Tag Archives: SAMD21

Tiny Arcade is the world’s smallest arcade cabinet


Tiny Arcade lets you relive the golden age of video games with an arcade cabinet that fits in the palm of your hand.  


The golden age of arcade video games spanned from the late 1970s to the mid-1990s. During that time period, these machines became fixtures in ice cream shops, bowling alleys and bars throughout the world. However, it wasn’t before long that this form of entertainment suffered a decrease in popularity with the advent of home-based gaming consoles.

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Truth be told, there’s nothing quite like the experience of playing a game in an arcade. And so, Ken Burns and the Tiny Circuits team decided to relive those glory days by shrinking a cabinet down to just a few inches tall.

The aptly named Tiny Arcade lets you play a number of retro-inspired games, each of which can be downloaded completely free online. Its creators hope to have over 20 classics available when the unit begins to ship, and being open source, you’ll be able to develop and release your own as well. What’s more, the palm-sized device allows you to convert any MP4 movie using a free utility to the TinyScreen format, put them on a microSD card, plug it in and then watch your video at 30 FPS with sound.

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The gadget is based on the TinyScreen+ — an Arduino-compatible board that features an ATSAMD21G18A 32-bit MCU, built-in USB for charging and reprogramming, and an OLED screen all crammed into a package no larger than a quarter. Aside from that, there’s an analog joystick and two push buttons for playing the games, an integrated speaker for audio, a 140mAh lithium battery, and a microSD expansion slot.

“Even though the Tiny Arcade is built around the Arduino platform, don’t worry if you’re not a programmer. There is no need to download any special software or do any soldering with the Tiny Arcade, you can use it without any special knowledge,” Burns explains. “The Tiny Arcade can load games on the fly off a microSD card, a menu is provided at power up that shows a preview of all of the games available on the microSD card, choose one and it gets loaded in a second and you’re playing away. No need to reprogram the Tiny Arcade over USB.”

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Tiny Arcade comes in two forms: either fully-assembled or in a DIY kit. The latter can be easily built in a matter of 10 minutes — no soldering or special tools necessary. The circuit boards snap together, while its acrylic or 3D-printed enclosure can be assembled like a jigsaw puzzle. There’s also a basswood case, which unlike the others, will need to be glued.

Those wishing to decorate their cabinets can do so with the two sheets of stickers included with each kit. Just peel them off and affix them to your Tiny Arcade, or print your own artwork for a more personal touch. You can even paint your own designs on the basswood model.

Ready for a retro arcade cabinet right in the palm of hand? Head over to Tiny Arcade’s Kickstarter campaign, where the Tiny Circuits crew is currently seeking $25,000. Delivery is expected to get underway in March 2016.

The OwnWatch is a Arduino-compatible smartwatch


Maker creates a fully hackable, Arduino-compatible smartwatch based on the Atmel | SMART SAM D21. 


Moritz Wenzel has emerged once again, this time with the latest iteration of his Arduino-compatible, software and hardware expandable DIY smartwatch. An upgrade of his earlier device, Tardis, the OwnWatch is completely hackable and enables Makers to connect their Arduino projects with both the wearable itself along with its paired smartphone via Bluetooth.

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“Currently, every company on the market [has] built their own smartwatch, nice small devices that makes your life a little bit easier and more comfortable. But for a Maker, a hacker, a hobbyist or a nerd who loves hackable devices and creating own projects, these ‘boring’ smartwatches are no real alternative,” Wenzel explains.

For the OwnWatch, the Maker improved upon Tardis’ original housing and its hardware, most notably by replacing its ATmega32U4 core with an Atmel | SMART SAM D21 Cortex-M0+ MCU and providing additional BLE support thanks to a new dual mode Bluetooth module. Aside from that, the wearable is packed with a plethora of sensors, including a gyroscope and accelerometer, three temperature sensors, a pressure sensor and an ambient light sensor.

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Meanwhile, power is supplied by a 180mAh LiPo battery, and audio can be emitted through its built-in speaker or a set of headphones. OwnWatch is equipped with two tactile buttons that allow a wearer to navigate through the main menu and switch between various functions like the time, calculator, image viewer and settings, as well as return to the home screen. A pair of programmable indicator LEDs can also be found on its frontside.

