Tag Archives: IDE

Atmel Studio 7 is now live!


Atmel Studio 7 accelerates MCU designs for both developers and Makers alike, bridging the gap between the MakerSpace and MarketPlace.


For those who may have attended the recent World Maker Faire in New York, this announcement should come as no surprise. However, if you were unable to get to the New York Hall of Science to swing by the Atmel booth or sit in on one of our panel discussions over the weekend, we’ve got some great news. The highly anticipated Atmel Studio 7 is now live!

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Atmel Studio is a comprehensive, free integrated development environment (IDE) for microcontroller design using both Atmel | SMART ARM-based and AVR MCUs. What’s more, we are also excited to be launching Atmel START — a new, extremely intuitive graphical platform for creating and configuring embedded applications that allow developers to build custom software platforms.

Due to increased complexity and more demanding requirements, embedded developers are turning to IDEs to deliver more intelligence, performance and ease-of-use. Based on the latest Microsoft Visual Studio Shell, Atmel Studio 7 dramatically reduces overall design time by delivering significant performance enhancements for developing and debugging with a simple user interface, improved responsiveness for consumer, industrial and Maker markets, and much more. Plus, the brand-spankin’ new IDE provides real-time application data and power visualization to better optimize application performance and power utilization.

Ideal for the Maker community, the IDE lets Arduino developers quickly port their sketches created in the Arduino environment as C++ projects, and seamlessly migrate their prototypes into the professional Studio 7 environment. This will further streamline a Maker’s ability to help migrate their projects from ‘the MakerSpace to MarketPlace.’

Given the rise of the Internet of Things market and the projected billions of devices to follow, high quality, well integrated embedded software is key to enable designers to devise robust, smart solutions based on today’s connectivity and security standards. Cognizant of this, we are pleased to launch Atmel START which is a web-based tool that helps developers easily integrate basic software building blocks and focus on their own applications rather than having to deal with the headache of configuration and integration.

“Atmel Studio 7 IDE and Atmel START extend our commitment to bridge the gap between the Maker and professional environments, accelerating time-to-market for developers of all levels,” says Steve Pancoast, Atmel Vice President of Applications, Software and Tools. “Our new, innovative development tools and software provide Atmel’s customers with solutions for embedded system designs in low power and wireless communications such as our power visualizer and Atmel START. We are committed to bringing the best tools to market, enabling developers of all levels — from professionals to students, hobbyists and Makers — to get their projects quickly to market.”

Atmel START gives software developers the ability to graphically select software components and configure them for Atmel’s large family of evaluation boards or for their own custom hardware. Developers can build software platforms consisting of low-level drivers, advanced middleware, Real Time Operating Systems (RTOS), high-level communication stacks and more, as well as download the configured software package into their own IDE and make their application.

Atmel START supports graphical configuring of pin-muxes, along with clock trees, and the configured software package can be downloaded for a variety of supported development environments, such as Atmel Studio 7, IAR Embedded Workbench and Keil µVision. In addition to all that, the tool is entirely web-based so no installation is required before you get started — and the downloaded code will always be up-to-date.

“The Atmel START platform makes it easy for developers to get projects off the ground quickly and obtain the most benefit from working with ARM Keil MDK tools,” adds Reinhard Keil, ARM Director of Microcontroller Tools. “By using CMSIS, Atmel has once again proven the value of creating a platform built on a standards-based approach. Atmel START creates a robust and portable software management system that makes it easy for developers to deploy applications in any environment.”

Interested? Atmel Studio 7 is free of charge and is integrated with the Atmel Software Framework (ASF) — a large library of free source code with 1,600 project examples. Those wishing to get started with the IDE can head over to its official page here, as well as explore Atmel START in more depth by downloading the latest white paper on the platform.

VIPER is a cross-platform Python IoT design suite


VIPER is a smart object development suite that brings cloud and IoT connectivity to your projects with just a click of the mouse.


New York City-based startup ThingsOnInternet has launched a Kickstarter campaign for their new easy-to-use development suite for interactive Internet of Things (IoT) designs. As its name implies, VIPER — or “Viper Is Python Embedded in Real-time” — makes it possible for Makers and embedded designers to create their next connected project in Python for Arduino, UDOO and Spark, all in in real-time. And, unlike other solutions that already exist today, this collection of products is platform-agnostic and compatible with all sensors and kits.

