin QFN and QFP packages with additional devices slated for later this year. All devices are sampling now. Production quantities for the mega168PB devices are available now while the mega88PB and ATmega48PB devices will be available in February 2015.

Want to explore the AVR microcontrollers a bit further? Head on over to the official page. Those wishing to learn more about the backstory and inspiration of the Maker Movement’s favorite 8-bit MCU can do so from the co-inventor himself here.

Vegard Wollan on the AVR and ARM cores and peripherals

In the fifth video of the series, I asked the co-inventor of the AVR microcontroller about the progression of the peripherals in the various microcontrollers Atmel offers. Vegard shares that when they invented the first AVR products, the team was concerned with ease-of-use, a clean instruction set that would run C, instructions that ran in a single cycle, and good quality tools.

However, he was just as proud of the peripherals that they then developed for the XMEGA line of AVR 8-bit chips. There, he said the stress was still on low power, but also a set of peripherals that were high performance, robust, strong, effective, and that included analog and digital advanced peripherals. Additionally, Vegard stressed how the XMEGA event system would allow programmers to handle complex events and take action, all without waking up the CPU core in the part.

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Vegard Wollan becomes animated when talking about the peripherals in AVR and ARM chips offered by Atmel.

I knew this was cool for the low-power aspect, yet Vegard reminded me that it also allows you to service an interrupt faster and more deterministically — always a good thing in embedded systems. The great news for engineers is that all the cool things Atmel figured out for the XMEGA AVR also went into to the UC3, the 32-bit AVR product lines. Then, we made sure to put these same powerful and flexible peripheral systems into our ARM core-based MCUs. In addition we would add dedicated touch I/O pins and more accurate clocks and references. You can still see the AVR DNA from back in 1990 at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology where the AVR came to life.

What I really loved about Vegard was his humility. Every time I tried to give him credit for the AVR he was sure to remind me that there was a whole team that developed it. And, when I tried to point that the AVR was RISC (reduced instruction set computer) before ARM came out, he told me that he was more proud of the peripherals in all of Atmel’s chips, rather than just the core he invented for the AVR. That’s a good thing to keep in mind.

While using any ARM core will get you the instruction set and header files and open-source tools, Atmel’s ARM chips will also get these great peripherals and the event system to tie them all together, while the CPU sleeps peacefully. A recent article helped me understand Vegard’s Norwegian modesty, but I am sure glad he and his team worked on the AVR and ARM chips.

The Arduino Yún turns one

The Arduino Yún – which was designed in collaboration with Dog Hunter – is based on Atmel’s ATmega32u4 microcontroller (MCU) and also features the Atheros AR9331, an SoC running Linino, a customized version of OpenWRT. Now, one year later, the Yún celebrates its one-year anniversary! With over 9,200 forum posts, 8 OpenWrt-Yún releases and 492,000 search results, the AVR based board has become quite a hit for Makers. We think this deserves an Arduino high-five, for sure!

Made available last September, the Yún was a somewhat unique addition to the existing Arduino line-up, as it boasts a lightweight Linux distribution to complement the traditional MCU interface.

Yún, which means “cloud” in Chinese, aspired to make it simple to connect to complex web services directly from Arduino. The board features WiFi and Ethernet connections, therefore enabling the board to communicate with networks out of the box. Additionally, the Yún’s Linux and Arduino processors link through the Bridge library, enabling Arduino sketches to send commands to the command line interface of Linux.

“The Arduino Yún has the same footprint as an Arduino Uno but combines an ATmega32u4 microcontroller (the same as the Leonardo) and a Linux system based on the Atheros AR9331 chipset,” Arduino’s Federico Vanzati explained. “Additionally, there are built-in Ethernet and WiFi capabilities. The combination of the classic Arduino programming experience and advanced internet capabilities afforded by a Linux system make the Yún a powerful tool for communicating with the internet of things (IoT).”

According to Vanzati, the Yún’s layout keeps the I/O pins the same as the Leonardo and is therefore compatible with the most shields designed for Arduino.

