Tiny Proto Boards

Tiny25 and Tiny2313 Proto Board

Here are two brand new boards for faster prototyping. These are especially useful for these one-off projects that need to be more permanent than on a breadboard. And they save time as most of the standard components as reset button or ISP header are already on board. Only the custom part of the project has to be soldered on the proto area. They come in two flavors, one for ATtiny25 and one for ATtiny2313 Atmel microcontrollers.

Tiny2313 Proto Board

Even a 3 AA cell battery holder with on/off switch is included in the kit. There also two new how-tos with detailed step-by-step instructions, Tiny25 Proto Board Howto and Tiny2313 Proto Board Howto.

You can grab a full kit at the Tinker Store (sorry, shop is closed), if you like.

Posted in avr

Mega328 Header Kit

Blinky Mega328 Header Board

It took a while since I first posted about the new ATmega header board but finally, here it is.

The board is great for prototyping on a solderless breadboard. It is compatible with the common 28-pin AVR controllers like ATmega48, ATmega88, ATmega168 and ATmega328. On plus it is Arduino compatible.

Some of the features:

  • Space efficient, occupies only on more row than the controller itself
  • Has no voltage regulator on board, so you choose, at which voltage you want to run it
  • It has SMD resistors and LEDs (size 1206) to make it a great starting point to learn how to hand solder SMD
  • Has a sticker to tell which pin is what. Thanks Tod!
  • Blinks blue!

Check out the detailed howto page.

Microcontroller cheat sheet

Often, when I am tinkering with a controller on a breadboard, I have to open up the according datasheet, only to look up the pinout. So I designed a simple page with all of of the pinouts that I use most. It has:

  • 8-pin AVRs, ATtiny25/ATtiny45/ATtiny85
  • 20-pin AVR, ATtiny2313
  • 28-pin AVRs, ATmega48/ATmega88/ATmega168/ATmega328
  • Arduino to ATmega mapping
  • ISP header, 6-pin and 10-pin
  • FTDI-cable

Maybe it’s helpful for others as well. You can download it as:

If you like it, you will also like the Tod’s cool Arduino chip sticker.

Update 2010/01/24

The new version includes the pinout of the Bus Pirate. Thanks Philipp for the update.

ATmega breadboard header

This is another breadboard compatible header board, that I am working on. This one is for all 28-pin AVR devices, ATmega48, ATmega88, ATmega168 and the latest ATmega328. Component count is low and there is no voltage regulator on board. That makes it easy to power it from various sources.

As a bonus, this board is a hybrid of through hole and SMT components. It has two SMD LEDs under the hood. Great to learn how to solder surface mounted devices.

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Tupperware Arcade Controls

If you want to play some retro arcade games, you will install the amazing MAME and run your favorite ROM. One of my best-of-all-times is Bomb Jack.

But you have to play it with the keyboard. Bah!

Or an USB game pad. Better, but still — bah!

Nothing compares to real arcade controls. And with a bit of tinkering, you can get a tiny step closer to the real gaming experience.

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Driving an LED with or without a resistor

In this post I will try to show, why it’s a good idea to use a current limiting resistor for an LED. And when it’s save to drive the LED without any resistor.

If you read about LEDs, you will notice that everyone tells you, that you need a current limiting resistor. But mostly they do not tell you why.

LED with current limiting resistor

If you look at a datasheet of an LED, you will notice that graphs shown are not linear. An LED is a diode, a semiconductor and behaves differently compared to a resistor.

If you apply a specific voltage to a resistor, you can compute the resulting current with:


I = V / R Example: I = 5 Volt / 100 Ohm = 50 mA

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64pixels are enough

I love Blinkenlights. And all kinds of other blinking and flashing LED stuff. I think, it’s already a form of addiction. When I ran across an LED matrix with square pixels, I thought it would be cool to build a small animated display with it. To keep things simple, the display is attached directly to the microcontroller the “Evil-Mad-Scientist-way”.

The display performs really well, the pixels are bright and the batteries last for over two weeks running non-stop. The microcontroller has 2 k flash RAM. That’s enough for three simple animations and a couple of messages.

If you want to see the guts, then follow me to the 64pixels howto.

ATtiny breadboard headers

These tiny controller boards are build to provide a quick start for projects with 8 and 20 pin AVR microcontrollers, e.g. ATtiny13, ATtiny45, ATtiny85 and ATtiny2313. They don’t include any fancy stuff, they are just as simple as possible.

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Posted in avr

Synchronizing Fireflies NG

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Update 04. Dec. 2008: This article is replaced by the new howto.

This is a remake of the fireflies which I did a year ago. I was always fascinated by the emergence of patterns. One I like most is the synchronization of hundreds or thousands of fireflies. First they flash randomly but after some time and influencing each other, they flash in sync.

This circuit simulates fireflies with small microcontrollers. Note that every firefly acts completely autonomously, it is not a preprogrammed pattern. It is a self organizing system.

The NG version uses a small PCB (Printed Circuit Board) and a RGB-LED.

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