Tag Archives: AVR UC3

Time traveling through augmented reality and smell

This project uses augmented reality to lay virtual images onto a real world landscape, while emitting scents to make it as if you are there.

When one wants to learn about history, he or she will typically head to a museum, read a book, or browse the web. While these resources may offer a glimpse into the past, their static displays can’t actually emulate what it was like during an earlier age. That was until now.

An Institute of Archaeology University College London researcher has found a way to blur the lines between yesterday and today, giving people the illusion that they have indeed traveled through time. Almost sounds like a scene straight out of a Hollywood script, right?


The Dead Men’s Eyes app was initially created by Dr. Stuart Eve as a way to explore the use of augmented reality within archaeological practice. As a user holds the iPad’s camera up to the landscape, virtual renderings are positioned on top of the real world images, while the iPad’s GPS helps to pinpoint the user’s location. This enables the reconstructions to change in real-time as the user moves about their environment.

To bring this project to life, Dr. Eve uses a combination of the Unity3D gaming development platform and Qualcomm’s Vuforia mobile vision SDK to place the virtual layers in their correct location and provide the proper perspective. This is all achieved through archaeological data and then compared to where the user is standing.


A smell delivery device was also implemented to make the experience even more immersive. The aptly-dubbed Dead Men’s Nose emits scents based on the environment to make it as if one were really transplanted into another era. The system itself is based on an Arduino, an Arduino Wi-Fi Shield (AVR UC3), and a cheap computer fan. The device can either be worn or placed around the landscape, and more importantly, can be used with any odor of the user’s liking.


In terms of software, the mechanism connects to a web server and a fragrance is fired off by the Unity3D software. As a result, the smells are released in the right place at the right time as the user explores their surroundings. Dr. Eve notes that future models will include multiple aromas as well as an improved 3D-printed enclosure.


“Technological development is moving at an incredible rate, and already it is possible to wear transparent glasses with forward-facing cameras to overlay the AR information directly onto your field of vision, rather than having to use a portable handheld device such as a mobile telephone,” the archaeologist told Daily Mail in a recent writeup. “As this develops further, this will go some way towards mitigating the disconnectedness of having to hold up a mobile device in order to experience the virtual objects.”

Intrigued? Head over to the project’s official page here.

Wireless chipsets for the Internet of Things (IoT)

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a future world where all types of electronic devices link to each other via the Internet. Today, it’s estimated that there are nearly 10 billion devices in the world connected to the Internet, a figure expected to triple to nearly 30 billion by 2020.

In a recent article about the IoT, the LX Group took a closer look at a number of chipsets on the market that can be used to integrate wireless networking and existing embedded designs with low complexity and cost. One of the chipsets highlighted by the LX Group is Redpine Signals’ Connect-IO-n series of modules which allows 802.11 wireless LAN connectivity to be added relatively easily to an embedded microcontroller system.

“In collaboration with Atmel these modules have been optimized for use with Atmel microcontrollers (MCUs), particularly the Atmel AVR XMEGA and AVR UC3 series microcontrollers,” an LX Group rep wrote in an article published on the Australian-based Ferret. “Some modules in this family provide 802.11a/b/g/n Wi-Fi connectivity, while all modules provide the TCP/IP stack on board and are FCC certified, simplifying RF compliance certification of the entire design.”

More specifically, noted the LX Group rep, these modules are aimed at providing the ability to add 802.11 wireless connectivity to 8-bit and 16-bit microcontrollers with low integration effort and low memory footprint required in the host microcontroller to support the WiFi device, especially where 802.11n support is desired.

“The modules in this series can also be interfaced to the host microcontroller over a UART or SPI interface, while a standby current consumption of only a few microamps potentially allows for years of battery life with no external energy source as long as the radio is only briefly enabled when it is needed,” the rep added.

“The RedPine RS9110-N-11-28 module from the Connect-IO-n family is relatively unusual in that it provides dual-band 2.4GHz/5GHz 802.11 a/b/g/n connectivity for an embedded device, supporting connection to any Wi-Fi device or network and potentially avoiding congestion in the 2.4 GHz band as used with 802.11b/g devices.”

Clearly, wireless connectivity is more important than ever for developers and engineers, as wireless extends from PC peripherals and home entertainment applications to the smart grid and beyond. To support these sophisticated applications, Atmel offers a complete line of IEEE 802.15.4-compliant, IPv6/6LoWPAN based, ZigBee certified wireless solutions.