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The idea was first conceived after conducting some detailed market analysis, where the company discovered that designers, Makers and programmers all faced a similar set of challenges. In hopes of simplifying how “things” are brought onto the Internet, VIPER converged a series of components to better streamline the process. This included an IDE to manage and program the boards, a Virtual Machine to serve as its operating system, a plug-and-play TOI Shield, an extensive library of ready-to-use functions, and a mobile app to act as the interface for smart objects. On top of that, it’s also cloud-ready. With just a little coding, users can develop a wide-range of IoT applications, ranging from interactive storefronts, to home and industrial automation systems, to art and museum installations, to smart farming.

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“Designers aim to create behaviors that can co-exist at the same time and they are often frustrated by ‘anomalous’ and unexpected results on their projects. Makers, who have higher competences, invest a lot of time in understanding how to code multithreaded behaviors, how to manage interrupts in C++, etc. and sometimes their code become really hard to be maintained. Programmers are frustrated by executing ‘boring’ tasks for their customers, one of them is related (again) to multithread, interrupts, callbacks, timers and exceptions,” ThingsOnInternet writes.

Since millions of developers already know Python, VIPER decided to make the programming language readily accessible for commercial interactive products as well, therefore amplifying the potential for smart objects to be as pervasive as mobile devices in their ease of design interactivity. To do this, VIPER provides a browser-based, minimal-installation development environment where users can write code with extensive library support and have it executed on any Arduino-like board. What’s great for designers is that, with VIPER, it leaves them able to focus on the features and functionality, not the tediousness, along with a mobile app to control their creation for free.

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“Devices like Arduino, UDOO, ST Nucleo, Spark Core, Photon and the last released Spark Electron are microcontroller boards that revolutionized the world of amateur and semiprofessional electronics. They allowed hundreds of thousands of people around the world to give objects a new life by making them interactive, able to communicate and interact with humans,” the team explains. “Unfortunately, programming them is quite easy for engineers and computer scientists, while most of the users are able to exploit only part of the huge potential of such incredible boards. Here comes the idea of TOI to extend the world of smart and interactive object design to everyone. VIPER allows in a few clicks to convert a common lamp in a smart assistant that reminds us to take the umbrella, turn on the air conditioning while monitoring the house for intrusions.”

In order to use the suite, Makers and developers simply download a one-time package from the company’s website onto either their PC or USB stick. Beyond that, VIPER includes an embedded, portable Python 3.0 engine to help make everything as easy as can be. Users can then launch the VIPER IDE and begin making. All that’s left from there is connecting its accompanying mobile app to serve as the UI for the project.

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VIPER runs on an Arduino Due (SAM3X8E), and can even be ported onto the recently-revealed Atmel | SMART Cortex-M7 family. As its creators reveal, code developed on an Arduino Due can also be implemented onto these new MCUs in a matter of two clicks. Furthermore, the suite features an Arduino and Spark Proton-compatible, plug-and-play TOI shield. Simply attach either a Due or Photon to the shield and start playing with any of the VIPER examples found in its library. (This collection of modules includes CC3000 Wi-Fi for Spark Core and Adafruit Shield, Adafruit/Sparkfun Thermal Printer, Adafruit NeoPixel LED, RTTTL smart melody player, Streams library, as well as TCP and UDP network protocols.) Aux ports are even included, enabling the use of other sensors like Grove, ThinkerKit, Phidgets, and Adafruit NeoPixel LED strips.

Through its IDE, users can ‘viperize’ theirs boards by installing them using the VIPER Virtual Machine. Once completed, a board is no longer a simple Arduino Due, Spark Photon or UDOO; instead, it has a multi-threaded, real-time operating system running on it, and a virtual machine ready to execute compiled Python 3 scripts. Ready to design your next smart project? You can head over to its official website, or check out the team’s recent successfully-funded Kickstarter campaign here.

Designing an Arduino-based programmable load

A programmable load is defined as a type of test equipment or instrument tasked with emulating DC or AC resistance loads normally required to perform functional tests of batteries, power supplies or solar cells.

According to Wikipedia, the platform allows tests such as load regulation, battery discharge curve measurement and transient tests to be fully automated – while load changes for these tests can be made without introducing switching transient that might alter the measurement or operation of the power source under test.

Recently, a Maker by the name of Jasper designed an Arduino-based programmable electric load using an Atmel-powered Nano (ATmega328 MCU).

“The load can be programmed, and the voltage and current are measured. You can set a constant current (CC), a constant power (CP), or a constant resistance (CR) load by simply typing it in to the Arduino Serial Monitor,” Jasper explained in a detailed blog post.

“The circuit is designed for up to 30V, 5A, and 15W. An opamp, a mosfet, and a small sense resistor form the constant current circuit. The current is set using a DAC. Two other opamps measure the power supply voltage and the current. The circuit is powered from the Arduino USB voltage.”

