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.

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.

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

 

The Tinusaur Indiegogo Crowdfunding Campaign Just Launched

Tinusaur Indiegogo Crowdfunding Campaign Launched

The Tinusaur Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign have just launched.

Official link: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/the-tinusaur-project-attiny85-quick-start-boards/

Short link: http://igg.me/at/tinusaur/

Please, support us.

Questions? Don’t hesitate to ask them below.

New Bundle: Tinusaur Starter 2

Tinusaur Starter 2 Kit

As you may already know last week we announced the Tinusaur Shield LEDx2 – this is very simple add-on board that you put on top of the Tinusaur Board. It has just 4 components: 2 LEDs and 2 resistors for each LED – there is no much to solder.

Now we have bundled this with a Tinusaur Board and an USB-ASP Programmer and that is now the Tinusaur Starter 2 kit. Great, isn’t it!

Tinusaur Starter 2 Kit

Check the links below for more detailed content information about each of the products included in this bundle:

IMPORTANT: Note that this is a kit, you have to assemble it yourself.

This bundle has its own page at Bundles / Tinusaur Starter 2.

Please, check the Where to buy page to see if the Tinusaur Starter 2 at the The Tinusaur Online Store.

New Product: Tinusaur Shield LEDx2

Tinusaur Shield LEDx2

As we’ve mentioned earlier (What is happening with this project?) we were working on shield-like add-on board for the Tinusaur Board.

So here it is …

Tinusaur Shield LEDx2 Parts

It has only 2 LEDs and 2 resistors for each LED so no much to solder.

This shield aims at 2 things – making it easier to …

This shield has its own page at Products / Tinusaur Shield LEDx2.

UPDATED: DS1307 Library

DS1307 Serial Real-Time Clock USITWIX Tinusaur

The functions were moved to separate files in the DS1307tiny library.

The sample code in the ds1307tiny_test1 module looks cleaner now. The output should be something like this …

DS1307 Serial Real-Time Clock USITWIX ATtiny85

Note that one of the challenges working with a real-time clock the the DS1307 is to set it up with the correct time at the beginning.

  • One way is to do that programmatically – write a program for the microcontroller that will set the clock to specific date & time and run that program right at the specified in the code date & time.
  • Another way of doing taht is to use some sort of USB-to-I2C module and set the date & time from the computer. Such modules exist but they are kind of expensive for the simeple thing they do.
    Ref: http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?LH_BIN=1&_nkw=USB+to+I2C&_sop=15

References

Source code available at: https://bitbucket.org/tinusaur/ds1307tiny

More information about the library will be available at its own page: DS1307tiny

 

Working with BMP180 Pressure Sensor and ATtiny85 using USITWIX Library

USITWIX – Using USI as TWI / I2C

In our previous post “USITWIX – Using UART as TWI / I2C” we looked at the USITWIX library that implements TWI / I2C communication between а  ATtiny85 micro-controller and peripherals. Let’s see now how we can use that library to work with the BOSCH BMP180 atmospheric pressure sensor and a ATtiny85/Tinusaur boards.

The BMP180tiny Library

So, we wrote a simple library (called it BMP180tiny) that uses USITWIX to read and write from/to BMP180 registers, retrieve the measurements, do some additional calculations and produce result suitable for use in an application.

Setup

Here’s the setup:

BMP180 with Tinusaur ATtiny85 USITWIX

NOTE: We need the USB-to-Serial just for debugging – it isn’t essential part of the setup.

Here is a short fragment of initialization code

uint8_t bmp180_result;
if ((bmp180_result = bmp180_init()) != BMP180_RESULT_SUCCESS)
{
  return -1;
}

And here is now to use the functions …

// Read raw temperature
uint16_t temp_rawdata = bmp180_read_temp_raw();

uint16_t temp_10x = bmp180_read_temp10x();
// temp_10x holds the result dC, i.e. 123 means 12.3 Celsius

// Read raw pressure
int32_t pres_rawdata = bmp180_read_pres_raw();

// Read pressure
int32_t pres = bmp180_read_pres();
int16_t pres_hpa = pres / 100;
// pres_hpa holds the result in hPa (hectopascals)

// Read altitude
int32_t alt_x = bmp180_read_alt_x();
int16_t alt_dm = alt_x / 100;
// alt_dm holds the result in dm (decimeters)

The debugging output would look something like this …

t:raw=28622; t(dC)=253; p:raw/hi=5; p:raw/lo=4940; p(Pa)/hi=1; p(Pa)/lo=33948; p(hPa)=994; a/lo=24222; a(dm)=1552;
t:raw=28624; t(dC)=253; p:raw/hi=5; p:raw/lo=4964; p(Pa)/hi=1; p(Pa)/lo=33933; p(hPa)=994; a/lo=24307; a(dm)=1553;
t:raw=28623; t(dC)=253; p:raw/hi=5; p:raw/lo=4951; p(Pa)/hi=1; p(Pa)/lo=33939; p(hPa)=994; a/lo=22619; a(dm)=1536;
t:raw=28624; t(dC)=253; p:raw/hi=5; p:raw/lo=4942; p(Pa)/hi=1; p(Pa)/lo=33940; p(hPa)=994; a/lo=24560; a(dm)=1556;

NOTE: This is generated using OWOWOD library and hardware (not required by the library itself to work)

References

The source code is available at https://bitbucket.org/tinusaur/bmp180tiny.
— The library is in the “bmp180tiny” folder.
— A sample code could found in the “bmp180tiny_test1” folder.

The page about BMP180tiny and articles about BMP180tiny.

The page about USITWIX and articles about USITWIX.