Tag Archives: GPIO/PWM

The robotic troika of Atmel summer interns in Trondheim

Troika: A Russian word for a group of three, and also a pretty good Norwegian chocolate bar.

It’s a safe assumption that most of us have had some sort of experience with summer jobs throughout our years as students. It’s also quite likely that some of us remember these jobs as full of sweat and manual work at a construction site, on a farm or in some kind of warehouse; however, not all summer jobs have to be this way. Today, I received a piece of mail from some of the summer interns at Atmel Trondheim, and from the sounds of it, they have some pretty cool things going on!

The Line Follower

A line follower is a machine equipped with some sort of light-sensitive sensors that follows a line — either a black line on a white surface or vica versa.


“This project utilizes two Light Dependent Resistors (LDRs) to detect the amount of reflected light from two Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs). The chassis is made of cardboard and the whole robot is made without any soldering. The idea behind this robot was to introduce some intelligence to a robot in an easy and inexpensive way,” explains Magne Normann, one of the summer interns at Atmel.

The Avoidance Robot

This is an obstacle avoidance-type robot based around the Atmel Abot. All that’s required to build this kind of robot is a platform, two motors/servos, some wires and a distance sensor. However, this particular project has got an additional servo. The ultrasonic sensor is mounted on a servo in front of the robot, and as the servo rotates, the sensor measures the distances in its envorionment and uses this information to choose a path between any obstacles.


The Atmel Tank

Have you ever seen one of those USB rocket launchers and wondered if they’re hackable? Well, they are.

“We got our hands on a USB missile launcher, disassembled it, did a reversed engineering and modified it. Then we added Bluetooth connectivity, put it on an Atmel Abot and made an app for it. The app does have both one and two-player modes; one player controls both the vehicle and the turret, and two-player mode where one player controls the car, while another controls the turret,” Magne shares.  


“Up until now the only way to interface with an USB rocket launcher had been through the complicated USB protocol. Unfortunately not many microcontrollers support this feature. We therefore decided to hack the rocket launcher down to the old school way, so we could control it with simple GPIOs. We opened the launcher up and discovered the unused footprint for a microcontroller. Apparently, initial design was based on using a microcontroller, but somewhere along the way someone decided to go with a die instead. This left the microcontroller pads unused and available for us to use. All we had to do was probe the signals for each command, disconnect the die from the circuit paths and solder our own wires to the microcontroller pads. This way we could use the existing H-bridges and switches without any additional hardware required.”

Magne notes that the tank is currently bringing havoc to the Atmel department located at Tiller, Norway. Interested in seeing it for yourself? The tank will be on display, along with several other Atmel-based projects, at Maker Faire Trondheim scheduled for August 29-30th. Maker Faire attendees will also have the opportunity to compete for the title of Maker Faire’s “Best Tank Commander.”




Simply AVR: 8-bit ideas with Atmel

Vegard Wollan, co-inventor of AVR microcontroller (MCU) architecture, says AVR “was born from the combination of advanced computer science coupled with proven Flash memory manufacturing techniques.”

Indeed, AVR architecture offers both engineers and Makers robust performance, low power, high-speed, connectivity and easy system integration. Based on a single-cycle RISC engine that deftly combines a rich instruction set, AVR MCUs are capable of delivering close to 1 MIPS (Million Instructions Per Second) per megahertz – as they are optimized for minimum code size and maximum computing performance.

Perhaps most importantly, Atmel makes it possible to create smaller footprint designs, as our AVR MCUs offer a high level of integration with on-chip Flash, SRAM, EEPROM, pull-up resistors, precision oscillator, watchdog timer, brownout detector and GPIO/PWM (pulse-width modulation) pins for application use. Advanced on-chip analog capabilities include an internal temperature sensor, analog comparators, multiple 10-bit and 12-bit ADC (analog-to-digital converter) input channels and a programmable-gain analog amplifier.

On the low power side, Atmel has developed picoPower technology, which enables AVR microcontrollers to reduce power consumption in both sleep and active mode, thereby achieving the industry’s lowest power consumption with 500nA @ 1.8V with RTC running and 100nA with full SRAM retention.

In terms of software, AVR MCUs are designed with ease of use in mind, from peripherals to datasheets to tools. To be sure, we offer a high-quality, easy-to-use tool chain for the full range of our AVR families. Available for free, Atmel Studio enables code development in C or Assembly by providing cycle-accurate simulation – and integrating seamlessly with AVR starter kits, programmers, debuggers, evaluation kits and reference designs.

This makes AVR microcontrollers ideal for a broad range of applications including industrial control, ZigBee and RF, medical and utility metering, communication gateways, sensor control, white goods and portable battery-powered products. Last, but certainly not least, both Makers and developers can benefit from a robust community following of over 300,000 engineers, with AVR Freaks offering a centralized location where participants frequently interact with each other in various AVR MCU forums.