Tag Archives: buttons

Designing a handheld game system with an ATMega328

A Maker named “randrews” recently created a handheld gaming system using a small LCD purchased from Adafruit, two custom PCBs, an ATMega328 microcontroller (MCU) and a number of buttons that function as de-facto control pads.

As HackADay’s Rick Osgood reports, Adafruit’s LCD display is a low-power sipper, making it a particularly good fit for the project.

After testing the screen, randrews kicked off the circuit design with Eagle.

“He hand routed all of the traces to avoid any weird issues that the auto router can sometimes cause. He made an efficient use of the space on the board by mounting the screen over top of the ATMega328 microcontroller (MCU) and other supporting components,” Osgood explained.

“The screen is designed to plug in and out of the socket, this way it can be removed to get to the chip. randrews needs to be able to reach the chip in order to reprogram it for different games.”

Once the initial board design was complete, randrews recruited his Shapeoko CNC mill to cut it out of a copper clad board. After milling it out, he used a small Dremel drill press to form all of the holes. 

On the power side, randrews designed a second, smaller PCB to fit 3V coin cell batteries and an on/off switch.

In terms of actual games, randrews says he will likely code a version of “Snake,” a popular title found on old Nokia phones.

Interested in learning more? You can check out the project’s official page here.

Reza Kazerounian talks IoT and MCUs (Part 2)

EEWeb recently conducted an interview with Reza Kazerounian, Senior VP and GM of the Microcontroller Business Unit at Atmel. In part one of our synopsis, we reviewed how Kazerounian defined the Internet of Things, detailed the company’s comprehensive IoT portfolio and discussed Atmel’s relationship with the rapidly growing DIY Maker Movement.

Kazerounian went on to confirm that Atmel is currently working with a number of customers to market various IoT applications.


“These customers range from smart metering, to industrial, consumer applications similar to Nest, [as well as] medical and white goods. Many of these customers have been working with Atmel for years and are in production with our technologies today,” he explained.

“With the dawn of the Internet of Things, these products are being categorized under a broader market—the IoT. An example includes connected thermostats in the home and building automation sector, [which] have [actually] been around for a while.”

However, says Kazerounian, it was not until recently that such devices were considered mainstream.

“It took mass adoption of smart tablets, smartphones and other smart consumer devices to enable more of these ‘connected’ devices to be easily accessible to the Internet and available at a cost-effective price point,” he added.

Indeed, “separate” technologies for IoT have been around for some time, but the requirements to seamlessly run numerous technologies simultaneously took longer to achieve.

“For example, connecting your smartphone at home to control your lighting is becoming a reality today. Another important factor for the IoT is wireless connectivity. These connectivity solutions operate on a number of different standards including Wi-Fi, ZigBee, Bluetooth, and others,” Reza continued.


“For IoT applications, it’s important to adopt the right wireless standard based on the application and consumer requirements. For example, if you want a device that is connected to a wireless network at home and can traffic the data with a high data rate, Wi-Fi is the most viable type of technology. For wearable devices, you would need a wireless connection with the lowest power consumption available since many of today’s wearable devices run on batteries.”

Kazerounian also noted that the IoT landscape is populated by applications with embedded processing and connectivity requirements that offer companies such as Atmel an advantage.

“[Indeed, we] made a recent investment in our connectivity portfolio over a year ago [by] acquiring Ozmo Devices, a Wi-Fi connectivity company. Adding to our broad wireless product portfolio, this strategic acquisition helped us enhance our Wi-Fi connectivity solutions, an important part of our strategy for targeting the IoT market,” he said.


“Atmel also has a broad portfolio of touch technologies, from capacitive touch buttons, sliders and wheels to touchscreens. As sensors and sensing nodes become an important part of the IoT ecosystem, our embedded processing solutions can combine input from multiple sensors to provide real-time direction, orientation and inclination data to bring visibly superior performance to gaming, navigation, augmented reality and more.”

Reza concluded his interview with EE Web by emphasizing that Atmel views microcontrollers (MCUs) as an essential building block for every PC, consumer device, industrial machine, home connectivity device and automobile. To be sure, MCUs are playing an increasingly critical role in the lucrative space.

“As the semiconductor industry has transitioned from PCs to mobile, IoT will now rise to become the predominant market,” Kazerounian explained. 

”This transition will favor ultra-low power and integration of microcontrollers, wireless connectivity, security, touch technologies and sensor management products. Atmel is uniquely positioned and fully committed to maintaining our leadership position in the microcontroller industry – and to do so requires winning in the IoT.”

Interested in learning more? You can check out Atmel’s AVR MCU portfolio here and our ARM lineup here.

Note: This is part two of a two-part series. Part one can be read here.

Video: Sprinkler 101 with Atmel’s Paul Rako

In the latest Atmel Edge episode, Analog Aficionado Paul Rako explains how digital buttons, sliders and wheels can be used to make popular sprinkler timers easier to use.

“We’re going to do a system-level redesign, going through this from block diagrams. Then come up with an alternate and then apply some technology that Atmel can help you with. Things like button, wheels and sliders, where you don’t need physical, discrete switches anymore,” said Rako

“I’m going start going through the programming. And that’s where I think, with a redesign and rethinking, and using some modern cool-person things like button sliders and wheels. There’s no physical button. It’s not expensive. You can put a thousand of these buttons on the same circuit board.”

As we’ve previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, Atmel offers market-proven technology for implementing nonmechanical buttons, sliders and wheels on any touch-sensitive device.

