Tag Archives: studio 6

AVR XMEGA-A3BU Xplained demo board unboxing

So we cleaned out a storage area and lo and behold, there was an XMEGA Xplained demo board. So I scrounged up a USB cable and plugged it into my computer. I don’t have Studio 6 installed yet, but I thought it would be fun to just un-box it. This is what happened:


You can get your very own XMEGA Xplained eval board for on $29. The LCD alone is worth that.


What a score, the seals are still on the box. I think this was used in FAE training in May.


This is what is inside. There is that great LCD, a CR1225 battery for the real-time-clock (RTC), 3 tact switches and a touch switch, a temp sensor, a light sensor, all the signals on headers, and a JTAG port so you can hang a Dragon on it and see inside the chip while it executes. Sweet.


Here is a close-up. Oh, there is a non-volatile serial memory chip too. Needless to say, I have not read any manuals or paperwork yet, heck I am a man, like my buddy Tim who didn’t read the manual on his $60,000 Cadillac before he drove it to San Diego.


On the backside, you can see the 2010 date, but it turned out the board was way newer, stay tuned. You can see the flux residue where they hand-soldered the LCD. You can’t send an LCD through an IR reflow oven.


I stick a USB cable on it, and wow, it has a backlight on the LCD. It was obvious that the welcome screen here is telling you how to navigate the pre-installed program. That is not a touch-screen, it is telling you the tact switches and the one touch pad on bottom left are your navigation buttons.


Here is the screen with a flash picture—you can read the LCD either way. You can bet I am thinking how to mount this on my Harley and make a voltmeter/ammeter, temp sensor system out of it.


This is what you see if you press “Enter” (the top left button). It’s a sub-menu that displays the temperature, the light intensity, or the production date.


Here is the production date screen.


It took me a while to figure out that there was a touch-pad on the bottom left instead of a tact switch. This is how you go back up the menu tree.


Here is the temperature display. It seems pretty accurate, despite the board saying “NTC SENSOR”. I assume there is a linearization program, negative temperature coefficient sensors are notoriously non linear. This is reading hot since I put my finger on the sensor to see it work.


The top menu had more items and would scroll. This is the page for setting date and time. It was set to Norway time, but the date was right after 6 months.


This is a menu choice that shows how long the board has had its real-time clock powered.


When you stick in the USB the computer prompts you to add a driver. I don’t think that is a good idea. The way this is meant to be used is that you install Studio 6 or use some other IDE or the Atmel Software Framework (ASF) and that has the driver the card needs. So I cancelled. We have all been burned installing things on Windows.

Well this got me pretty fired up. It never occurred to me one of our demo boards would have such a nice program on it pre-loaded. I guess it’s time to install Studio 6. I have been avoiding it, since I am an assembly language dinosaur, and I am sure all this code is in C. After all that is one of the coolest things about AVRs, they were designed to run C and run it well.

In addition to installing our free Studio 6, I will hang a Dragon debugger/emulator onto the card. Thata is another cheap purchase from Atmel, about 50 bucks. There were a couple of those in the storage room too. With a Dragon I can see inside the chip as it runs, single step programs, and read the registers and memory locations.

ECO 1 (engineering change order). Let’s make that navigation screen show more representative symbols for the tact switches, and the touch pad. And let’s move the symbols to the outside corner of the screen, like they are on the PCB (printed circuit board).

ECO 2. Lets add a menu pick to read analog voltages—hang on—holy cow, this thing not only has two 12-bit ADCs, it has 4 comparators. I can see there is a lot to love. And get this—6, count ‘em, 6 USARTs. That will satisfy my buddy Dave who insists on one dedicated UART just for software debug. Sure you can use the debugger when it is hooked to Studio 6 or your IDE, but it is also nice to have a port you can query or that spits out status when the system is deployed in production.

Stay tuned, I will be hooking up one of those Dragons and installing Studio 6 next. Just remember the first rule, never keep a handgun in the same desk you have a computer on. I do expect to be frustrated, it’s been 12 years since I programmed in assembly, and never have used C, but let’s take this little adventure together and see what happens.

Building a three-phase PMSM sensorless FOC with Atmel

A three-phase Permanent Magnet Synchronous Motor (PMSM) sensorless FOC (Field Oriented Control) is typically found in a number of home appliances such as washing machines, dishwashers, dryers, refrigerators, air conditioners and pumps.