They are based on Atmel’s family of RF transceivers, 8-bit and 32-bit AVR and ARM microcontrollers. To facilitate rapid development and speed time to market, Atmel offers a variety of free software stacks, reference designs, wireless modules and development kits. Simply put, the provide everything engineers need to meet the unique needs of low-cost, low-power, wireless control and sensor network applications.

Key features include:

  • Single-Chip Solutions — The Atmel IEEE 802.15.4-compliant single-chip solution combines an AVR microcontroller and best-in-class 2.4GHz RF transceiver. This particular combo is ideal for applications requiring minimal board space and cost – without compromising MCU and RF performance.

  • Transceivers – Atmel’s wide range of high performance, low-power IEEE 802.15.4-compliant transceivers support regional 700/800/900MHz frequency bands available in China, Europe, Japan and North America, as well as the 2.4GHz band available worldwide. For maximum flexibility, these unique RF transceivers can be combined with Atmel’s microcontrollers over the SPI Interface.

  • Bundles – Flexible IEEE 802.15.4-compliant bundles make it easy to create a solution that is appropriately aligned to your application needs.

  • Modules – ZigBits are compact 802.15.4/ZigBee modules featuring record-breaking range performance and exceptional ease of integration. ZigBits also pack a complete FCC/CE/ARIB certified RF design that eliminates costly and time-consuming RF development and gets your product to market on-time and on-budget.

Additional information about Atmel’s MCU Wireless controllers can be found here.


Wireless packages for the IoT

Atmel offers flexible IEEE 802.15.4-compliant bundles, making it easy to create a tailored solution optimized for specific requirements. Simply choose the Atmel MCU that is best-suited to a particular application and combine it with one of our versatile RF transceivers.

“For example, gas and water meters are a rapidly-growing market as the smart grid gains maturity,” an Atmel engineering rep told Bits & Pieces. “RF communication is key for gas and water meters, because of the increasing availability of the AMI architecture, with the smart electricity meter often acting as the gateway to the utility for meter reading.”

When paired with an Atmel-powered 8- or 16-bit microcontroller that offers ultra-low power and integrated LCD segment drive support, developers can rapidly build an application which is ideal for the growing metering market.

“More specifically, we offer several RF bundle solutions that let you combine selected microcontrollers with an RF transceiver: AT86RF212 for the regional 700/800/900 MHz bands, and AT86RF230 and AT86RF231 for the worldwide 2.4GHz frequency band. These transceivers are true SPI-to-antenna solutions that comprise the only requirement for the MCU to feature SPI Serial Interface,” the engineering rep continued.

“Our flexible solutions let you to pick the microcontroller that is best-suited for your target application and combine it with the RF transceivers that features your RF requirements. The three RF transceivers are pin-compatible, making it easy when RF requirement change to replace the RF transceiver and reuse the microcontroller application.”

On the capacitive touch side, developers can choose one of Atmel’s bundles or combine any of the Atmel QTouch Library supported tinyAVRs, megaAVRs, AVR XMEGAs or AVR UC3 devices with the Atmel transceivers – easily adding capacitive touch functionality to RF applications.

Interested in learning about Atmel’s wireless packages for the IoT? Be sure to check out our detailed device breakdown here, specifically the RF212B and RF233.

Atmel MCUs: High performance for the IoT

Atmel microcontrollers (MCUs) are designed to deliver maximum performance and meet the requirements of advanced applications. That is why our MCUs offer highly integrated architecture optimized for high-speed connectivity, optimal data bandwidth and rich interface support – making them ideal for powering the smart, connected products at the heart of The Internet of Things (IoT).

Essentially, the Internet of Things (IoT) refers to a future world where all types of electronic devices link to each other via the Internet. Today, it’s estimated that there are nearly 10 billion devices in the world connected to the Internet, a figure expected to triple to nearly 30 billion by 2020.

“As applications become more interconnected and user interfaces become richer, microcontrollers must handle and transfer ever-growing levels of data,” an Atmel engineering rep told Bits & Pieces. “To boost performance for these smart, connected applications, Atmel’s 8-bit Flash MCUs integrate a wide range of classic communication peripherals, such as UART, SPI and I2C. Plus, our higher-performance 32-bit MCUs and embedded MPUs (eMPUs) feature Ethernet and full-speed and high-speed USB, while also providing extension ports for external communication modules such as WiFi or cellular modems.”

