Tag Archives: AVR

Introducing the new Power Debugger


Atmel has unveiled a new high-performance debugging tool with advanced power visualization for ultra-low-power designs.


If you’re seeking a high-accuracy debugging tool that lets you visualize the power usage of your product during development, you’re in luck. That’s because Atmel has unveiled a new Power Debugger, the latest dev tool for debugging and programming both Atmel | SMART Cortex-M–based and AVR MCUs that use JTAG, SWD, PDI, debugWIRE, aWire, TPI or SPI target interfaces.

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With ultra-low power being such a critical factor in next-generation IoT, wearable and battery-operated devices, having the ability to locate code where power spikes occur is crucial. The Power Debugger features two independent current-sensing channels for collecting power measurements during application execution (one high resolution channel that can measure 100nA to 100mA and one lower resolution channel that can measure 1mA to 1A), and streams such collected measurements to the Atmel Data Visualizer — available in the Atmel Studio 7 IDE — for real-time analysis and display. The program graphs power usage and utilizes this data to estimate application battery life. What’s more, the Data Visualizer allows developers to correlate power samples with the code that was executing when the sample was taken, greatly reducing the time required to identify “hot spots” in the developers’ application.

“Lowering overall power consumption is key to many customer designs and essential for battery-operated and wearable designs,” explains Steve Pancoast, Atmel Vice President of Software Development, Applications and Tools. “Atmel provides cost-effective, easy-to-use tools that make it possible for our developers to profile the power usage of applications running on their own hardware as part of the standard development cycle. The Power Debugger is part of Atmel’s pledge to bring the latest tools to market, enabling developers to quickly get their prototype to production with the lowest power consumption.”

The Power Debugger is now available on Atmel’s online store and and through a variety of distributors. Each kit consists of a main unit with plastic back-plate, two USB cables, a 10-lead squid cable, a flat cable (10-pin 50mil connector and 6-pin 100mil connector), an adapter board (20-pin 100mil connector, 6-pin 50mil connector and 10-pin 100mil connector) and a 20-pin 100mil jumper cable.

IAR Embedded Workbench vastly improves performance for 8-bit AVR MCUs


Version 6.70 of the popular toolchain includes improved compiler optimizations. 


IAR Systems has released a new version of its complete C/C++ development toolchain IAR Embedded Workbench for AVR. Version 6.70 of the popular toolchain includes improved compiler optimizations as well as new device support and updates to the add-on tool C-STAT for static code analysis.

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“Embedded systems are growing in complexity and many applications are being migrated to 32-bit microcontrollers. Despite this, the 8-bit AVR microcontrollers are continuously being used in many applications for example within automotive, battery management and wireless solutions,” says Thomas Sporrong, IAR Systems Global FAE Manager. “IAR Systems has a large customer base of developers working with AVR and the company remains committed to supplying world-class tools for embedded developers across the entire range from 8-bit to 32-bit microcontrollers.”

IAR Embedded Workbench for AVR features world-leading code optimizations that create compact, fast-performing code. The optimization technology has been further improved in this version, particularly involving speed optimizations of floating-point data types. These improvements enable developers to gain even better performance in applications where optimal execution speed is critical. To achieve the best possible configuration for the application at hand, developers are able to tune the optimizations. With the possibility to set different optimizations for different parts of the code, the right balance between code size and code speed can be achieved.

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The previous version 6.60 of IAR Embedded Workbench for AVR introduced support for IAR Systems’ static analysis add-on product C-STAT. Completely integrated in the IAR Embedded Workbench IDE, C-STAT can perform numerous checks for compliance with rules as defined by the coding standards MISRA C:2004, MISRA C++:2008 and MISRA C:2012, as well as rules based on for example CWE (the Common Weakness Enumeration) and CERT C/C++. By using static analysis, developers can identify errors such as memory leaks, access violations, arithmetic errors, and array and string overruns at an early stage to ensure code quality and minimize the impact of errors on the finished product and on the project timeline. With the latest release come further updates to the C-STAT tool, including an added report generator and added pragmas for temporary disabling checks.

IAR Embedded Workbench for AVR is a complete set of powerful C/C++ development tools with extensive support for devices in all AVR families. IAR Systems’ high-performance development tools and world-class technical support are available across Atmel’s entire range of 8-bit and 32-bit microcontroller architectures.

Interested? Get started here.

Bring your wildest wearable projects to life with Fiat Lux


The Fiat Lux controller is an Arduino-compatible board specifically designed for DIY wearable projects.


Sisters and entreprenuers Lavanya and Melissa Jawaharlal have already successfully run a pair of Kickstarter campaigns. You may recall the AVR powered Pi-Bot from last year? Hoping three’s a charm, the co-founders of Southern California startup STEM Center have now introduced Fiat Lux — a wearable electronics kit for students, teachers, Makers and hobbyists alike.