These integrated circuits (ICs) enhance the user experience with precision and reliability, while delivering optimized low-power characteristics, a critical requirement for today’s battery-powered handheld and mobile devices. 

The technology supports simple 1–10 button configurations as well as more complex scanned-matrix configurations of up to 48 buttons – at very low cost per button.

In addition to the application specific chips, Atmel offers the QTouch Suite for embedding buttons, sliders and wheels into AT91SAM and AVR micro controllers (MCUs).

Interested in leaning more about Atmel’s buttons, sliders and wheels? You can check out a full product breakdown here.

Atmel builds a world of touch for the IoT

It is rather difficult to imagine life without touch in an age characterized by the rapidly evolving Internet of Things (IoT). If you think about it, the digital world today seems centuries away from the 80’s when desktop PCs reigned supreme with limited input peripherals such as noisy clicking keyboards, wired mice, and cumbersome joysticks.

Photo Credit: Engelbert Reineke (Wikipedia)

Fast forward to 2013. Instead of PCs monopolizing entire desks and racking up huge electric bills, our world today is ruled by a plethora of touch-enabled mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Atmel CEO Steve Laub probably put it best when he told the Wall Street Transcript that touch is generally considered to be the preferred method for current-generation consumers to interface or interact with electronic devices.

“For the last three years, [Atmel has] been the world’s leading provider of mobile touch solutions, so our technology and products are changing the way people use and interact with electronic [devices],” Mr. Laub explained. “Our technology is also changing how they view the world and the ability to interact with the world.”

So let’s take a quick look at Atmel’s expansive touch portfolio. Our lineup of touch-based products is headed up by maXTouch microcontrollers – the direct culmination of touchscreen engineering efforts spanning more than 15 years. Our international team of engineers have produced an optimal and scalable capacitive touchscreen architecture virtually unrivaled when it comes to sensing a user’s input, whether on a tablet, smartphone, meter, control panel (both for industrial applications and consumer appliances) or inside a vehicle.

Unlimited-touch options facilitate a wide range of new possibilities for interface designers. By recognizing as many touches as people have fingers, the technology can support a variety of multitouch gestures anywhere on the surface. In addition, unlimited touch makes it possible for the device to detect and ignore unintended touches, such as the pressure of the user’s ear, cheek or hand grip.

The latest development is XSense touch sensors. These provide a highly flexible, high-performance alternative to traditional touch sensors – allowing engineers to develop light, sleek touch-based designs that are edgeless or wrap around an edge, have narrow borders, and boast curved surfaces. XSense is an exciting new extension of printable electronics, where a microscopic copper mesh provides better performance and clearer displays than legacy ITO (indium tin oxide) touch screens.

Lastly, Atmel’s buttons, sliders and wheels boast excellent precision and reliability on any touch-sensitive device, as the solution is designed to support simple configurations of 1 to10 buttons and scanned-matrix configurations of up to 48 buttons.

To sum it up, Atmel’s maXTouch family of touchscreen controllers offer superior performance and low-power consumption in a single integrated circuit. Our capacitive touch technology and algorithms, combined with an optimized and touch-sensing enabled Atmel AVR microcontroller, provide an unlimited number of touches, fast response time, stylus support and low power consumption.

These capabilities significantly enhance the consumer experience, changing the way the world interacts with electronic products. And best of all, it provides our customers with a leading edge, comprehensive multi-touch solution for a wide range of new applications in smartphones, tablets, notebooks, gaming consoles, GPS, POS terminals and multi-functional peripherals.

A sure touch with buttons, sliders and wheels

Yesterday, we discussed Atmel’s comprehensive QTouch Library, which makes it easier for developers to embed capacitive-touch button, slider and wheel functionality into general-purpose AT91SAM and AVR microcontroller (MCU) applications.

And today we’re going to take a closer look at Atmel’s touch portfolio by focusing on said buttons, sliders and wheels. To be sure, Atmel offers versatile tech for the implementation of buttons, sliders and wheels on any touch-sensitive device.

As an Atmel engineering rep told Bits & Pieces, these integrated circuits (ICs) enhance the user experience with excellent precision and reliability.

“They also deliver superb low-power characteristics, a critical requirement for today’s battery-powered handheld and mobile devices,” the engineering rep explained.

“The technology supports simple 1–10 button configurations as well as more complex scanned-matrix configurations of up to 48 buttons — at very low cost per button.”

Atmel also offers the above-mentioned QTouch Suite for embedding buttons, sliders, and wheels into the the AT91SAM and AVR microcontrollers.

Additional key specs? Long-range proximity sensing (enables capacitive proximity range over 10-inches), cutting-edge interfaces, design flexibility, low power consumption and robust operation.

Interested in learning more about what Atmel can offer you in terms of buttons, sliders and wheels?  Additional information can be found here.

QTouch Capacitive Touch Controllers Receive UL Certification

Atmel has achieved certification for the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) 60730-1, a standard for automatic electrical controls for household and similar use, for the AT42QT1244/5 and AT42QT1481 capacitive touch controllers. With UL certification, household appliance OEMs can achieve system-level certification faster for products that include touch displays and controls developed with these devices.

Atmel is the first company to receive a functional safety certification for the Class B and C requirements related to control functions for ICs with capacitive touch capabilities for button, slider and wheel functionality. Our AT42QT1244/5 and AT42QT1481 controllers are ideal for appliances including stovetops, microwave ovens, coffee makers, washers and dryers.