A recent Electronics Weekly article penned by Chris Sullivan of Premier Farnell confirms that development kits such as Atmel’s stalwart STK600 are becoming more and more popular outside of the professional engineer’s workspace.
“Development kits have expanded in terms of their function and range of application, as well as their price point,” Sullivan explained. “Many manufacturers are now developing lower cost base boards and allowing users to choose which type of product or additional functionality they need by adding on accessory boards that are designed to ‘plug’ into the baseboard.”
So let’s take a closer look at Atmel’s trusty STK600. This versatile kit development system for 8-bit and 32-bit AVR microcontrollers (MCU) boasts advanced features for prototyping, allowing engineers and Makers to quickly begin developing AVR-based products.
“The AVR device connects to the STK600 using a routing and socketcard sandwich system which routes the signals from the device to the appropriate hardware,” an Atmel engineering rep told Bits & Pieces. “The system consists of a generic socketcard, on which the AVR device is inserted, and a device specific signal routing card, which routes the signals from the socket pins to the different functions on the STK600 main board dependent on the device.”
According to the engineering rep, this design significantly simplifies hardware setup when switching from one AVR device to another, since all connections from the device to the motherboard are determined by the routing card – a custom board for each device.
“Meaning, the routing system is purely passive; no electronic components route the signals, so all I/O pins are directly accessible on the connectors with no altering of the electrical behavior,” the engineering rep continued.
In addition, the kit offers access to all device pins, along with several useful hardware functions such as pushbuttons, LEDs, and dataflash to create a complete system for prototyping and testing new designs. Plus, free AVR Studio/AVR32 Studio allows devs and Makers to write and compile firmware in either Assembly or C (downloading the code to the target AVR device).
Last, but certainly not least, the board is equipped with an adjustable voltage supply and adjustable clock. As such, the VCC level and clock frequency can be adjusted on the fly from AVR Studio/AVR32 Studio, offering users the ability to test the performance at different voltage levels and clock frequencies with just the click of a button.
Interested? The STK600 can be ordered from Atmel’s official store here.