Intrigued? Follow along with the Maker’s progress on his project page here.

Secure your Raspberry Pi and Linux applications with ZymKey


ZymKey makes it easy to secure your IoT applications and manage them in the real world.


More times than not, developers are faced with two bad options: either deliver a substandard product quickly, or reinvent the wheel and miss the market altogether. Luckily, one Santa Barbara-based startup has come up with a solution, not just a band-aid but a true fix to the all too common conundrum. Introducing ZymKey, a tiny, low-cost piece of hardware for authenticating and encrypting data between Internet of Things devices.

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The key integrates silicon and software into a simple, ready-to-go package that will automatically work with Raspberry Pi and other Linux gadgets. What’s nice is that the ZymKey integrates seamlessly with Zymbit’s existing IoT platform, which includes Zymbit.Connect software, the Zymbit.City community and the Zymbit.Orange secure IoT motherboard that was on display back at Maker Faire Bay Area. Together, Zymbit enables IoT professional developers and Makers innovate faster with the confidence of data security and integrity.

“The Internet of Things will reach its full potential when real people like you and I begin to connect our devices and share data streams,” explained Zymbit CEO Phil Strong. “Then we can work together to solve real problems that impact our everyday lives. Funding our Kickstarter campaign is not just about building the ZymKey, it’s about enabling an entire community of people to collaborate around secure data streams and ideas.”

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Ideally, Zymbit will make it easy to not only collect but to share data in a trusted manner. The platform embraces open technologies and gives people the freedom to innovate quickly without having to compromise security or performance. Aside from that, the so-called Zymbit.City will serve as a forum for those with common interests to collaborate on ideas powered by such verified and authenticated information.

ZymKey works by attaching to IoT Linux platforms like the Raspberry Pi. When combined with Zymbit’s Linux APIs, it offers true authentication and cryptographic services of remote devices, as well as a real-time clock and accelerometer to timestamp security events and detect physical tampering, respectively. For its Kickstarter launch, ZymKey is available in two versions: a header-mounted crypto key for the RPi and a USB stick that plugs into the port of a Linux board, including BeagleBone, UDOO and Dragon.

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For the RPi model, the low-profile hardware attaches directly to the Pi’s expansion header while still allowing Pi-Plates to be added on top. Lightweight firmware drivers run on the RPi core interface with software services through Zymbit.Connect. Meanwhile, the USB version adds more functionality and is usable on any Linux unit with a USB host.

“Great security has to be designed end to end. From silicon to software, from point of manufacture through end-of-life. ZymKey brings all this together and makes it easy to manage your applications and devices out in the real world, without compromising security,” the team explains. “ZymKey integrates speciality silicon with firmware drivers on the host device and the corresponding software services in the cloud. The result is a robust and secure communication workflow that meets some of the highest standards in the industry.”

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Both ZymKeys are embedded with an ATECC508A CryptoAuthentication IC for bolstered security, while the USB version also features an Atmel | SAM D21 Cortex-M0+ core. Once connected to the Zymbit platform, you will have the unprecedented ability to transparently manage all of your remote devices from a single console — upgrade over the air, configure admin rights, and so much more. Additionally, you will be able to publish, subscribe and visualize secure data. Each ZymKey comes pre-packed with dashboard widget that make it simple to customize and share with others.

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So whether you’re connecting one Linux gizmo in your garage to a public forum or have tens of thousands of Raspberry Pis deployed throughout the world, ZymKey seems to be an excellent option for everyone. Interested? Head over to its Kickstarter page, where the Zymbit team is seeking $15,000. Delivery is slated for December 2015.

DECKO is an LED watch that bares its parts on a circuit board face


This 60-LED watch may be the geekiest timepiece ever. And we love it.


Aside from the pocket protector, the wristwatch has become a staple for any true geek. And we’re not just talking about any ordinary wrist-adorned device, it has to be unique — the dorkier, the better. So whether you’re a businessman, an athlete or an engineer, anyone looking to show off their geekery will surely love the latest creation from Terminus Electronics: a wearable that displays time using LEDs rather than the typical pair of rotating hands or digits.