Key design considerations for a three-phase PMSM sensorless FOC include power efficient and acoustically quiet motor operation to meet governmental efficiency standards, low BOM cost and a compact, scalable FOC form factor.

“And that is precisely why Atmel’s XMEGA AVR (D or E series), coupled with our AVR1636 reference design, offers developers versatile integration capabilities along with comprehensive application support – facilitating FOC implementation that allows power efficient and acoustically quiet motor control application,” an Atmel engineering rep told Bits & Pieces.

“More specifically, there are three 16-bit timer/counters with up to four output compare or input capture channels, a high-resolution extension and advanced waveform extension (AWeX), an 8-channel Event System which allows peripherals to directly send, receive and react to synchronous or asynchronous events in a short, guaranteed response time.”

Additional integrated features include a feature-rich 300KS/s 12bit ADC with programmable gain amplifier up to 64x – with temperature, supply voltage and reference inputs; EEPROM for configuration parameters storage; two USART, one SPI and one I2C Serial Interfaces for system communication.

In terms of software and application support, Atmel offers AVR1636 reference design hardware; a firmware and PC configuration utility; AVR1610 pre-certified Class B library and design guide; Atmel Studio 6; Atmel Software Framework; Atmel Gallery; and free software libraries of production-ready source code.

Interested in learning more about building a three-phase PMSM sensorless FOC with Atmel’s AVR XMEGA? Be sure to check out some of the links below.

Building XMEGA-based energy harvesting RF sensor nodes

An energy harvesting RF sensor node is a device powered by various environmental means including solar, thermal (heat/cold) and even vibration. RF sensor nodes are typically used to monitor environmental changes such as temperature, pressure and ambient light – with data transmitted via RF to a host for remote sensing and control.


Energy harvesting RF sensor nodes are routinely deployed by manufacturers of building automation, climate control, access control and other self-powered sensor networks. Key design considerations include ultra-low power and low operating voltage, the (potential) expansion of such technology into a broader range of applications and high precision analog peripherals.

The following Atmel components can be used to design an energy harvesting RF sensor node that meets the above-mentioned industry requirements: Atmel’s ATxmega D or E series, AT86RF231/232/233 RF transceiver and AT30TSE Serial EEPROM with temperature sensor.

“Atmel’s AVR XMEGA D/E series and 86RF23x series offer low power consumption and true 1.62V operation, addressing the key design requirements for energy harvesting RF sensor nodes,” an Atmel engineering rep told Bits & Pieces. “Atmel’s XMEGA D/E series also boasts true 1.62V-3.6V operation, 5 sleep modes with fast wake up time, < 1uA in Power Save mode (RTC), 190uA/MHz at 1.8V in active mode, along with an Event system and Peripheral DMA Controller to further offload CPU activity.”

Atmel’s 86RF23x series is also capable of maintaining a sleep current consumption of < 20nA, along with a current consumption as low as 6.0mA RX and 13.8mA TX. As expected, the 86RF23x series is supported by Atmel’s complete line of IEEE 802.15.4-compliant protocols for low power applications: IPv6/6LoWPAN, ZigBee, 802.15.4 MAC and lightweight mesh network stack.

On the software and development side, engineers designing XMEGA-based energy harvesting RF sensor nodes can take full advantage of Studio 6 and Atmel Software Framework (ASF), ASF high-level drivers for sensors and wireless interfaces, as well as Atmel’s comprehensive portfolio of Xplained kits.

Interested in learning more about building XMEGA-based energy harvesting RF sensor nodes? Be sure to check out some of the links below:

Wayne Yamaguchi talks burning fuses and setting lock bits in source

I had lunch with my pal Wayne Yamaguchi last week, who has several products he makes based on Atmel AVR parts. Wayne mentioned that he has found products where someone has forgotten to burn the fuse and lock bits, and he could read the code inside the part. He admits that it is easy to get confused if you are switching between developing some code for one project and then burning some chips for products that are shipping. You have to click down a few menus to insure the bits get set. Instead he says that he puts the instructions to set the fuse and lock bits in his source code, and then he can program the parts with the .ELF file which will set the bits in the parts.


Here is Wayne Yamaguchi (left) and my crack protégé Francis Lau exchanging numbers. Frances was showing Wayne his FreedomPop piggyback phone that lets him make free calls. We all worked together in a startup 12 years ago.