“With the Yún’s auto-discovery system, your computer can recognize boards connected to the same network. This enables you to upload sketches wirelessly to the Yún,” he continued. “You can still upload sketches to the Yún through the micro-USB connector just as you would with the Leonardo.”

On the connectivity side, the Yún is equipped with two separate network interfaces, a 10/100 Mbit/s Fast Ethernet port and a IEEE 802.11 b/g/n standard compliant 2.4GHz WiFi interface, supporting WEP, WPA and WPA2 encryption. As expected, the WiFi interface can also operate as an access point (AP). In AP mode any WiFi enabled device can connect directly to the network created on the Yún. While a Yún in this mode can’t connect to the internet, it could act as a hub for a group of WiFi enabled sensors.

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As Vanzati notes, interfacing Arduino with web services has historically been rather challenging due to memory restrictions.

“[However], the Yun’s Linux environment simplifies the means to access internet services by using many of the same tools you would use on your computer,” he said. “You can run several applications as complex as you need, without stressing the ATmega microcontroller.”

To help engineers and Makers develop applications that can connect to popular web services, Arduini has partnered with Temboo, a service that simplifies accessing hundreds of the web’s most popular APIs. In fact, a Temboo library is packaged with the Yún, making it easy to connect to a large variety of online tools.

Facilitating a seamless connection between the two processors is achieved via the Yún’s Bridge library, which connects the hardware serial port of the AR9331 to Serial1 on the 32U4 (digital pins 0 & 1).

“The serial port of the AR9331 exposes the Linux console (aka, the command line interface, or CLI) for communication with the 32U4,” Vanzati confirmed. “The console is a means for the Linux kernel and other processes to output messages to the user and receive input from the user. File and system management tools are installed by default. It’s also possible to install and run your own applications using Bridge.”

Of course, the ATmega32u4 can also be programmed from the AR9331 by uploading a sketch through the Yún’s WiFi interface. When connected to the same WiFi network as your computer, the board will appear under the “Port” menu of the Arduino IDE. The sketch will be transferred to the AR9331 and the Linux distribution will program the ATmega32u4 through the SPI bus, emulating an AVR ISP programmer.

Last, but certainly not least, the Yún can be powered through the micro-USB connector, the Vin pin, or the optional Power Over Ethernet (POE) module. When powering the board though the Vin pin, users must supply a regulated 5VDC, as there is no on-board regulator for higher voltages.

As we come together to celebrate the Yún’s birthday, feel free to browse the latest projects powered by the board or access more information on the board’s official page here.

Don’t forget to join the Atmel team in Queens later this week for the 5th Annual World Maker Faire. Undoubtedly, this year will be amazing as an expected 750+ Makers and 85,000+ attendees head to the New York Hall of Science to see the latest DIY gizmos and gadgets, as well as AVR Man in the flesh. Once again a Silversmith Sponsor of the event, Atmel will put the spotlight on everything from Arduino to Arduino-related projects. See you soon!

Iron Man of Maine makes his return

Returning this year with tons of Ghostbuster Stark-themed technology is the ironmanofmaine.

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Last year, I had my Mk7 Iron Man suit, and next year, I’ll have another. It all started with my first prop, an Iron Man Mk.1 Arc Reactor, which soon evolved into my first suit. Since then, I’ve learned much more about LEDS, circuits and even 3D printing, which opens the door for endless possibilities.

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As previously reported on Bits & Pieces, my first suit comprised of AVR based Arduino electronics as well as hand repulsers that fired with the flexing of my fore arm muscles via a muscle sensor. $2,000 and 400 hours later, the elaborate costume was completed in my basement.

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More specifically, there were four Arduino Unos (ATmega328) in the suit: one for each bionic replusor, one for the sound board, and one for the arc reactor. All of the components were powered by 10-2600 mAh batteries.

I took a break from the suit building this past year to build Ghostbuster tech, applying what I learned with my Iron Man suit. You can see that here, as I am gradually evolving this even further with real lifelike functions and experiential sound as it was seen in the motion picture.