More specifically, Atmel’s ARM-based SAM9G45 eMPU  boasts high-speed 480 Mbps USB Host and Device Ports with on-chip transceivers, Ethernet MAC and SDIO/SD Card/MMC interfaces – offering developers an easy way to manage large amounts of data and interconnection both between systems and printed circuit boards (PCBs) inside a system. Indeed, the SAM9G45 eMPU is fully compliant with both EHCI and OHCI standards, enabling easy porting of USB host drivers to the SAM9G45.

Similarly, Atmel’s 32-bit AVR and AT91SAM devices are also well-suited for a wide range of standards-based high-speed USB applications. To be sure, the peripheral DMA controller found in the AVR XMEGA and AVR UC3 facilitates efficient data transfers between peripherals and memories with minimal CPU intervention. This eliminates CPU bottlenecks, allowing AVR microcontrollers to achieve transfer rates of up to 33 MBit/s per SPI and USART port with only a 15 percent load on the CPU.

“In addition, Atmel offers a complete line of IEEE 802.15.4-compliant, IPv6/6LoWPAN based, ZigBee certified wireless solutions,” the engineering rep continued. “They are based on our extensive family of RF transceivers, 8-bit and 32-bit AVR, and ARM microcontrollers. As expected, to ease development and speed time to market, Atmel offers a variety of free software stacks, reference designs, wireless modules and development kits.”

In terms of ensuring sufficient data bandwidth, Atmel’s 32-bit MCUs and eMPUs contains a set of parallel data buses where each bus master controls its own dedicated bus connected to all the slaves. This lets the devices support tremendous data bandwidth and removes processing bottlenecks. Atmel 400 MHz eMPUs also feature a high data speedway architecture based on a peripheral DMA (direct memory access) and distributed memory architecture that, together with a multi-layer bus matrix, enables multiple simultaneous data transfers between memories, peripherals and external interfaces without consuming CPU clock cycles.

Meanwhile, select models of Atmel’s 32-bit microcontrollers feature additional SRAM blocks connected to the multi-layer databus or tightly-coupled with the CPU, enabling devices with multiple high-speed communication interfaces to transfer more data by allowing each peripheral to use all of the available bandwidth of any one of the SRAMs. Combined with the peripheral DMA controller, this allows large blocks of data to be transferred with minimal load on the CPU.

It should also be noted that Atmel’s versatile and expansive MCU portfolio can be used to power a wide range of sophisticated interfaces. Examples include industrial applications, such as home and commercial building automation, data loggers, point-of-sale terminals and cash registers, in-house displays for energy metering, alarm systems and medical equipment – all are joining the “smart” revolution currently enjoyed by portable media player and smartphone markets.

So in addition to ubiquitous Internet connectivity, a central aspect of The Internet of Things, the way in which individuals interface and interact with equipment is fundamentally changing. This is prompting hardware designers to increase the processor performance to several 100 MIPS, the peripheral data rates to tens of Mbps and on and off-chip bandwidth to Gbps. As such, the memory size scales with the software to several Mbytes in cases of an RTOS-based implementation or tens of Mbytes for Linux or Microsoft Embedded CE.

Last, but certainly not least, videos are replacing static images. To address this demand, the Atmel SAM9M10 eMPU embeds a high-performance hardware video decoder and 2D accelerator, delivering a high-quality user experience, all while preserving the full processing power of the central processing unit for the application.

“Simply put, we are continuing to build on its legacy of innovation and highly integrated designs, to deliver a solid combination of performance, flexibility and efficiency to support the machine-to-machine (M2M) communications and evolution of the ‘industrial Internet,'” the engineering rep added.

Designing PLC systems and I/O modules with Atmel

PLC systems are typically highly complex,  as they integrate numerous board modules required by current-gen automated industrial environments, including:

  • Programmable logic controllers (PLC) or programmable automated controllers (PAC)
  • Distributed Control Systems
  • Digital and analog IO-modules
  • Field bus communication modules
  • Industrial Ethernet interfaces
  • Wireless communication module

“Clearly, the diversity of board designs for industrial PLC applications is challenging for R&D departments. For optimal hardware and software development, designers require a broad, efficient product family where development can be re-used as much as possible,” an Atmel engineering rep told Bits & Pieces.

“To meet these needs, Atmel offers efficient AVR and ARM-based product lineups ranging from low pincount, low flash size microcontrollers to high-performing embedded MPUs running at 400MHz.”

Indeed, for main CPU applications, Atmel’s SAM9 series offers up to 400Mhz ARM926EJ core with up to 32KB instruction and data caches for fast execution times, while a unique dual EBI (External Bus interface) feature allows connecting dedicated circuits for field bus or real time industrial Ethernet communication without strongly impacting the bus load and the performance of the application.

“In addition, the implementation of the TCM (Tightly Coupled Memory) interface on selected products enables access to the internal SRAM with zero wait state at 400MHz. With this feature, time-critical code sections and interrupt routines can be executed fast and deterministically,” the Atmel engineering rep continued. “Plus, our microcontrollers support up to 37 DMA channels with double buffering feature to minimize CPU load and reduce real time constraints, while support for DDR2 external memory enables lower cost and longer availability for CPU devices.”

Additional key features? An integrated power-on-reset (eliminates the need for cost-intensive external power management IC), serial NVM for system boot (allows smaller PCB layout), industrial BGA package with 0.8mm pitch (eases PCB layout and reduces assembly costs) and system security solutions (peripheral components).

“In terms of I/O module solutions, Atmel offers high-speed serial peripherals for a fast communication with backplane bus interface or the connection to high resolution external ADC or DAC, with SPI data rates up to 48Mbps on the SAM3U. CAN modules are available on Atmel AVR UC3, megaAVR and AT91SAM microcontrollers,” the engineering rep explained.

“There are also numerous 16-bit timers with input capture function for time stamping, PWM channels support control and dim functions for LEDs. Of course, Atmel supports a rich set of analog functions such as 12-bit ADC and DAC, as well as analog comparator for monitoring the operation condition of the IO-module. And last, but certainly not least, we offer a high performance CPU up to 96MHz with integrated MAC unit supporting the growing demand for signal conditioning on the analog IO-module.”

Interested in learning more about designing PLC and I/O modules with Atmel tech? You can check out our complete device breakdown here.

tinyAVR: Balancing performance and efficiency in a small package

The AVR tour continues! Our first stop? Atmel’s AVR UC3, an MCU built around high-performance 32-bit AVR architecture and optimized for highly integrated applications. Next up? The AVR XMEGA, an MCU designed for real-time performance, high integration and ultra-low power. Our third stop was Atmel’s stalwart megaAVR, which neatly balances both capacity and performance.

And today we are getting up close and personal with Atmel’s tinyAVR lineup. As one can infer from its name, the tinyAVR series is optimized for applications requiring performance, power efficiency and ease of use in a small package – with the smallest tinyAVR measuring only 1.5mm x 1.4mm. As expected, all tinyAVR devices are based on the same architecture and compatible with other AVR devices. Engineers can employ the tinyAVR as a single chip solution in small systems – or use them to deliver glue logic and distributed intelligence in larger systems.

“Integrated ADC, EEPROM memory and brown-out detector allows devs to build applications without adding external components, while tinyAVR offers flash memory and on-chip debug for fast, secure, cost-effective in-circuit upgrades that significantly cuts product time to market,” an Atmel engineering rep told Bits & Pieces. “Simply put, the tinyAVR offers an optimized combination of miniaturization, processing power, analog performance and system-level integration.”

It should be noted that the tinyAVR is the most compact device in the AVR family and the only device capable of operating at just 0.7V. Whereas most microcontrollers require 1.8V or more to operate, the tinyAVR (with boost regulator) boosts the voltage from a single AA or AAA battery into a stable 3V supply to power an entire application. Plus, tinyAVR designs can be coupled with Atmel’s CryptoAuthentication device for an added level of security against hackers and cloners.

Additional key features include:

  • Capacitive Touch – Atmel’s QTouch Library makes it easier for engineers to embed capacitive-touch button, slider and wheel functionality into general-purpose Atmel AVR microcontroller applications. The royalty-free QTouch Library provides several library files for each device and supports different numbers of touch channels, enabling both flexibility and efficiency in touch application.
  • Fast and code efficient – The AVR CPU gives the tinyAVR devices the same high performance as Atmel’s larger AVR devices and several times the processing power of any similarly-sized competitor. Flexible and versatile, they feature high code efficiency that allows them fit a broad range of applications.
  • High integration – Each pin has multiple uses as I/O, ADC and PWM. Even the reset pin can be reconfigured as an I/O pin. tinyAVR also features a Universal Serial Interface (USI) which can be used as SPI, UART or TWI.

Interested in learning more? Be sure to check out our full tinyAVR portfolio here.

