Aren’t those programming headers too big?

Microcontroller boards are getting smaller and especially in smaller ones those programming headers become annoying. Think of 6-pin AVR ISP header – even on Arduino board it can be in your way. If you need to program MCU, you cannot get rid of it. So many of hobbyists probably start making custom solutions in order to save space. Danny suggests to take a look at so called tag-connect solution, where connection can be made with spring loaded pogo-pins that are normally used for testing PCBs during manufacturing. It seems that they can serve programming and debugging purposes on small boards pretty well. You can make easily make ISP to tag-connect adapter cable pretty easily and next time design PCB with much smaller ISP footprint. Using tag-connect you are not only saving on board space, but also you need less drill holes and don’t need pin header anymore. Continue reading

Programming AVR and 8051 with ULTI-ISP

Programming AVR and 8051 with ULTI-ISP

Using In System Programmers (ISP) is probably the most common way of programming microcontrollers. This is convenient because chips don’t have to be removed from original circuit – this is actual when SMT parts are used. AVR and Atmel’s 8051 micros can be programmed using ISP method. There are many various programming cables and adapters you can choose. Some of them are commercial that cost some money. But hobbyists rather like community products with all open software/hardware benefits. Probably you’ve heard and maybe have famous USASP programmer originally made by Thomas Fischl. Umair Mukati decided to add some improvements to it and built ULTI-ISP ISB programmer that supports AVRs and 8051 microcontrollers. Programmer is built using Atmega8 microcontroller. The PCB is shaped to fit as USB stick – this is convenient to use with laptops. ULTI-ISP can be used with ProgISP software. Continue reading

Chipper board for programming and prototyping Attiny chips

Attiny microcontrollers are smallest microcontrollers from AVR line. Despite their low pin count and less memory, they are great microconrollers for smaller projects. In order to make thing simpler, Ben built a Chipper board that makes it easier to program and prototype tiny’s. It is made to be Arduino shield compatible. So by stacking it on top it already can be used as second core if you wish. Chipper board supports majority of tiny micros with 8, 14 and 20 pins. Board has couple LEDs and sensor port for fast prototyping. There is also a small prototyping area to make custom addition to it. Continue reading

The Awesome and Cute AVR-based Programmable LED

Programmable LEDs are those projects that have been fully-programmed with numerous LEDs. In this case, the idea is to make the LED blinking sequence reprogrammable. Basically, the reprogramming can be easily done with light and shadow. Today, you’re giving the chance to build an awesome yet cute AVR-based Programmable LED. Before you’re building a programmable LED, you must first prepare the following materials: Two 1K resistor A Light Dependent Resistor A Low Current LED (1.7V, 2ma) An Atmel ATtiny13v, 1KB flash RAM, 64 Bytes EEPROM A CR2032 (3V, 220mAh) Soldering iron and wire Breadboard AVR programmer 5V power supply Multimeter The reason why the ATtiny13v is used because this version is able to run at 1.8V. In this case, it is possible to run the circuit with a very small battery. If you want it to run for a very long time, you might want to use a low current LED, which is able to reach full brightness at 2ma! Continue reading