What is the Tinusaur project about?
Here we will explain it to you step-by-step.
What is the Tinusaur project about?
Here we will explain it to you step-by-step.
We’ve recently discovered a bug in our Arduino IDE package that will cause an error when you try to compile your code.
We have a fix for it and the only thing you need to do is to update the package.
Here is how:
If you don’t have the package installed yet follow the instructions for setting up the Arduino IDE with the Tinusaur boards.
If you don’t have a Tinusaur board yet 🙂 go to our Indiegogo Campaign InDemand option and get one.
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.
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.
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.
Just assembling various boards.
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.
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.
This is a LED matrix 8×8 with a MAX7219 controller.
Even while we’re soldering it people were coming with ideas what we could do with it.
The second day was dedicated to programming what we’ve assembled the previous day.
That’s how we started the day 2.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
Another version of this guide but with screenshots is available at the Arduino IDE Setup page.
These are questions that we’re often asked:
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 …
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.
If you’re still not convinced why it is not possible to compare it other more powerful platforms here are some technical parameters.
|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||–||–|
|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:
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.
It is actually the Digispark that we should compare the Tinusaur to.
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.
Listed here only as reference
The Tinusaur has its own advantages that make it unique for its specific audience.
And by the way …
Ever wanted to do a project with that cheap DHT11 temperature/humidity sensor and did not want to go the Arduino way but with a simple ATtiny85? You probably know already about the issues with the existing Arduino based libraries running on the ATtiny microcontrollers, but can’t deal with them. TinuDHT is our answer to this.
TinuDHT is a C library for working with the DHT11 temperature/humidity sensor intended to be used with the Tinusaur but should also work with any other board based on ATtiny85 or similar microcontroller.
The DHT11 is very basic, low-cost digital temperature and humidity sensor. It uses a capacitive humidity sensor and a thermistor for measurements, and sends out the info to the data pin. It is relatively simple to use it, but requires precise timing to retrieve the data correctly. One disadvantage of this sensor is that you can get new data from it no more often than once every 1 or 2 seconds.
The primary problem with the direct use of the Arduino libraries is that the ATtiny85 and Tinusaur in particular do not have enough resource to handle the send/receive process properly, i.e. not enough CPU power, in result of which the timing of the signals that are sent to the sensor and received from it become messed up. In addition those libraries use Arduino specific code and/or C++ specific syntax which makes them incompatible with the plain C language.
TinuDHT library is based on DHT11Lib code. It was adapted for ATtiny, removed Arduino dependencies and timing was adjusted to work well on ATtiny85 at 1 MHz. There are few other changes and optimizations for speed and size.
TinuDHT is written in plain C and does not require any additional libraries to function except those that come with the WinAVR SDK.
Please go to TinuDHT page to see the full document.
The source code of the TinuDHT library is available at https://bitbucket.org/tinusaur/tinudht.
Note: This guide was tested under Microsoft Windows 8.1 operating system.
Note: The example source code was tested on ATtiny85 microcontroller installed on a Tinusaur Board and programmed using USBasp ISP programmer.
Note: This is not a guide how to use the Arduino IDE but rather how to setup one for use with AТtiny microcontrollers and specifically the Tinusaur.
The guide goes through the: