News

PLEDGE: We will make the Tinusaur Car

The Tinusaur Car Prototype

As you may have noticed we’ve extended our campaign by a couple of days to allow more people to get their perks over the weekend.

We’re 175% over our original goal, $4522 raised – with 12 hours still left to go.

We’re so excited that we’ve decided to make this pledge: if we reach 200% or $5000 (whichever happens first) before the end of the campaign (i.e. in about 12 hours) we promise that we will make the Tinusaur Car – a 2-wheel mini car that can follow a line – and we will make it available on our website.

We are already building a working prototype.
(picture above)

What can you do to help us reach our next goal?

  1. Go to our campaign https://igg.me/at/tinusaur support us – get a perk.
  2. Share our campaign link https://igg.me/at/tinusaur with your friends or through your social media channels.

Wish us luck for the next 12 hours!
The Tinusaur Team.

Funded 140% and only 16 hours left

Tinusaur Indiegogo Campaign 140 percent

We are 140% funded and there are only 16 hours left of our Indiegogo campaign.

This would’ve not happened without your support. 🙂

By continuing to support our cause you will help us get even more Tinusaur kits to our students.

Not interested in getting a Tinusaur board? You can donate to the project! Our promise: we will spend the money to bring the Tinusaur boards to even more students … as we’ve done it before.

Neither of those is for you? No problem. You could just share our campaign link https://igg.me/at/tinusaur to your social media channels such like Facebook, Twitter, or whatever you prefer.

Just a quick reminder: After the campaign is over the price of the boards, the kits, and the shipping will go slightly up so now is the best time get a bunch them.

Thanks again for your support.

Indiegogo Campaign is Almost Halfway Through

Tinusaur Indiegogo Campaign

Last week we’ve launched our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign and, as of a few minutes ago, we’ve reached 1/3-rd of our goal already. 🙂

In case you’re not familiar what the Tinusaur project is about …

A small board with a tiny chip on it that comes as an assembly kit – a small package with parts and you get the chance to learn how to solder it. This circuit is so simple that there are very few things that could go wrong. It’s been around for over 3 years and used in schools and universities to educate young people in both hardware and software. With this campaign, you could help us produce more of the Tinusaur boards, bring the cost down to $3 per basic “lite” board and allow more people to be able to get them.

Tinusaur Indiegogo Campaign

The Tinusaur boards are powered by the Atmel ATtiny85 microcontroller. You could program your Tinusaur board with the Arduino development environment, or if you chose so – using the plain old C/C++ compiler, or … using whatever you prefer.

The success of this campaign will help us produce our boards and kits in much larger quantities and bring the coast down. That will allow us to have the basic “lite” boards for as little as $3/pcs – that will make them available for even more people.

Help us spread the word – just share it. But, if you like the idea and the project, you could back us up. Here’s the link: https://igg.me/at/tinusaur.

Thanks in advance for your support.

We’re planning to launch new Indiegogo campaign for $3 boards – next week

Tinusaur 3 Dollar Bill

With the growing interest in our project and kits, we decided to plan for and launch another Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign – next week.

The goals:

  • to make 1000 or more boards;
  • to bring the cost for the Tinusaur Board Lite down to $3 a piece.

The link for the campaign will be http://igg.me/at/tinusaur.

Some of our team members will be at the FOSDEM in Brussels on the 4th and the 5th next week – will be glad to meet anyone interested in what we’re doing.

Moving forward with the Tinusaur Project in 2017

2 dollar bill per tinusaur board

2016 has been a great year!

Over 20 workshops, lectures, seminars, courses. One Indiegogo campaign. Hundreds of people started using the Tinusaur platform.

2 dollar bill per boardSo, what’s next?

Our Q1 goal: Launch new Indiegogo campaign in February to produce 1000 Tinusaur kits and bring the cost down to $2 per basic kit.

This will make our boards available and affordable for everyone.

Isn’t that great! 🙂

Our focus: Learn+Educate+Make

Tinusaur Project Workshop UNI4KIDS

Split the content into 3:

  • For Learners – Learn how to program microcontrollers. Assemble one yourself.
  • For Educators – Teach others how to work with microcontrollers. Help them assemble one themselves.
  • For Makers – Build things with tiny microcontrollers. Use your creativity under the constraints of the Tinusaur platform and share it with the community.

Another two-day workshop about microcontrollers, soldering and Tinusaur

Another two-day workshop about microcontrollers, soldering and Tinusaur

There was another “Microcontrollers, soldering and Tinusaurworkshop in our town of Veliko Tarnovo, few days ago..

The first day we assembled some boards, the second day we wrote some programs.

For the younger kids, there were much simpler things to do – soldering blinking LED with 2 transistors, few other components, and a battery.

Day 1

Just assembling various boards.

Tinusaur Board

This is the Tinusaur Board from the Tinusaur Starter 2 kit.

Tinusaur Board Parts

It wasn’t difficult for anyone to do that. There are markings on the PCB that tell you where to put each component and in what direction.

The only important thing to know is that you solder the RESET button last, before that you solder the batter socket on the bottom side of the PCB.

Tinusaur Shield LEDx2

This is the Shield LEDx2 from the Tinusaur Starter 2 kit.

Tinusaur Shield LEDx2 Parts

This shield is an upgrade from the previous Tinusaur Starter where we had to solder the LED and the resistor to a tiny 2-pin male header. With the shield is so much easier and fun.

LED Matrix 8×8 with MAX7219 Controller

This is a LED matrix 8×8 with a MAX7219 controller.

LED Matrix 8x8 MAX7219 Controller

That was something new. They sell on eBay at very affordable price: http://www.ebay.com/itm/191736585164

Even while we’re soldering it people were coming with ideas what we could do with it.

Day 2

The second day was dedicated to programming what we’ve assembled the previous day.

Software and Arduino IDE Setup

That’s how we started the day 2.

Short guide about how to setup the Arduino IDE to work with the Tinusaur boards is available at Arduino IDE Setup page.

Blinking LED

The “Hello, World!” in the microcontrollers’ world.

Source code available at https://bitbucket.org/tinusaur/tutorials/src/default/tut004a_blinking_leds/.

Separate blog post and tutorial page will be available soon.

LED Matrix 8×8

The biggest challenge here was to make the MAX7219LED8x8 library to work in the Arduino IDE environment.

We’ll do another post about that in the next few days.

 

How to Setup the Arduino IDE to Work with the Tinusaur Boards

Arduino IDE for Tinusaur Boards

This is a short guide how to setup the Arduino IDE to work with the Tinusaur boards.

What it does basically is to make it work with the Atmel ATtiny85/45/25 microcontrollers. The only difference is that it will appear on the list of boards as Tinusaur – this is done for convenience, so relatively inexperienced people won’t get confused by the long list of unknown boards and microcontrollers.

Installing the Arduino IDE

First of all, we need the Arduino IDE itself. It could be downloaded from https://www.arduino.cc/en/Main/Software – the official Arduino website. The current version at the time of writing this guide was 1.6.8 but should work with all the most recent versions.

Start the Arduino IDE first.

 

Adding Support for the Tinusaur Boards

Go to the menu File / Preferences.

Find the “Additional Boards manager URLs” and the button on the right that will open an edit box.

Put the following URL in the edit box:

https://bitbucket.org/tinusaur/arduino-ide-boards/raw/default/package_tinusaur_attiny_index.json

NOTE: It is possible to have multiple URLs as long as they are put on separate lines.

Close the edit dialog by pressing “OK”. Close the “Preferences” dialog by pressing “OK”.

Go to the menu Tools / Board:… / Boards Manager.

This will open an additional dialog window with boards information.

You may need to wait until all data is loaded.

From the drop-down menu “Type” choose the “Contributed” item.

Locate the “Tinusaur Boards” item and click on it.

Press the “Install” button. That will install the necessary files into the Arduino IDE.

Close the dialog by pressing the “Close” button.

Setup to use the Tinusaur Board

Go to menu Tools / Board:…

The Tinusaur should be available somewhere at the bottom of the list. Choose the Tinusaur.

It is important to setup the other parameters for the board.

Go to menu Tools / Processor:… and choose the appropriate CPU type. If unsure choose ATtiny85.

Go to menu Tools / Clock:… and choose the appropriate CPU frequency. If unsure choose 1 MHz.

Go to menu Tools / Programmer:… and choose the appropriate programmer. If unsure choose USBasp.

That’s it.

Another version of this guide but with screenshots is available at the Arduino IDE Setup page.

Our first workshop for this year

Tinusaur Workshop Soldering Plovdiv Hackafe

Our first workshop for this year took place couple of weeks ago in Plovdiv at Hackafe. It was part of a much larger event about microcontrollers, robotics and internet-of-things.

This time, it was for 2 days and in 3 parts.

Part 1 (day 1) was an introduction to the microcontrollers for everyone that was just starting – short 30 minutes presentation and then discussions about various problems that one may experience while working with input/output. It was interesting to see some observation by people that have no much experienced about buttons and the noise that they may produce, then … how do we do debouncing.

Tinusaur Workshop Plovdiv Hackafe

Part 2 (day 2) was soldering. Everyone got Tinusaur Starter 2 kit. No one had difficulties assembling the board – there’s no much you can get wrong with this board.

One of my friends shot a timelapse at one of the tables.

Part 3 (day 2) was the fun part.

We wrote the blinking LED program – that was easy.

Then we started experimenting.

As it is an old Bulgarian custom to wear Martenitsa in March we made some blinking ones with the Tinusaur.

We also managed to play polyphonic tunes using ELM – Wavetable Melody Generator.

But the most unusual thing we did was to make an old floppy disk drive play a melody.