Capacity and performance characterize Atmel’s megaAVR

Our ongoing coverage of Atmel’s comprehensive AVR portfolio has taken readers on a detailed MCU (microcontroller) tour this month. First, Bits & Pieces dove into the guts of Atmel’s AVR UC3 which is built around high-performance 32-bit AVR architecture and optimized for highly integrated applications.

We then spent some time with Atmel’s AVR XMEGA, an MCU designed for real-time performance, high integration and ultra-low power. And today we want to properly acquaint our readers with Atmel’s megaAVR microcontroller, which is well known for both capacity and performance.

“When your designs need some extra muscle, you need the megaAVR. Ideal for applications requiring large amounts of code, the megaAVR offers substantial program and data memories with performance up to 20 MIPS, with picoPower technology minimizing power consumption,” an Atmel engineering rep told Bits & Pieces. “All megaAVRs offer self-programmability for fast, secure, cost-effective in-circuit upgrades. You can even upgrade the flash while running your application.”

Indeed, the megaAVR family offers Atmel’s widest selection of devices in terms of memories, pin counts and peripherals. Meaning, engineers can choose from general-purpose devices to models with specialized peripherals like USB, or LCD controllers, or CAN, LIN and Power Stage Controllers.

More specifically, Atmel’s megaAVR family is equipped with on-chip flash, SRAM, internal EEPROM, SPI, TWI, USART, USB, CAN, LIN, watchdog timer, a choice of internal or external precision oscillator and general purpose I/O pins.

In terms of analog functions, the megaAVR boasts advanced analog capabilities, such as ADC, DAC, built-in temperature sensor and internal voltage reference, brown out detector, a fast analog comparator and a programmable analog gain amplifier. Simply put, the high level of integration allows designs with fewer external analog components.

And last, but certainly not least, megaAVR microcontrollers help accelerate the development process with advanced in-system programming and on-chip debug, while in-system programming works to simplify production line programming and field upgrades.

Interested in learning more? A full breakdown of our AVR portfolio is available here.

Atmel MCUs for fire and security

Atmel’s versatile MCUs power a number of fire and security applications – allowing vendors to design advanced systems that effectively safeguard people, property and business resources.

“Atmel offers a wide range of ARM-based AT91SAM and AVR 32-bit microcontrollers for such applications,” an Atmel engineering rep told Bits & Pieces. “More specifically, the SAM3 family and AVR UC3 families support entry-level systems, while advanced controllers with Ethernet connectivity are based on the SAM9 and AVR UC3 families.”

Backup mode and diverse connectivity options include an embedded soft modem, Wi-Fi extension board, Ethernet and RS485 connectivity, with Atmel CryptoAuthentication enabling node authentication and secure communication. Top-level security can be provided by AVR XMEGA hardware AES/DES crypto module and AES/DES bootloaders for megaAVR, tinyAVR and AVR XMEGA.

“It should also be noted that low-power 8-bit microcontrollers minimizes power consumption, with Atmel’s ATmega128RFA1 single-chip, allowing devs to design ZigBee smoke and motion detectors with extremely low power consumption,” the engineering rep continued. “Plus, Atmel’s XMEGA analog delivers optimal performance with 12-bit ADC resolution up to 2Msps with internal gain stage (up to X64), while optimizing BOM by removing its external gain stage.”

So let’s look at some specific example of how Atmel MCUs can be used to power a wide range of fire and security devices:

  • Control Panels – The primary point of contact for home and building automation consumers. Atmel’s portfolio supports a wide range of designs, meeting simple or complex needs.
  • Detectors – Known as the eyes and ears of fire and security solutions. Our low-power solutions are capable of supporting motion detectors, smoke detectors, sounders and glass break detectors based on the Atmel tinyAVR, megaAVR, AVR XMEGA and MCU Wireless (single-chip microcontroller +RF) families.
  • PIR (Camera) Detector – Atmel’s AVR picoPower technology significantly improves detector battery life, delivering the reliability that Passive Infrared (PIR) camera-based detectors require.

“Flexible connectivity is key for home gateway and control panel applications. That is why Atmel’s microcontrollers (MCUs) help vendors achieve a rapid time-to-market by providing validated connectivity via Ethernet, USB, soft modem (PSTN), Wireless LAN and RS-485 interfaces with backup mode,” the engineering rep added. “In the event the main power supply cut off, the control panel can automatically switch to battery operating mode to maintain connectivity.”

Interested in learning more? Additional information about Atmel’s extensive fire and security portfolio can be found here.