So Wayne dropped me a note and said:

 Here’s some info on embedding fuse settings in the source code.

 #include <avr/fuse.h>

#include <avr/lock.h>
//    .low = (unsigned char)(FUSE_CKDIV8 & FUSE_SUT0 & FUSE_CKSEL3 &
//    .low = (unsigned char)(FUSE_CKDIV8 & FUSE_SUT0 & FUSE_SUT1  &
     .low = LFUSE_DEFAULT,
     .high = HFUSE_DEFAULT,
//    .high = (unsigned char)(FUSE_BODLEVEL0 & FUSE_SPIEN),
     .extended = EFUSE_DEFAULT,

To extract the fuse/lock bits from the elf file.  From the command prompt type the following.
avr-objdump -s -j .fuse <ELF file>
avr-objdump -s -j .lock <ELF file>

You should be able to find more info from winavr documentation.  It took me forever to find it.  Like I mentioned I use the .ELF file to program the part which includes the fuse and lock bit settings.

If you are like Wayne and in a mixed design and manufacturing small business environment, you too might prefer to put the fuse and lock bit instructions in your source code. Give it try and let us know what you think.

Xplained is the new Butterfly board

I was in a startup in 2001 when I first designed in Atmel products. One of the big enticements of Atmel was the really cheap demo board. Back then they called it a Butterfly board and it cost $49. Now we have things like our Xplained series evaluation kits. They are still low-cost, and they they can give you a big head-start in getting code written for your next project.

ATmega256RFR2 _Xplained_ProPROTO1_Xplained_Pro

The Atmel starter guide gives some great advice on how to become instantly productive with AVR and ARM parts.

  1. Download and install Studio 6
  2. Check out some examples of similar things
  3. Buy an in-circuit debugger– $49 Dragon, or $99 JTAG ICE, or the $599 AVR ONE!
  4. Buy an eval kit, a starter kit,  a touch kit, a wireless kit, an evaluation kit, or a reference design.

This is the great thing about Atmel, for a really low cost you can have some hardware up and running. I plan on digging out my old Atmel projects and open-sourcing them for the community. Stay tuned to the Atmel Bits and Pieces.

Praise the Lord!!! A New Sub-1GHz RF Transceiver Supporting 4 Major Regional Frequency Bands

Your prayers have been answered!  Atmel has just released its 2nd generation Sub1GHz IEEE 802.15.4-compliant RF transceiver, the Atmel® AT86RF212B.  Not only does it work in Europe (863-870MHz) and North America (902-928MHz), like some of the sub-1GHz RF transceivers you see in the market today, it also works in China and Japan compatible with the 779-787MHz and 915-930MHz regional frequency bands, respectively.  


The device is a feature-rich, extremely low power Sub1GHz RF transceiver designed for industrial and consumer ZigBee/IEEE 802.15.4, IPv6/6LoWPAN and high data rate Sub1GHz ISM band applications. The RF transceiver offers a true SPI-to-antenna solution, integrating all RF-critical components, except the antenna, crystal and decoupling capacitors.

It is designed specifically for these applications in mind:

  • Lighting control
  • Gas and water meters
  • Thermostats
  • Environmental monitoring
  • Remotes
  • Toys
  • Doorphones
  • Proprietary wireless systems up to 1000kb/s

To help with your design and prototyping needs, we have a slew of software and hardware tools at your disposal, such as the Wireless Composer for providing a performance analyzer application and contains easy-to-understand displays to configure, command, and monitor information coming from the performance test application running on the target, which is available through the Atmel Gallery app store (available in Studio 6).  Additionally, we also offer the Atmel BitCloud® ZigBee® PRO stack, the Atmel IEEE 802.15.4 MAC, and the Atmel Lightweight Mesh software stack

From the H/W side, we offer an evaluation kit that is shipped preprogrammed with the Atmel Radio Performance Analyzer application for easy evaluation of the RF transceiver’s key features and performance.

AT86RF212B eval kit

Please stay tuned on upcoming posts about why sub-1GHz is preferred over 2.4GHz in some designs and tips/tricks on how to use the Wireless Composer.