Aside from the Atmel-based Arduino Nano, key project components include:

  • Custom designed PCB ($23)
  • 2x 15pins 0.1″ pitch female header connectors ($2)
  • AD8608 Rail-to-rail opamps ($3)
  • MCP4725 DAC ($3)
  • IRLZ44Z N-channel MOSFET ($2)
  • SK 129 38mm Heat sink ($1)
  • 0603 resistors and capacitors ($2)
  • Screw terminal ($1)

“I chose to use an Arduino Nano board because it is small, cheap, easily interchangeable, it has a power supply that can be used to supply other circuits, and it can easily be programmed with the Arduino IDE,” Jasper continued.

“The Arduino is placed on female header connectors on the board. I chose to use the same DAC as on Adafruit and Sparkfun DAC breakout boards. The DAC can be supplied from 5V and the the output voltage is rail-to-rail. A description for using the MCP4725 DAC and library with Arduino can be found here on the Adafruit website. The DAC connects to the Arduino using I2C.”

On the software side, Jasper uses the the Arduino Serial Monitor to set the mode and value.

“For example, you can type ‘cc100’ to set a 100mA current, ‘cp1000’ to set a 1000mW power, and ‘cr100’ to set a 100 Ohm resistance. In overload condition, when the nominal power supply voltage drops, the CC circuit tries to maintain the current. This leads to an even further voltage drop and finally in a short circuit. In CP mode, the Arduino measures the voltage and adjusts the current so that the power remains constant,” he added.

“This is handy for testing power supplies designed to deliver a constant power. In CR mode, the Arduino measures the voltage and adjusts the current so that the resistance remains constant. This is handy if you want to simulate a resistor connected to the power supply – especially if you don’t have a box of power resistors of all kinds of values.”

Interested in learning more? You can check out Jasper’s Electric Load here.

Open Electronics talks Adafruit’s FLORA (ATmega32u4)

Writing about wearable technology for Open Electronics, Alessio Biancalana highlights Adafruit’s FLORA, a popular platform powered by Atmel’s versatile Atmega32u4 microcontroller (MCU).

“Adafruit released more than 100 tutorials and over 25 libraries for the Arduino IDE, so they [ultimately] decided to produce their own wearable platform. The cool aspect about FLORA is that this tiny [platform] is fully compatible with Arduino, so no matter the operating system you will immediately be able to bootstrap your wearable startup,” Alessio explains.

“If you have the Arduino IDE installed on your computer, and if you know how to develop software for the original Arduino – and this is awesome, because as you know in an open ecosystem the knowledge reuse is on of the most important things.”

As Biancalana points out, FLORA boasts an on-board regulator, making the platform extremely beginner friendly.

“[It also] has four LEDs: power good, digital signal LED for bootloader feedback, data rx/tx. If we are power users, we can reprogram it all thanks to a ICSP controller; we have 14 sewing tap pads for electrical connections and attachments,” he says.

“[Makers] can expand [the] board to create even more powerful wearables, or maintain easy access to the controller so [it] can be hacked in many ways, growing a strong community around [the] hardware.”

Interested in learning more about Adafruit’s Atmel-powered FLORA? You can check out the platform’s official page on Adafruit here, read about Becky Stern’s “Make: Getting Started with Adafruit FLORA” here and browse our FLORA project archives here.

ATxmega Wolverine board controls light and sound



Powered by Atmel’s ATxmega128A3U microcontroller (MCU), the Wolverine is a programmable light, sound and motion controller board.

“[Simply] plug it into your computer (via the micro USB port), write some code (in C/C++) using the Arduino IDE and upload it,” Wolverine creator Shawn Swift wrote in a recent Indiegogo post.

“Then you can attach a constant-current LED driver (no resistors needed that way), or an LCD/OLED display, and maybe a servo controller or a sensor (for example, an accelerometer) using the SPI and I2C ports, place some sound effects (in 44khz mono or stereo .WAV format) on a microSD card, connect an amplifier to the line out, attach a power source (which can be 4 AA batteries or a LiPo – the board accepts a wide range of input voltages), and then connect some buttons or switches, a potentiometer, or even a keypad to the DIGITAL and ANALOG ports.”

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

  • 8K of RAM and 128K of flash memory.
  • Programmable via microUSB using Arduino IDE or Atmel Studio.
  • PDI port for advanced programming/debugging in Atmel Studio.
  • MicroSD slot with support for SD and SDHC cards up to 32 GB.
  • Stereo line-out via 3.5mm jack or adjacent pads.
  • 5V 3A buck regulator supplies power to 3.3V regulator, LED  and servos.
  • 3.3V linear regulator provides low noise supply for MCU, MicroSD and audio circuitry, with plenty of power to spare (over 800mA typically) for I2C and SPI devices.
  • Power connector is rated for 3A continuous current and has reverse voltage and short protection via the combination of a PFET and PTC fuse.
  • 16MHz crystal on board provides a stable reference for the system clock, while leaving the internal resonator free for USB communications.
  • PWM port features four NFETs rated for up to 3A continuous current.