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Dubbed DECKO, the half-dollar-sized watch reveals the time by animating 60 LEDs on a circuit board face. Admittedly, it is as basic of a “smartwatch” as they come with only a few features like motion and tap detection for wake-up, and light sensing for auto-brightness. Unlike most of its teched-out counterparts, however, the device boasts a low profile and can last for six to 12 months on a single coin-cell battery.

In order to tell time, the hour winds from 12 o’clock around to the current hour, while the minute hand animates in place after the hour hand stops. This allows both the hour and minute to be distinguishable even when they overlap.

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The low-power timepiece sleeps to save power when not in use, and wakes up when put into the usual horizontal viewing position. The watch can also be turned on and off by double-tapping the side of its case.

Time set mode is accessed with a quadruple tap of the watch, while a subsequent tap is required to start the process. This will cause the minute hand to begin rolling like a marble around the clock. From there, the time can be adjusted by simply rolling your wrist forward or backwards, and locked in by holding it steady.

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An interesting feature of the DECKO is that it not only shows the time but how its embedded electronics work. Based on an Atmel | SMART SAM D21 MCU (which could be found the center of the face), the watch packs a 32 kHz crystal oscillator to keep time, an accelerometer to detect orientation and movement, and a light sensor to measure ambient light. The electronics are soldered to the board and housed inside a rugged metal case that is available in aluminum (black or silver) and brass.

What’s more, the wearable is water-resistant and fully customizable. The case fits standard 18mm NATO and ZULU straps, enabling you to mix and match various styles — ranging from steampunk for Maker Faire to patriotic for 4th of July celebrations. DECKO is available in a caseless version as well, which gives Makers the choice of designing their own enclosure for the inner PCB face.

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Does this look like a watch you’d love to have? Head over to DECKO’s Kickstarter page, where the team is currently seeking $60,000. The first batch of devices is slated to begin shipping in November 2015.

Exploring Atmel’s new microcontrollers, IoT and wearables

More and more companies, regardless of their vertical, are trying to get closer to their customers and see various aspects of the internet of things (IoT) as the way to do so. For a good example, here is Salesforce Wear Developer Pack which, as they say:

..is a collection of open-source starter apps that let you quickly design and build wearable apps that connect to the Salesforce1 Platform. Millions of wearable devices connected to the cloud will create amazing new application opportunities.

Since Salesforce.com cuts across all industries this has potential impact in many different market segments.

And, the wearable devices that they list are Google Glass, Android Wear, Samsung Gear Watch, Myo Armband, Nymi Bionym, Pebble Watch, Jawbone UP, Epson Moverio, Vuzix Smart Glasses, Oculus Rift, Meta Glasses.

This combination brings home that the internet of things isn’t just about the things, it is about connecting the things back to the cloud so that the data generated can be aggregated where it has much greater value.

I am sure that people will design SoCs for various aspects of IoT, but even if they do I think it will be in old processes, not even 28nm, so they can integrate sensors and analog and wireless on the same chip. But more likely a lot of these will be small boards with microcontrollers, wireless and sensors on different chips. For example, take a look at the iFixit teardown of the Fitbit, which in its current incarnation is about one inch by quarter of an inch.

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An important aspect of doing this sort of design is having enough microcontrollers with the right combination of features. You can’t afford to have twice as much flash as you need or too many unused functions. The Atmel microcontroller product finder shows that at present they have 506 different ones to choose from.

The most recent two are SAMA5D4, and SAMD21 which are specifically targeted towards wearables and IoT projects. These are the latest two products in the Atmel SAM D family.

One area of especial concern in this market is security since it is too dangerous to simply try and do everything in software on the microcontroller. Keys can be stolen. Software can be compromised if it is in external RAM. An area of particular security concern is to make sure that any JTAG debug port is secure or it can be used to compromise almost anything on the chip.

So what are these chips?

