Tag Archives: Video

Video: Atmel demos QTouch tech at Computex

Atmel’s comprehensive QTouch Library makes it simple for developers to embed capacitive-touch button, slider, and wheel functionality into a wide range of microcontroller applications.

The royalty-free QTouch Library provides several library files for each device, supporting various numbers of touch channels – enabling both flexibility and efficiency in touch applications.

Simply put, by selecting the library file supporting the exact number of channels needed, developers can achieve a more compact and efficient code using less RAM.

Earlier this week at Computex 2014, Atmel staff engineer Paul Kastnes demonstrated the integration of QTouch solutions with low-power consumption, using ARM Cortex-M0+ microcontrollers and sensor engines.

In addition, Atmel senior manager Dr. John Logan showcased how mobile applications can be customized using customized sensors, exhibited by a modified SAM D20 ARM Cortex-M0 microcontroller and an accelerometer gyroscope.

Interested in learning more? You can check out Atmel’s official QTouch page here and Atmel’s SAM D lineup here.

Video: Tangible Orchestra plays for the masses

Tangible Orchestra – which was recently featured on the official Arduino blog – combines electronic and classical music in a three-dimensional space.

 Designed by Rebecca Gischel and Sebastian Walter, the installation is equipped with 112 ultrasonic sensors controlled by a single Atmel-based Arduino Mega (ATmega1280 MCU).

“Human interaction within Tangible Orchestra is made possible by 16 ultrasonic sensors on the inside of each cylinder, granting a 360 degree field of view. The sensors are run by one integrated microprocessor per cylinder, evaluating and comparing the readings of all sensors making very accurate assessments,” Gischel and Walker explained.

“To avoid interference between ultra sonic waves of different cylinders, the microprocessors run consecutively rather than simultaneously. All microprocessors are controlled, assessed and coordinated by one Arduino Mega.”

On the software side, Processing is used to communicate with Arduino and the microprocessors in each cylinder.

“It is programmed to coordinate the microprocessors, so that their sensors cast their rays consecutively as with 112 ultrasonic sensors operating at the same time, there would be a substantial risk of interference and acoustic shadow misreading. It also assesses the data coming from Arduino and, after verification, generates the output,” the duo continued.

“If a person detected within the bubble of a cylinder, Processing receives the digital information as an input from Arduino and stops muting the respective instrument which then joins into the melody. Processing also reads the values of each instrumental track to calculate the digital signals for the LEDs and controls the LED stripes inside of the cylinder.”

According to Gischel and Walter, each instrument is played by a separate speaker located in the base of each cylinder – with multiple sound outputs enabled via several external sound cards paired with the minim library by Damien Di Fede.

“When an instrument plays, the beats of the audible track are analyzed and consequently values are calculated to create an equalizer-like light beam,” the two concluded.

”The outcome is transferred via Arduino to a transformer, which converts the 5V Arduino signal into an 230V output operating 192 LEDs per cylinder. Another transformer converts 5V Arduino signals into 12V output powering LED stripes inside of each cylinder as soon as they are activated.”

Interested in learning more? You can check out the the project’s official page here.

Video: Mel Li talks robotic exoskeletons

Cyberpunk films and novels are often set in post-industrial dystopias characterized by extraordinary cultural ferment and the use of technology in ways never anticipated by its original creators.

As William Gibson noted in Burning Chrome, “the street finds its own uses for things.” Although Gibson wrote those words way back in 1981, they more than aptly describe the cyberpunk build designed by Maker Mel Li, Ph.D that was showcased at Atmel’s 2014 Bay Area Maker Faire booth.

According to Mel, the Costume is an original design inspired by the cyberpunk/fantasy genre work of artists including Masumune Shirow, Eric Canete, Joe Benitez and various modern gaming concept art.

More specifically, the assembly is made from over 60 parts designed in Solidworks and sewn/cut/glued/laser-cut/heat-formed using various techniques.

The rather impressive costume includes color changing LEDs on the spine and front that are controlled by Arduino boards with Atmel AVR and ARM microcontrollers and onboard RGB controllers (respectively) – powered by 16 AA batteries, 1 LiPo rechargeable battery, two 2032 coin cells and one 9-volt battery.

In total, says Mel, there are more than 70 LEDs on the entire costume and over 60 parts.

