Tag Archives: development board

The Metro Mini is a tiny dev board powered by an ATmega328


The brainchild of Adafruit, Metro Mini is an easy-to-use, breadboard-friendy chip with USB-to-Serial built in.


Inspired by the countless years of tinkering around with AVR MCUs, Adafruit has unveiled a brand-spanking new, tiny development board for Makers. Dubbed Metro Mini, the breadboard-friendly, easy-to-use chip can be programmed with the Arduino IDE.

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Based on the versatile ATmega328, the Metro Mini packs 32KB of Flash, 2KB of RAM, a clock speed of 16Mhz and comes pre-loaded with the Optiboot bootloader. The slick black and gold unit includes 20 GPIO pins — six of which are analog as well and two reserved for the USB-Serial converter. What’s more, there is also total of six PWMs available on three timers.

“We sure love the ATmega328 here at Adafruit, and we use them a lot for our own projects. The processor has plenty of GPIO, analog inputs, hardware UART SPI and I2C, timers and PWM galore – just enough for most simple projects,” the Adafruit crew writes. “When we need to go small, we use a Pro Trinket 3V or 5V, but if you want to have USB-to-Serial built in, we reach for an Adafruit Metro Mini.”

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Another nice feature is that, measuring just 0.7″ x 1.7″ x 0.2″ in size, the Metro Mini is small enough to be implemented in a wide range of projects. In addition, the device boasts 5V on-board regulator with 150mA out and 3.3V 50mA available via its FTDI chip. Rounding out the beautifully-designed piece are a series of four indicator LEDs for easy debugging and hardware SPI, I2C and UART-to-USB ports.

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“The Metro Mini comes as a fully assembled and tested board, with bootloader burned in and also a stick of 0.1″ header,” Adafruit notes. “Some light soldering is required if you’d like to plug it into a breadboard, or you can solder wires or header directly to the breakout pads.”

Sound like a dev board for your next project? Head over to its official page here to get started. Looking for something just a little bit bigger? You can always try its larger sibling, the Metro.

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WifiDuino for the Internet of Things



Powered by Atmel’s versatile ATmega32U4 microcontroller (MCU), the open source WiFiDuino is a chip-sized development board that packs a 28×64 OLED display.

“We designed WifiDuino based on our belief in the future of the Internet of Things (IoT) when everything is connected. We will be living in a world when every object can communicate with each other using WiFi,” a WiFiDuino rep explained in a recent Indiegogo post.

“With WifiDuino, you no longer need to worry about getting a WiFi shield. [We] have done the hard part for you. It’s great for people who are tired of buying WiFi shields every time you want the board to be connected.”

Aside from Atmel’s ATmega32U4 MCU, key WiFIDuino specs and features include:

  • Supports Arduino IDE (Leonardo)
  • STA, AP, ADHOC network modes
  • Connects directly with smartphone
  • 20 digit I/O
  • 12 Analog I/O
  • UART, I2C, SPI
  • 5v power and I/O pin level

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

ATxmega128A1U powers OpenAudioPal

OpenAudioPal – which recently made its Kickstarter debut – is an open source audio DSP development platform loaded with a number of algorithms, including feedback prevention.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1472566256/openaudiopal?ref=discovery

According to Fred Pulver of Matrix Microsystems, the feedback prevention algorithm was originally developed to solve a microphone feedback problem in a high powered military hailing unit.

“The concept was transferred to a commercial concept and the OpenAudioPal was created with the thought that a open source development board would be a item of interest,” said Pulver.

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“While there are demonstration boards for various microprocessors and for various digital signal processors, the OpenAudioPal combines components for a developer to create a complete system.”

The OpenAudioPal is powered by an Atmel ATxmega128A1U microcontroller (MCU) paired with two Analog Devices ADAU1761 Sigma DSPs. Although the platform is equipped with two audio digital signal processors, only one is used in the feedback prevention application. Meanwhile, the ATxmega128A1U is tasked with switch sensing and control, as well as storing the signal processor software which it loads at startup.

“We used the Atmel ATJTAGICE3 to program the ATXMEGA128A1U and the EVAL-ADAU1761Z to develop the ADAU1761software,” Pulver added.

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“The EVAL-ADAU1761Z kit comes with a USB to I2C adapter that provides a communication link between SigmaStudio and a target board such as the OpenAudioPal.”

In terms of the enclosure, the OpenAudioPal is protected by a rubber outer boot and measures approximately 3″ x 5.7″ x 1.2″. A 9Volt battery provides approximately 50 hours under normal use.

Interested in learning more? You can check out OpenAudioPal’s official Kickstarter page here.