The SAMA5D4 is an ARM Cortex-A5 device with a 720p hardware video decoder. It has high security with on-the-fly capability to run encrypted code straight out of external memory, tamper detection, secret key storage in hardware, hardware private and public key cryptography and ARM TrustZone. It supports both 16 and 32 bit memory interfaces for maximum flexibility. It is targeted at applications that require displays, such as home and industrial automation, vending machines, elevator displays with ads, or surveillance camera playback.

The SAMD21 is the latest Atmel microcontroller based on the ARM Cortex-M0+ but in addition to the features on earlier cores it also has:

  • Full speed USB device and embedded host
  • DMA
  • Enhanced timer/counters for high end PWM in Lighting and motor control – I2S
  • Increased I2C speed to 3.4Mbit/S
  • Fractional PLL for audio streaming

As you can deduce from the feature set it is target at medium end industrial and consumer applications, possibly involving audio and high power management.

And, to show that this sort of market is starting to become real, at the salesforce Dreamforce event earlier in the week a keynote was given by will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas (and a founder of Beats that Apple recently acquired). In a chat with Marc Benoiff, CEO of Salesforce.com, he has already leaked that he will introduced a wearable wrist computer that doesn’t require a phone to piggy-back on (unlike the Apple Watch).

Watch the chat:

Looking for more information on the SAMA5D4It can be found here.

This post has been republished with permission from SemiWiki.com, where Paul McLellan is a featured blogger. It first appeared there on October 17, 2014.

HackADay talks Arduino Zero with Atmel’s Bob Martin

On May 15, Arduino and Atmel debuted the long-awaited Zero. The 32-bit development board packs Atmel’s versatile SAMD21 microcontroller (MCU), which is built around ARM’s Cortex M0+ core.

Key hardware specs include 256kb of flash, 32kb SRAM in a TQFP package and compatibility with 3.3V shields that conform to the Arduino R3 layout.

 The Arduino Zero board also boasts flexible peripherals along with Atmel’s Embedded Debugger (EDBG) – facilitating a full debug interface on the SAMD21 without the need for supplemental hardware.

In addition, EDBG supports a virtual COM port that can be used for device programming and traditional Arduino bootloader functionality.

During Maker Faire Bay Area 2014, the HackADay crew had the opportunity to go hands on with the new board, discussing the Zero with Atmel’s very own Bob Martin.

“There are two USB connectors; one let you access the board as a device or a host while the other connects the debugging hardware. If you’ve never used an On Chip Debugger before it’ll change your life so do give it a try,” writes HackADay’s Mike Szczys.

“When you do move past the initial prototyping phase of your project you can still use the Zero as a debugging tool. There’s an unpopulated 10-pin header (not sure if the small pitch header comes with it or not) which can be used to interface with a target board. Bob also spent some time talking about the configurable 6-pin header which allows you to choose from a range of hardware protocols (SPI, TWI, etc.)”

Interested in learning more about the Atmel-powered Arduino Zero? You can check out the development board’s official page here.

Atmel @ Maker Faire Day 0 (sneak peek)

Atmel is getting ready to take center stage at Maker Faire Bay Area 2014 in San Mateo on May 17th and 18th.

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Our team is currently setting up booth #205, where we’ll be showcasing a wide range of Maker projects, platforms and devices, including the new Arduino Zero which is powered by Atmel’s ARM-based SAMD21 microcontroller (MCU).

So, what else can you find in booth #205?

  • Wearable electronics and cosplay
  • MicroView
  • ProtoSnap Pro-Mini
  • Red Boards
  • FuzzBots
  • Phonear
  • Touch Boards
  • Hexabugs
  • uToT ‘bots
  • 3D printers
… And more!

Maker Faire Bay Area 2014 will kick off at the San Mateo Event Center in San Mateo, CA, on Saturday, May 17, from 10am to 8pm and Sunday, May 18, from 10am to 6pm.

Tickets can be purchased on-site at Maker Faire Bay Area 2014 on May 17 and 18, 2014 ($25.00 – $40.00 for a full day pass).

Can’t make it to the Faire? You can follow @Atmel live on Twitter for event updates, or join the conversation by tweeting #AtmelMakes.