Tag Archives: MakerBot Industries

Getting back to basics with Atmel and the Maker movement

Upgrading or building a PC from scratch was certainly an adventure before the days of plug and play. Now I’m not saying you needed a soldering gun to upgrade your video card, although I did know plenty of people who would break one out at the drop of a hat (or screw), even if it wasn’t strictly necessary.

Still, there was plenty of blood, sweat, and yes, sometimes even tears if you wanted to install a new hard drive (go MFM!), memory, and in later years, a sound card paired with a 2x CD-ROM. Manually setting DMAs and IRQs was routine, and the same could be said for endlessly tweaking other BIOS settings. Make no mistake, building or upgrading a PC back in those days was somewhat time consuming, taking hours and sometimes days, especially if the new hardware was faulty or didn’t play nice with your older (or legacy) components.

Fast forward to 2013. I’m writing this article on a laptop which took all of 5 minutes to configure. Am I nostalgic for the old days? Why yes, yes, I am. And I say this without any hesitation whatsoever, even though there were many days when I pulled my hair out back in the 90’s because I couldn’t get the darn PC to work right.

I was just a young kid then, wanting to play the latest titles like Sim City, Monkey Island and Starflight II, so any delay in getting things up and running meant less gaming time, something I was desperate to avoid, even though I was playing on a massive VGA monitor that probably consumed as much power as the WOPR.

Despite all the rather obvious shortcomings of a time before plug and play, I really enjoyed building something from scratch, as well as working with both hardware and software on a more visceral level. Sound familiar? Well, it should, because that is exactly what today’s growing Maker Movement is all about – getting back to basics with electronic DIY components like Arduino boards which are powered by Atmel microcontrollers.

While it is practically impossible to list all the devices showcased at the recent Bay Area Maker Faire with Atmel silicon under the hood, a quick glance at the exhibitor list reveals a plethora of projects powered by our microcontrollers, including drones, electric vehicles, numerous robots and even mini space satellites.

On display at the Atmel booth was the Maker Bot 3D printer, the Puzzlebox Orbit, Marshmallow Crossbow, Hexbugs and Faraday bike – all fitted with Atmel MCUs. There are also a number of noteworthy Atmel-based hacks and mods we’ve highlighted on both the hardware and software side in recent weeks on Bits and Pieces, including the ShuttAVR, KLBasic, running a GUI window manager on the ATMega1284p microcontroller, the Uzebox and lots more.

So yes, I think it is pretty safe to say that the DIY Maker movement has come full circle in recent years and shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon – as technology becomes more and more accessible for the masses. We at Atmel are proud to be at the forefront of such a democratizing movement that will undoubtedly help shape the next generation of engineers, hackers, modders and do-it-yourselfers.

Atmel @ Maker Faire in Silicon Valley

The 2013 Silicon Valley Maker Faire kicked off today, with hackers, modders, makers and veteran DIYs showcasing their creations, many of which are powered by Atmel microcontrollers.


Atmel’s booth – #625 – is drawing large crowds, with entire families clustering around to see the MakerBot: Replicator 2 desktop 3D printer, the Open Source Internet of Things (OSIOT) exhibit, the Puzzlebox Pyramid, Marshmallow Crossbow, Hexbugs and Faraday bikes.


There are literally thousands of cool creations here at the show so stay tuned for more. In the meantime, enjoy the pictures below!









Hardware Innovation Workshop kicks off the run-up to Maker’s Faire

Maker’s Faire can probably best be described as the ultimate DIY electronics show. Held at the San Mateo County Fairgrounds, the event is a huge science fair for the general public, where Do-It-Yourselfers take center stage and roam around unleashed (usually on their segways), wearing propeller beanies and flashy LED pins.

Atmel will be attending the festivities, so be sure to check us out at booth #625 where we’ll have MakerBot demos and an “IoTorium” – an emporium of awesome Internet of Things devices. We’ll also be showcasing PuzzleBox’s brain-controlled helicopters, alongside the cool riders from Faraday Bikes, smart watches and hackable Hexbugs.

In the meantime, we thought you’d enjoy a quick rundown of the Hardware Innovation Workshop, which kicked off the Maker Fair festivities last night. A number of startups were on the premises showing off their impressive wares, including Spark Devices, Dash Robotics, Nano Satisfi and Lockitron.

The Spark Core is an Arduino-compatible, Wi-Fi enabled, cloud-powered development platform designed to simplify the development of Internet-connected hardware.


The device, which recently tipped up on Kickstarter, managed to hit its initial funding goal within 75 minutes and has thus far raised $276,420 – with 17 days to go.

Meanwhile, Dash is the world’s first foldable, programmable, origami robot that you can build yourself. Inspired by nature, the lightweight Dash runs like the world’s fastest animals and fits in the palm of your hand.


NanoSatisfi strives to offer affordable access to space exploration with the baseline ArduSat (Arduino – satellite). Essentially, Nano Satisfi is the first open platform allowing the general public to design and run their own space-based applications, games and experiments – all while steering onboard cameras and snapping pictures.


The baseline model of the satellite uses Arduino Nanos mounted on a custom PCB, although the NanoSatisfi crew is also eyeing the most recent Arduino models like Leonardo, Due and Megas.

And last, but certainly not least, the aptly named Lockitron allows users to secure their doors from anywhere in the world with their smartphones, while allowing instant access to be shared with family and friends via a two-button app.


Lockitron can be controlled by API endpoints, or programmed directly thanks to its Arduino-compatible ATMega microcontroller.