Earlier this week, Atmel expanded its low-power 8-bit tinyAVR family with the addition of the ATtiny441 and ATtiny841. According to Atmel’s Director of Flash-based MCUs Ingar Fredriksen, the 8-bit AVR microcontrollers are ideal for cost-effective consumer applications and a wide range of Maker projects.
Indeed, the new ATtiny 441/841 MCUs boast higher system integration with intuitive tools and peripherals to help facilitate optimized performance with lower power consumption. In addition, the ultra-low power 14-pin tinyAVR MCUs deliver enhanced analog and communication capabilities for an overall lower system cost in a smaller package.
As noted above, Atmel’s ATtiny MCU lineup is routinely tapped by both DIY Makers and professional engineers to power a wide range of projects. To be sure, quite a number of devices and platforms built around Atmel’s ATtiny have surfaced on Bits & Pieces in recent months including:
* The PC knock sensor – This project allows users to turn their PCs on and off with a simple knock sensor. The entire platform, costing the Maker a grand total of $10, is built around Atmel’s ATtiny45 MCU which emulates a PS/2 device.
* Halloween knock box – Powered by Atmel’s versatile ATtiny45 (or 85) microcontroller (MCU), the Halloween Knock Box box is fairly easy to put together. Additional key components include a piezo element (amplifier) for the knock sensor and a motor to provide the knocking feedback.
* Twinkling jack-o-lanterns – This project uses very few components: four slightly depleted AA batteries, a super bright LED, 680 ohm resistor and a little custom code set on an 8-pin Atmel ATtiny13.
* ATtiny85 ISP! – The open source ATtiny85 ISP! can probably best be described as a breakout prototyping board for Atmel’s ATtiny85/45/25 lineup. The ATtiny85 ISP! allows Makers to take advantage of the ATtiny85 chip’s potential, while using the familiar Arduino IDE and harnessing support from the Arduino community.
* Cuboino (Digital Cuboro) – This version of Cuboro is a tangible, digital extension of the classic marble puzzle game. Designed by Felix Heibeck of the University of Bremen, Cuboino is powered by Atmel’s versatile ATtiny85 MCU.
* ATtiny logic analyzer – The ATtiny2313-based logic analyzer is capable of capturing at 50+ kHz, more than enough for a PS/2 port. This project combines an Atmel MCU, breadboard and FTDI for unlimited-length logic capturing with a PC.
* 2D-Lux smart LED disk (SLEDD) – NliteN’s 2D-Lux Smart LED Disk (SLEDD) is a dimmable 60W-incandescent-replacement LED smart “bulb” equipped with an Atmel AVR microcontroller (ATtiny85), USB interface and hardware-expansion pins.
* Digital tic-tac-toe – Powered by the ATtiny85, this modern implementation of the classic game boasts an AI mechanism capable of making defending or winning moves against a human opponent.
* Long-term LED blinker – ATtiny10 runs an LED blinker for at least 6 months.
* Adafruit’s Gemma & Trinket – Uber-mini microcontroller boards built around the ATtiny85.
* Pressure sensitive floor – This ActiveFloor comprises a total of twenty-one 2′x4′ tiles, each one including 8 pressure-sensitive resistors and an ATtiny84-based platform.
* Chiptunes player – A tiny chip tunes player built around Atmel’s Attiny9.
* Duo Mini computer – A DIY computer powered by the ATtiny84.
* Nixie clock – This slick retro Nixie Clock is equipped with an ATtiny1634 MCU.
As previously discussed on Bits & Pieces, all tinyAVRs are based on the same architecture and compatible with other AVR devices. Features like integrated ADC, EEPROM memory and brownout detectors allow users to design applications without adding external components. The tinyAVR is also equipped with flash memory and on-chip debug for fast, secure, cost-effective in-circuit upgrades.
“The tinyAVR offers an advanced combination of miniaturization, processing power, analog performance and system-level integration. Simply put, the tinyAVR is the most compact device in the AVR family and the only device capable of operating at just 0.7V. And there’s nothing really tiny about that,” an Atmel engineer explained. “Plus, tinyAVR designs can be coupled with Atmel’s CryptoAuthentication tech for an extra level of security. The AVR CPU gives the tinyAVR devices the same high performance as our larger AVR devices. Flexible and versatile, they feature high code efficiency that lets them fit a broad range of applications.”
As expected, tinyAVR offers a high level of integration, with each pin boasting multiple uses as I/O, ADC and PWM. To be sure, even the reset pin can be reconfigured as an I/O pin. Oh, and yes, the tinyAVR also features a Universal Serial Interface (USI) which can be used as SPI, UART or TWI.
On the power side, where most microcontrollers require 1.8V or more to operate, the tinyAVR boosts the voltage from a single AA or AAA battery into a stable 3V supply to power an entire application. So if you do use tinyAVR tech in your next maker, hacked, modded or industrial project, be sure to check out our recently launched AVR Hero Contest! In the meantime, additional information about Atmel’s extensive tinyAVR lineup can be be found here.