Video: Debugging with Atmel-ICE

In the latest episode of Atmel Edge, Analog Aficionado Paul Rako discusses our newest debugger, the Atmel-ICE.

As Rako notes, the Atmel-ICE is a powerful development tool for debugging and programming Atmel ARM Cortex-M based Atmel SAM and AVR microcontrollers.

Key features include:

  • Support for JTAG, SWD, PDI, TPI, aWire, SPI and debugWIRE interfaces
  • Full source-level debugging in Atmel Studio
Support for all built-in hardware breakpoints in the target microcontroller (number depends on the OCD module in the target)
Up to 128 software breakpoints
  • 1.62 to 5.5V target operation
  • USB powered
  • Offers both ARM Cortex Debug Connector (10-pin) pin-out and AVR JTAG connector pin-out


Atmel-ICE is currently available from the official Atmel store for $85 here.

Video: Diving under the sea with a DIY ROV

Doug and Kay are currently building an underwater ROV capable of diving 3,000 below the waves, maneuvering on the ocean floor and relaying video as well as side-scan sonar signals back to the surface.

As HackADay’s Brian Benchoff notes, the duo continues to document the entire build process on YouTube, with the first video depicting the construction of a pressure vessel.

“For communication with the surface everything is passing over a single Cat5 cable. They’re using an Ethernet extender that uses a twisted wire pair to bring Ethernet to the ocean bottom,” Benchoff explained.

“With that, a few IP webcams relay video up to the ship and a simple [Atmel-based] Arduino setup allows for control of the ship’s thrusters.”

In terms of the thrusters, Doug and Kay selected off the shelf brushless mortars for model RC cars and planes.

“By potting the coils of a brushless outrunner motor, Doug and Kay found this solution makes an awful lot of sense,” Benchoff continued.

“It’s cheap, fairly reliable, doesn’t require a whole lot of engineering.”

Interested in learning more about the undersea ROV project? You can check out Doug and Kay’s official blog here.

AVR video synthesizer and an analog video game prototype

Like most of the folks that come to the annual Analog Aficionados party, my buddy Todd Bailey has a bunch of interests. Todd helped Atmel out at the NY Maker Faire working at our booth, showing off his Atmel AVR-powered video synthesizer.


Todd Bailey’s video synthesizer getting a workout by Dan Friel as he performs Thumper

Todd does a lot of work with AVRs, some of which I can’t tell you about because he is under NDA (non-disclosure agreement). The video synth was a personal fun project perfectly aligned with the open-source and Maker movement. The synth generates all sync, blanking, and colorburst signals on an Atmega168a running at 14.31818MHz (four times the color carrier frequency for NTSC). The one at the Faire was a prototype and Todd might move up to an Xmega just so he can run at 8 times the color carrier rate for tighter timings.

It’s currently written in mixed C and assembly.


Todd Bailey demonstrated this AVR-powered video synthesizer at the Atmel booth at NY Maker Faire 2013.

In addition to synthesized video, Bailey also loves old vector arcade games. These are games where the CRT (cathode ray tube) is not a raster unit like in your old analog TV. A vector tube is more like an oscilloscope, where you draw lines at any angle. Todd wrote:

“As some of you may have known or been involved in, a couple buddies and I have been working on a new arcade game using old vector monitors to take advantage of how beautiful and alien they look.  We built an FPGA-based vector generator, a high-bandwidth and resolution XYZ DAC/amp and have gotten really intimate with the guts of the Electohome G05 monitor.”

Todd-Bailey_video game

“Anyway, most of the hardware and engine stuff is done and we decided it was time to show it off to our friends.  The storyboard as it stands is about cryogenically frozen Soviet pilots descending from space and blowing up Chicago, although the prototype game right now is just about blasting polygons.  It’s in full 3D wireframe, and it also features a separately-driven monochrome ATM CRT as the ship’s HUD. We’d like it to become a proper stand up arcade game pretty soon but have basically no idea what to do with it when we’re done.”

I got into vector CRTs when I saw the schematics for the HV (high voltage) section of the Tempest vector monitor. They would have been better off running open-loop. What the flyback circuit does is try to maintain voltage on a system with a static load, so all you really get is excessive current as the flyback windings start to short, and the well-known smoke effect from these systems. A universal input current-mode flyback would be just the ticket– protecting the transformer from fire and I bet even that could run open-loop once you set it at the factory.