Thanks to Vencislav Atanasov (https://github.com/user890104) for the idea.

The inspiration was from Moppy – the Musical Fl oppy by SammyIAm.

 

Oh, by the way, incase you’ve not heard it yet 🙂 …

Tinusaur Project Crowdfunding Indiegogo

We have recently launched a Tinusaur crowdfunding campaign at Indiegogo so if you like what we’re doing please support us at http://igg.me/at/tinusaur.

 

Tinusaur and Digispark – should we compare?

Compare Raspberry Pi, Arduino Uno, ATtiny85 Tinusaur

These are questions that we’re often asked:

  • How is it better than ****** ?
  • How is it different from ****** ?

Atmel ATtiny85

First of all you should not compare the Tinusaur powered by Atmel ATtiny85 microcontroller to things like Raspberry Pi (or any other platform running 32/64-bit RISK processor) or Arduino (running on ATmega or similar).

In fact, the Tinusaur should be compared only to something that has 8 KB (kilobytes) program memory and 512B (bytes) data memory, has also 5 or 6 input/output connectors.

But the more important question here is …

Why the Tinusaur even exists?

Tinusaur Board Assembled

The Tinusaur project concept is LEARN BY DOING THINGS. That mean if you want learn how something works you should create one yourself – from scratch if possible.

The opposite to that would be to order something from Internet, open the box, connect some wires, copy/paste code from website, see that the LED blinks … and that’s all. Period.

So, if you want to create the simplest possible microcontroller system … the Tinusaur is your friend. It is a small plastic bag package that has all the parts that you need to assemble your own system powered by Atmel ATtiny85 microcontroller. You need to have soldering iron though.

Then, you can write some simple programs following the tutorials here on this website (or elsewhere, if you prefer) and from this point on it is little different from any other ATtiny85 based board.

Let’s Compare

If you’re still not convinced why it is not possible to compare it other more powerful platforms here are some technical parameters.

 

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi 2 Model B v1.1 top new

Arduino Uno

ATtiny85/Tinusaur

Tinusaur Board Top

Processor ARM11 – 32-bit RISK ATmega328P 8-bit RISK ATtiny85 – 8-bit RISK
Frequancy 700 MHz 16 MHz 1 MHz (up to 20 MHz)
Memory RAM 256/512 MB 2 KB 512 B
Memory PRG On-board SD slot 32 KB, 1 KB EERPROM 8 KB Flash, 512 B EERPROM
Input/Output 8×GPIO, UART, I²C, SPI … 6 analog, 14 digital 5 or 6 analog/digital
Peripheral USB, audio & video, HDMI
OS Linux, etc.
Dimensions 85×56 mm (48 cm²) 68×53 mm (36 cm²) 28×20 mm (6 cm²)
Weight 45 gr. 28 gr. 9 gr.
Power 500 mA, 700–1000 mA 50 mA 1-2 mА, 300 µA idle
(0.1 µA standby)
Cost 35 USD (25 USD) 20 USD (10 USD) 5 USD board
8 USD starter kit

* values are typical, may differ by application
** prices depend where do you buy it
*** some of the data may be little outdated but still relevant for rough comparison

It is obvious that these 3 product categories are very different.

Let’s just mention that Tinusaur/ATtiny85 advantages are:

  • Size – small, less than 1 in²
  • Wight – light, about 9 gr
  • Power consumption – low, extremely low in standby
  • Price – affordable to everyone

Worth mentioning that the price of the Tinusaur board with all the parts could go as low as 2 USD or less if produced in thousands pcs.

The Digispark

Digispark by Digistump is GREAT!

It is actually the Digispark that we should compare the Tinusaur to.

Digispark by DigistumpHere are some the things that we believe are advantages of the Tinusaur over the Digispark:

  • You can assemble it yourself thus learn one more thing – how to solder.
  • You can use all of the 8KB flash memory because you don’t need what’s call bootloader (needed for the Digispark USB connection) that takes about 2 KB so you have less than 6 KB left for programs.
  • It is cheap and will get cheaper – down to 2 USD and we start producing in thousands.

Another thing to mention is that the original high-quality Digispark by Digistump is 8.95 USD. You can still buy the generic quality clone for under 2 USD on various websites.

Other notable similar projects

Listed here only as reference

PicoDuino

by Bobricius

Trinket

by Adafruit

OLIMEXINO-85S
(OLIMEXINO-85)

by Olimex

PicoDuino by Bobricius Trinket by Adafruit OLIMEXINO-85S

Conclusion

The Tinusaur has its own advantages that make it unique for its specific audience.

And let’s not forget the the Tinusaur Project consist not only of Tinusaur Board but also the guides, tutorials and the projects based on it.

And by the way …

We have just launched the Tinusaur Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign so if you like what we’re doing support us at http://igg.me/at/tinusaur

Tinusaur Indiegogo Crowdfunding Campaign Launched