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Fiat Lux — which appropriately means “let there be light” in Latin — is based around an Arduino-compatible, compact board specifically designed for wearable projects, ranging from rudimentary circuits to more complex gadgetry. For your convenience, the ATmega32U4 driven controller comes equipped with everything a Maker could possibly need in bringing their idea to life: RGB LEDs, a photocell, a buzzer and a pushbutton.

To add a little more pizazz to any project, Fiat Lux includes a variety of LED options: basic LED shines, a smart tri-color pixellite and even a 17-pixellite ring for more advanced creations. And that’s not all. The kit also packs a light sensor, a LiPo battery and charger, conductive thread and Aida cloth. Not only bounded by the supplies provided, those wishing to broaden their creativity canvas can do so by transforming any ordinary object, like a T-shirt or safety vest, into a flashy accessory or nighttime garment. A special friendship bracelet. A light-up tie. A dangling pair of earrings. An LED-laden bike jacket. The possibilities are truly endless!

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“Wearable electronics are becoming extremely popular — smart watches, wearable fitness trackers, virtual reality glasses, and more! Now imagine creating your own wearable electronics,” the Jawaharlals explain. “Real learning happens by doing. By designing, creating, and programming their own wearable tech, students build their confidence and have a higher chance of pursuing a tech career. DIY wearables are not just for students — it’s for everyone!”

For the younger generation or the novices starting out, STEM Center USA offers two separate dialed-back kits that will help users work their way up to the more comprehensive set. The Fiat Lux will be complemented by a user manual, an assortment of suggested projects and video tutorials, so that beginners can familiarize themselves with electronics and other requisite DIY skills.

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But what’s hardware without software? Makers with a little experience will be able to code their Fiat Lux in the C language using Arduino. According to the Jawaharlal sisters, they have also developed a first-of-its-kind, easy-to-use graphical programming interface for young students that’ll automatically generate the corresponding C code right there on the computer screen, making the process as seamless as possible!

Intrigued? Head over to Fiat Lux’s Kickstarter campaign, where STEM Center USA is currently seeking $30,000. Delivery is slated for March 2016. On another note, the duo recently appeared on the ABC hit series Shark Tank, drawing interest from several of the sharks and eventually scoring a $200,000 investment from QVC’s Lori Greiner. Safe to say, the Maker Movement has gone mainstream!

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The BuzzClip is a wearable assistant for the visually impaired


The BuzzClip is a discreet wearable device that helps the blind or partially sighted navigate the world around them. 


Whereas most traditional aids like canes and seeing eye dogs are great for detecting objects below the waist-level, many who are visually impaired continue to seek a more versatile solution that offers upper body coverage. So far, it seems that little has been done to address the specific needs of the large partially-sighted population, not to mention to diminish the social stigma often associated with using these conventional means of assistance.

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With this in mind, Toronto-based startup iMerciv has developed a small, discreet wearable for those who are blind or have limited visibility. The BuzzClip can be attached to just about any form of clothing and uses ultrasonic sensors to spot objects that may lie directly in one’s path. It then notifies the user of an obstacle through intuitive vibrations, allowing them to safely navigate around anything that they may encounter along the way. The closer one gets to bumping into something, such as a wall, piece of furniture or a hanging branch, the vibrations will intensify accordingly.

“Orientation and mobility is difficult for a person living with blindness or partial sight. In urban jungles like Toronto, there happen to be many hazardous obstacles scattered all over the city that are difficult to detect. Navigating around busy streets with construction signs, barriers, promotional signboards and tree branches has always been a daily challenge for those living with vision loss,” its creators note.

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The BuzzClip boasts a battery life of up to 10 hours, and can be recharged via microUSB. It also comes with two different range options, indoor and outdoor, that are controlled by a simple switch indicated with tactile markings. Users can easily toggle between one and two meter distances, depending on whether they’re walking through the house or taking a leisurely stroll outside, respectively.

Beyond that, multiple units can be employed at the same time for enhanced coverage. For example, placing one BuzzClip on the chest another on each sleeve would protect someone’s front and sides, providing them with more information on their immediate surroundings.

In terms of hardware, the BuzzClip is equipped with a 42kHz ultrasonic sensor for detection, a vibration motor for haptic feedback and an MCU for its brain, all housed inside anodized aluminum casing with a titanium spring clip for ensured stability.

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Once again, this latest project is another fine example of how the burgeoning Maker community can literally make a difference in the world. Know of someone who could benefit greatly from this gadget? Head over to the BuzzClip’s Indiegogo campaign, where iMerciv is currently seeking $50,000. Delivery is expected to get underway in March 2016.

Makerarm is a versatile robotic arm for Makers


Makerarm is a complete personal fabrication system crammed into a single, beautifully-designed robotic arm for your desktop. 