The Atmel Xplained platform is going Pro

By: Eirik Slettahjell – Sr. Development Engineer Atmel

Having been on the team that created the new Atmel® Xplained Pro platform,  let me share some more details about these new boards and the platform we are providing. Xplained Pro is the result of Atmel’s engineers aiming to make life easier for designers working with Atmel MCUs. In other words: designed by engineers for engineers:

“The work of engineers forms the link between scientific discoveries and their subsequent applications to human needs and quality of life.”1


SAM4L Xplained Pro MCU board

The Atmel Xplained Pro platform provides the full Atmel microcontroller experience, combining hardware and software. It equips you, the engineer, with a smart platform that makes it easy to excel with the complete application prototype up and running an hour after your boss discusses a new product idea. We want the Atmel Xplained Pro platform to inspire and enable new ground breaking designs and applications.

SAM4L Xplained Pro MCU board details

SAM4L Xplained Pro MCU board details

“How is this possible?”

Atmel Xplained Pro platform is capable of being a product prototype. With the evaluation kits, Atmel Studio and Atmel Software Framework you can put together the complete application prototype – really fast.

Start Atmel Studio and connect the Xplained Pro kit to your computer. You will discover the kit and its capabilities since Atmel Studio knows exactly which Atmel Xplained Pro evaluation kit you connected and what extensions are plugged into the kit. Download applications examples or software building blocks from Atmel Software Framework and build the prototype.

You also get direct access to datasheets and board documentation by connecting your kit to your computer.

Thanks to the embedded debugger, Xplained Pro are easy to use, yet provide powerful debugging capabilities.

You do not have to connect any external debugger or programmer. With only a USB cable connected to your computer you get:

  • Device program and debug with all the same capabilities as Atmel’s standard programmers and debuggers
  • Data Gateway Interface (DGI) for enhanced application data streaming and debug through standard interfaces
  • Virtual COM port (USB CDC) to easily allow printf-style debug and data logging directly into Atmel Studio

The Xplained Pro platform has been designed for flexibility. A standard Xplained Pro header makes it easy for anyone to design extension boards that connect to the Xplained Pro evaluation kits. Available boards can be found here, including IO, prototyping, OLED and segment LCD extension boards.

If you can’t wait for the extension that you want – just make your own.  The Extension Developer’s Kit (XDK) gives you a design guide that tells you everything you need to create an Xplained Pro extension board.

Xplained Pro Extension boards

Xplained Pro Extension boards

The Xplained Pro offering will continuously expand, covering the latest MCUs and technology available. More information about boards and kits is available on Atmel’s web site and can be purchased from one of Atmel’s distributors or at store.atmel.com.


1. Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor (2006). “Engineers”. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2006-07 Edition. Retrieved 2006-09-21.

New Hardware Kits for Evaluating and Prototyping with Flash Microcontrollers

You now have a new tool available to evaluate, prototype and develop with Atmel® Flash microcontrollers. The new Atmel Xplained Pro hardware kits are easy to use, extensible and low in cost. With an Xplained Pro kit it only takes minutes to run your first program on the microcontroller. Just connect the kit to your PC with a USB cable and the Atmel Studio 6.1 integrated development platform immediately recognizes the boards. , Click a button to program the MCU with a ready-made application example based on Atmel Software Framework and you are set to execute and single step through the first lines of C code.

Need additional software tools?  Just download extensions for the Studio 6 IDP from the Atmel Gallery online apps store.

Need additional hardware?  The Xplained Pro boards are standardized designs of microcontroller boards, with extension boards providing additional capabilities like displays or breadboarding. With this combination, you can create a system to evaluate new Atmel AVR® and ARM® processor-based devices in the context of your targeted applications.

The following boards are now available:

  • SAM4L Xplained Pro
    • Cortex-M4 based Atmel SAM4L4 MCU with 256kB Flash
    • SAM4S Xplained Pro
      • Cortex-M4 based Atmel SAM4SD32 MCU with 2MB Flash
      • ATMEGA256RFR2 Xplained Pro
        • Segment LCD1 Xplained Pro extension board
        • OLED1 Xplained Pro extension board
        • IO1 Xplained Pro extension board
        • PROTO1 Xplained Pro extension board

These boards are available in the following kits:

  • Evaluation kits, providing the MCU boards, priced at $39
  • Starter kits, providing a bundle of a MCU board and extension boards, priced at $99 and up
  • Extension kits, providing single extension boards

You can buy Xplained Pro kits through your Atmel distributor or online at store.atmel.com.

When you want to decide if the Atmel MCU is the right fit for your design, Xplained Pro kits are the fastest and easiest way for evaluation, prototyping and development.