So, what can Wolverine be used for? Well, according to Swift, the board is the perfect choice for helping to make costume props come to life.

“For example, let’s say you have a toy Star Wars blaster. With the addition of the Wolverine, a tiny amplifier, a speaker or two, a switch for the trigger, a button to select modes, a 3W RGB LED and a little paint, you’ve got yourself the makings of a high end prop that’s sure to impress,” he explained.

“In fact, the precursor to this board, which I designed a couple years ago after a successful crowdfunding campaign on Kickstarter, is currently being used by over a hundred fans of the movie Ghostbusters. Of course, there’s always room for improvement, so with this campaign I’m launching version 2.0 of my Proton Pack Kit. My Ghost Trap kit will finally be making it’s debut as well.”

Interested in learning more about the Atmel-powered Wolverine? You can check out the project’s official Indiegogo page here.

Reactor Core is an AVR programmer

The Reactor Core – which recently surfaced on Kickstarter – is a hardware programming platform for Arduino boards and stand-alone AVR-based microcontrollers (MCUs). 

Designed by Frank Fox, the Reactor Core is powered by Atmel’s ATmega328P MCU and an FT232R for USB to serial communication.

“The Arduino IDE has a fantastic option of directly programming microcontrollers using ISP [and] we included a ATmega328P (equivalent to an Arduino Uno board) on the programmer,” Fox explained.

“This allows you to program compatible blank ATmega microcontrollers with the Arduino bootloader. Once the bootloader is installed, then they are ready for use with the Arduino software. You can then switch back to the USB/serial connection to upload your sketches.”

The Reactor Core also includes an integrated ZIF socket for a number of Atmel’s ATtiny chips.

“To make  programming easier, we built in a ZIF socket. You setup the Reactor Core as an ISP, place your ATtiny chip in the ZIF socket, select the type of chip in the Board option, upload the sketch and then remove to install into your circuit,” said Fox.

“With the ZIF we will have support for both the ATtiny84 and ATtiny85. Using the ISP header you can connect to other compatible microcontrollers.”

As Fox notes, Makers can use the platform to self-replicate the bootloader to a blank microcontroller, thereby creating a cloned MCU.

“We think of this process like the chain reaction in a nuclear power plant. Once the first reaction happens, additional reactions are triggered. You can have dozens of projects all powered by the microcontrollers you programmed yourself. The Reactor Core is a device to empower you to make more reactions happen,” he added.

“The Reactor Core is also a way to simplify your life. Instead of having an Arduino, a programmer shield and a USB to serial converter, you only need the Reactor Core for all of these processes. This way if your Arduino is tied up on a project, you can still prototype another.”

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

Building a Mini 7-Segment Clock (V2)



Kevin Rye recently re-designed his already impressive Mini 7-Segment Clock using an SMD version (instead of 28-pin DIP) of the ATmega328 microcontroller (MCU) and a custom PCB.

“I moved the switches a little off-center to the right and shuffled everything else around in order to fit the SMD ATmega,” Rye explained in a recent blog post.

“I rotated the ATmega 45 degrees. I think chips look cooler when they’re rotated, but in all seriousness, it is easier to run a trace from one side of the board to the far side of the chip when it’s rotated.”

Rye also moved most of the (PCB) text from the front to the back. However, with the exception of the ICP and FTDI headers, the board layout remained the same.

 After receiving his new PCBs, Rye decided to kick off a limited test of his new design.

“I didn’t want to put the whole thing together and find out that it didn’t work, [so] I decided to only solder in the ATmega, the 16MHz crystal, and the supporting caps and resistors – just enough so I could test loading the bootloader onto the ATmega and upload a sketch,” said Rye.

“I configured my Arduino Uno (ATmega328) as an ISP and attached the Mini Clock’s 6-pin ICP header to the Arduino via a ribbon cable and some jumpers. I then jumped into the Arduino IDE and burned the bootloader for an Uno.”

After successfully running the bootloader, Rye connected the FTDI adapter and uploaded the blink sketch, jamming an LED into the PCB and watching the LED blink. Last, but certainly not least, Rye validated the ICP and FTDI functions and soldered in the rest of the components.

Interested in learning more about version two of Kevin’s Mini 7-Segment Clock? You can check out his detailed project blog post here and download the source files here.