While a handful of robotic arms have emerged onto the scene recently, we’ve been holding out for one that was brought to our attention back in May. And the time has finally arrived! Now live on Kickstarter, the aptly named Makerarm is a complete personal fabrication system packed into a sleek robotic arm that sits right on your desktop.

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The affordable gadget, which has an impressive work area of 378.5 square inches, is equipped with interchangeable heads for various applications. These include 3D printing both filament and resin, plotting on any surface, CNC milling at high speeds, engraving with a 500mW laser and soldering PCBs, among countless others. What’s more, Makerarm boasts a reach of 15.7 inches and is capable of assembling electronics by picking parts up and placing them down using either vacuum pump coupled suction cups, electromagnets or grippers.

Makerarm is being billed with many of the components you would expect from today’s most popular 3D printers, namely a 10″ Z-axis and the ability to extrude an assortment of materials. The modular tool also comes with features like auto-leveling to ensure consistency and Wi-Fi connectivity for wireless control. Plus, it can work in coordination with other Makerarms to accomplish specific tasks.

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The impressive SCARA robot is built around an ATmega2560 responsible for handling the I/Os and motion control, as well as another MPU that serves as its brain. Makerarm comes with its own browser-based software, which allows remote management from any device via Wi-Fi. This means you’ll be able to do things like view Makerarm in 3D, train it to perform repeated actions, load designs and models for one-click 3D printing, milling and engraving, connect third party apps, and even create custom apps of your own through its hardware development kit and API.

On top of all that, Makerarm’s UI can detect which head is attached and will only display options and information relevant to that particular function. And, should you wish to use your favorite CAD/CAM and tool path generation program such as Autodesk Fusion 360, you can go right ahead!

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Is this the piece of machinery you’ve been dying to have on your workbench or desktop? Then head over to Makerarm’s Kickstarter campaign, where the team is currently seeking $349,750. Units are expected to begin shipping a year from now.

8 out of the 10 Hackaday Prize finalists are powered by Atmel


Hackaday reveals the 10 finalists who are one step closer to a trip into space or some big bucks.


One simple idea can make a difference, but together we Makers can change the world. That was the premise behind this year’s Hackaday Prize, which encouraged participants to build something that matters.

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As our friends at Hackaday explain:

“The problems that these projects tackle come from many different angles. Some improve safety in extreme situations by giving emergency workers the ability to detect the presence of dangerous gases, or by helping to find unexploded munitions in war-torn areas. Others make improvements in transportation by working on transportation where infrastructure is poor, and looking toward the future of electric vehicle transportation. There are projects that tackle pollution through monitoring and also by scrubbing pollutants from indoor air. Improvements in wheelchair mobility and advancements in prosthetics can transform the lives of people living with loss of function. And feeding the world can start with more automated farming options, and becoming more efficient with farming methods. These are the problems the finalists have chosen to solve with their entries.”

Now, the pool of 100 semi-finalists has been narrowed down to 10 finalists who are one step closer to walking (or flying) away with the grand prize of a trip into space or $196,883. Plus, four others will claim top prizes each valued between $5,000-$10,000. These winners will all be revealed at the Hackaday SuperConference in San Francisco on November 14th and 15th.

And guess what? There’s a pretty good chance that this year’s winner will have Atmel inside… again. We can’t say that we’re too surprised either, as eight of the last 10 are embedded with AVR or Atmel | SMART MCUs. Here they are…

FarmBot

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This open source, automated precision farming machine and software package is designed for small-scale precision food production. Similar to 3D printers and CNC mills, FarmBot’s hardware employs linear guides in the X, Y, and Z directions that allow for tools, such as plows, seed injectors, watering nozzles and sensors, to be precisely positioned and used on the plants and soil. The unit itself is controlled by an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) + RAMPS stack and a Raspberry Pi 2.

Eye Controlled Wheelchair

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The Eyedrivomatic system takes advantage of existing eye tracking technology to enable those who have lost the use of their muscles to operate their own wheelchairs. The system is comprised of a wheelchair-mounted computer running an accompanying app and software, which is connected to a 3D-printed, Arduino Uno (ATmega328) brain box. This command center receives and inteprets the program’s requests and controls a pair of servos that drive an electronic hand to move a joystick in the user’s desired location.

Gas Sensor For Emergency Workers

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Designed primarily for emergency response workers, these ‘grenade-like’ sensors can be thrown into dangerous areas to remotely report levels using their voice. With an Arduino Nano (ATmega328) at its core, each ball-shaped gadget is equipped with smoke, liquified petroleum gas and carbon monoxide sensors along with an inexpensive 433MHz transmitter for communication with any basic radio inside the potentially hazardous space.

