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Bootloaders and Bricked AVRs

The last project based around an ATtiny85 was pretty successful, I'm impressed with what you can squeeze out of the chips and I have a few more smaller projects that they would be perfect for as well. One of the more frustrating aspects was having to physically move the chip from the circuit to the programmer every time I wanted to update the firmware - by the fourth iteration I was wishing very hard for some sort of serial bootloader. The ATtiny doesn't have a UART on board but the functionality can be implemented in software (and, with the help of a little bit of hardware, can be done on a s…

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An ATtiny85 Based Safety Light

This project is a simple presence sensing night light for doors, stairs and other areas which could be dangerous or difficult to navigate in low lighting conditions. It is built around an ATtiny85 microcontroller and uses the head from a cheap LED torch as the lighting element. The ambient lighting is detected with a simple LDR and presence with a PIR motion sensor. Using a microcontroller is probably overkill for this project and the firmware may seem a bit large for what it does (around 1.5K). I wanted to use the project to experiment with some other features as well as making a useful utili…

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Introducing the Microboard Form Factor

I'm very happy with the form factor of the updated Babyduino PCB - it's small, neat, plays well with my Clixx docks and is still breadboard friendly. Although the layout is similar to an Arduino (but has correct 2.54mm pin spacing) the pin to CPU mapping is designed for use with Clixx - making project development a lot more flexible and easy. Shortly after testing those boards I designed a handful more with the same form factor for a range of different MCU chips - each one provides the bare minimum support circuitry needed to put the target CPU in the heart of a project and be able to program…

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Waxing Nostalgic

I recently came across an excellent series of articles describing the development of the Amiga personal computer. I'm a sucker for these types of articles, I've read Soul of a New Machine countless times (I highly recommend that any budding electronics engineer get a copy) and have gone through the site which contains a large collection of insider stories about the development of the original Macintosh more times than is healthy for me as well. Stories like those described in the sites and book I mentioned above are what enticed me into the career I now have; I wanted to be a part…

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Where are the PIC Projects?

I enabled Google Analytics on this site a little over a month ago to try and get a feel for what pages people were reading and which (if any) other pages that led them to. I've now got enough data collected to get a reasonable overview and some of the results surprised me. It seems a lot of people are coming here to read my PIC related posts even though I haven't published a new one for over a year. I've migrated away from using the PIC over that period and (judging by what shows up on the web) a lot of other people have as well. This led me to wonder why people have moved on from the chip - I…

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