In my possession, I now have a 3D printer which enables me to make and print parts that I would have normally had to build from scratch; a majority of these 3D-printed parts were applied to my stark Ghostbuster tech.

Next year, I plan on diving back into the suit building again, taking all the 3D printing knowledge I have acquired and use it to develop a 3D-printed ironman suit. This was my first suit which was made of foam floor mats from Sears. You can see a step-by-step progression of all my builds on my Facebook and website here.

Most importantly, inspiration comes from passion and the pursuit of the things and heroes we adore. I look forward to many more years of being a Maker and being part of the ever-evolving Maker Movement. This is only the beginning. More experiences will continue to spark and inspire, while deeper layers of design and creativity will help push the envelop of making.

Two-Wire LIN networking with Atmel (Part 3)

In the first part of this series, we took a closer look at the basics of LIN networking, the key parameters for a two-wire LIN (Atmel) solution and the details of a LIN Bus power supply. In the second part of this series, we discussed various aspects of slave node current consumption, specifically, system clock frequency, sleep mode power management and LIN scheduling power management.

And today we’re going to talk about slave node buffer capacitance, LIN Bus data protocol and a multi-slave evaluation network.

“While an important piece of the two-wire LIN equation, sizing of the slave node buffer capacitor, CVS_S, is not a dominant factor. The capacitor must provide sufficient charge reserve to power the slave node during a LIN frame data packet (LIN signal is periodically asserted low) and also receive a full charge between LIN frame data transmissions (the LIN signal is pulled up to system supply voltage),” Atmel engineering rep Darius Rydahl told Bits & Pieces.

“In practice, bench tests indicate that a buffer capacitor of 47μF to 100μF is sufficient to maintain power to the slave node for a network operating at a data rate of 19.2kbaud with a 100ms delay (or greater) between LIN data frames and a 9V minimum operating battery voltage.”

In terms of the LIN Bus Data Protocol, Rydahl notes that the format of the LIN bus data protocol will affect the charge/discharge rate of the slave node supply line buffer capacitor. Three (primary) factors affect the data format: Rate of data transfer, quantity of data transferred and LIN data schedule table period.

“The LIN bus data rate should be kept high, i.e., a maximum baud rate of 19.2kHz or higher to maximize the speed at which the data can be transferred. The quantity of data number of bits) should be kept as low as possible in order to minimize the duration of the dominant state (logic level low) on the LIN bus line,” he continued.

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“And finally, the LIN schedule table period should be long enough in duration to allow the LIN bus powered slave node time to fully recharge the buffer capacitor, CVS_S, between LIN message frames. It should also be noted that most Atmel LIN transceivers are capable of baud rates in excess of the LIN specification.”

On the multi-slave evaluation network side, the two-wire LIN network used for test and characterization purposes is illustrated in figure 8. Essentially, the two-wire LIN network total node count is limited only by the LIN master pull-up resistor’s ability to source the required current to the attached slave nodes to maintain normal operation (slave node VS greater than 5.5V).

“Each node has been configured using the Atmel ATA6617-EK evaluation board (SiP: AVR MCU, ATtiny167 and Atmel SBC ATA6624),” said Rydahl. “This configuration provides one possible operating scenario and, as such, will most likely need to be modified to accommodate the end user’s application.”

The network utilizes the standard LIN protocol and does not deviate from the LIN2.x standard in any manner. The schedule table has been optimized for the two-wire LIN application where a LIN wake-up frame is followed by a single slave node frame shown in figure 9.

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“Standard LIN protocol dictates that each node must process every incoming frame ID message on the bus. This forces each slave node to wake-up on every incoming message, regardless of ownership. Sending a wake-up frame followed by a single slave node frame minimizes the time that each slave node is powered ON,” he added.

“The alternate approach of sending a wake-up frame followed by a sequential burst of all the slave frames will cause slave nodes to remain awake longer than necessary. The end result is an overall increase in system load current—a scenario that should be avoided.”

Interested in learning more about Two-Wire LIN networking with Atmel? Be sure to check out part one and two of this series. Part four will run tomorrow.