LUKA EV

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The problem that LUKA is attempting to solve is a big one. Mindful that internal combustion engine cars pump billions of tons of pollutants into the atmosphere each year, this group of Makers hopes to provide an open source platform that’ll unlock the possibility for cost-competitive, all-electric automobiles to be built and sold locally, on a global scale. This electric vehicle is capable of achieving top speeds of around 80mph and a range of over 185 miles. Although the concept of an EV is far from new, using hub motors to power it isn’t so ordinary. What’s more, this project will introduce a revolutionary technology to the production line, reducing weight and eliminating a great deal of unnecessary parts along the way. LUKA will also help in energy storage, as your home can power LUKA or vice versa.

Portable Environmental Sensor

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The uRADMonitor is able to detect pollutants in the air that otherwise go unnoticeable, ranging from toxic chemicals to radioactive dust or radon. Packed with an array of powerful sensors and an ATmega128, this handheld battery-operated device connects to the Internet via an embedded Wi-Fi module and shares readings to its global network. The online data is then used to build graph, track stats and send automated notifications when certain thresholds are reached.

Light Electric Utility Vehicle

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Transportation is major issue in the developing world due to its lacking physical infrastructure, and unfortunately, off-road SUVs are outside the means of the average person. In an effort to make them more accessible to everyone, this light electric utility vehicle is capable of battling harsh environments and rugged terrain. The basic design of the vehicle is made of locally sourced components, and features a frame that can rotate at the point of articulation so that all four wheels are in constant contact with the ground. Steering is accomplished by differential motor control, while each wheel is powered by a single PMDC geared motor via a chain drive. Power comes from two large tubular gel batteries which are charged by solar panels. System control is accomplished by two Arduino Pro Minis (ATmega328) — the first handles the motor controller, the other monitors the current.

OpenBionics

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OpenBionics is an open source initiative for the development of affordable, lightweight prosthetic hands that can be easily reproduced using off-the-shelf materials and rapid prototyping techniques such as 3D printing. The fingers are constructed out of Plexiglas with silicone knuckles that are flexed by tendon cables running in sheaths and extended by energy stored in elastomeric material along their dorsal aspects. Each finger can be selectively locked in place using a differential based on the whiffletree mechanism, resulting in 16 combinations of finger positions with only a single motor. Combined with nine unique thumb positions, 144 unique grasp are possible with the prosthetic hand. Meanwhile, electronics are provided by an embedded Arduino Pro Micro (ATmega32U4).

Vinduino

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Given the water crises affecting California, wine growers are in need of low-cost, customizable and easy-to-maintain soil moisture monitoring systems. As luck may have it, Vinduino is an accessible measurement tool for irrigation management that isn’t just ideal for cutting irrigation costs for vineyard owners, it can be just as useful for a wide range of other agricultural applications, science class experiments or even to reduce the H2O consumption of your backyard sprinklers. The system consists of moisture sensors, an Arduino handheld device for taking sensor readings, and a series of irrigation valves, water pressure sensors and data loggers for managing the irrigation system.

Congratulations to all of the 2015 Hackaday Prize finalists, especially those using our chips! As we await next month’s announcement, head over to the contest’s official writeup to see more.

Turn your kitchen toaster into a reflow soldering oven


Reflowster turns your standard toaster oven into an easy-to-use reflow soldering oven without breaking the bank.


If you recall from its successful Kickstarter campaign last year, Reflowster is an Arduino-compatible, ATmega32U4 powered smart outlet designed to instantly turn your toaster oven into a reflow soldering station.

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The system works by simply plugging in between your toaster oven and power outlet. An included thermocouple is inserted into the Reflowster and is placed inside the toaster oven to measure the temperature. From there, the toaster oven is put into “always on” mode which can typically be accomplished by dialing the timer back a few degrees.

“Reflowster does need to be paired with a toaster oven to work, but unlike many DIY solutions Reflowster requires no toaster modification — no need to cut cables or risk electrocution,” the team writes.

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Meanwhile, Reflowster’s encoder and LED display allows Makers to easily navigate menus and choose either a standard soldering profile or a custom option.

“Once the reflow process is started, Reflowster turns the power to the toaster oven on until a soak temperature is reached,” its creators explain. “Reflowster waits for the configured soak duration and then turns the oven back on until the peak temperature is reached.”

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Aside from the versatile ATmega32U4 MCU at its core, Reflowster is equipped with an LED status indicator, a three-digit LED display, a microUSB jack, a thermocouple port and a 15A relay-controlled outlet, along with the aformentioned encoder and button for menu navigation.

Being that Reflowster is fully compatible with the Arduino IDE, users can upload new code to repurpose Reflowster to do a wide range of other things. Indeed, the thermocouple, relay, LED display and encoder make the device a perfect platform for a variety of alternative projects such as a temperature controlled fan, circadian light timer, outlet with an automatic shutoff, easy bake oven, incubator and perhaps even a sous-vide machine.

Intrigued? Check out Reflowster’s official page here.