ATmega32u4 + Bluetooth = Blend Micro


RedBearLab has launched the Blend Micro, a mini development board targeted at the Internet of Things (IoT). Powered by Atmel’s popular ATmega32u4 microcontroller (MCU), the board is also equipped with a Bluetooth 4.0 Smart Energy chip.

Blend Micro is compatible with Nordic’s Bluetooth Smart SDK for Arduino, making software development easy via the official Arduino IDE.

So, how does the board work? 

According to the RedBearLab crew, the nRF8001 chip communicates with Atmel’s Atmega32u4 MCU via the ACI (Application Controller Interface). Although the ACI is similar to SPI, it does not actually function as SPI. Indeed, SPI consists of MOSI, MISO, SCK and SS, whereas ACI includes MOSI, MISO, SCK, REQN and RDYN.

“Since the nRF8001 chip may receive data anytime (even when not selected by SPI master) the SS line is not needed. For the ACI, data exchange [is routed] through MOSI and MISO, [while] SCK provides the clock generated by master,” a RedBearLab rep explained.

“When the master wants to request data from BLE Shield, it [shifts] the REQN to low until RDYN line is put to low by BLE Shield. The master then generates the clock to read out the data. After reading out the data, master will release the REQN and BLE Shield release the RDYN, putting them to high.”

The Blend Micro runs at 3.3V to reduce level shifting, since the nRF8001 chip only accepts 3.3V. As such, the onboard LDO converts 5V from the USB power source into 3.3V for the board.

“Normally, you should set Blend Micro to run at 8 MHz/3.3V. However, if you want to run faster and not concern about the reliability (we do not see any issue so far), you can run it as 16 MHz [for a] so-called ‘overclock,’ the rep added.

Interested in learning more? You can check out Blend Micro’s official page here.

SLDongle
 powered by Atmel’s 88PA

Simon Schoar wanted to offer his colleagues an opportunity to explore the fascinating world of microcontrollers (MCUs). So he came up with the idea to give his co-workers a specially designed Atmel-powered development board nicknamed “SLDongle” for Christmas.

Key components and specs include:

“The technically challenged can plug sld into their USB port and enjoy the beauty of the assembly. The LEDs light up and cycle through different animation sequences,” Schoar explained in a recent blog post. “The more experienced can remote control the LEDs from their USB host by piping data into sldtool (Linux/Mac). The initial delivery contained examples to visualize the CPU utilization (shell for Linux, C for Mac), but the team quickly came up with a nifty ruby solution, counting down the remaining minutes until the next train departs at the station nearby.”

And advanced users? Well, without the need of dedicated ISP hardware they can flash their own C or ASM software directly via USB. More specifically, holding the button while powering up allows sld to enumerate as USBasp, enabling the board to be flashed by avrdude or similar software.

Interested in learning more about the ATmega88PA-powered SLDongle? You can check out Simon Schoar’s blog post here, HackADay’s coverage here and Github here for the corresponding BoM, Eagle/Gerber files and source code.

Going beyond the IDE with Atmel

In today’s complex and feature-rich embedded world, a comprehensive microcontroller (MCU) software framework with an easy integration of software libraries and tools is becoming increasingly important for design teams.

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As Atmel’s Joerg Bertholdt notes, a truly integrated development platform comprises a combination of software and hardware – including the software framework and an app store.

“That is why Atmel offers the Xplained Pro evaluation kits, a development board and kit which works with Atmel’s IDE, software framework and Atmel Gallery,” the Director of Marketing, MCU Tools and Software, explained in recent Electronics Weekly article.

“The kits feature a range of professional ARM-Cortex-M4 based Atmel SAM4 microcontroller boards that are complemented by optional interface, display and prototyping boards. These boards are fully supported across Atmel Studio 6, Atmel Software Framework and Atmel Gallery, providing devs with immediate access to over 2,000 ready-to-run project examples.”

Simply put, Atmel’s comprehensive platform allows designers to more easily prototype and accelerate time to market.

“Moving beyond the traditional integrated development environment, the platform-based approach yields yet further developer productivity and efficiency,” Bertholdt continued.

“By combining the editor, compiler and debug functions with quick and easy access to a host of libraries, middleware and specialist tools the integrated development tools platform approach yields efficiencies across the whole design, development, test and prototype process.”

Bertholdt also discussed FreeRTOS, one of the real-time operating systems available in Atmel’s Gallery.

“By accessing FreeRTOs, designers can implement a hassle-free deployment in their application without having to worry about driver integration. Since this is integrated into ASF, it comes complete with a project configuration wizard and example projects to ease the application development process,” he added.

Interested in learning more about how going beyond the IDE with Atmel? Be sure to check out the full text of Joerg’s article here.