Sunday, August 31, 2008

AVR microcontroller stuff

I'm pretty close to having the parts I need to start my crazy AVR microcontroller project. (Note to self: in the future, don't order parts from Thailand if you want them to arrive in a timely fashion :-) At the moment I'm just waiting for a programming cable, then I'll be off and running. I was originally going to build a programming cable, but after reflecting on my lack of soldering skills, I decided this wasn't a great idea. The one I ordered (from Sparkfun, good place to buy AVR stuff, BTW) was the AVR-PG1B, which connects to a serial port on your PC, and allegedly is supported by avrdude. I also ordered a nifty little breakout board which adapts the 10 pin AVR ISP connector (2x5 pins) to a single row of six pins which can be plugged into a breadboard. I'll need to get some help soldering it, however.

While waiting for the programmer to arrive, I've been poking around the 'net looking at various AVR tutorials. The best one I've come across is at Sparkfun:
Beginning Embedded Electronics
There's a bunch of stuff at the beginning about building a power supply circuit using a 7805 voltage regulator, but you can save that effort if you have a good switching 5V wall wart power supply. Digilent has a good one (part number SWPS). They also have a nice cable for getting the output of the power supply to a pair of leads (part number COAXPOWER). Beware though: the ends of the leads are tinned with solder, so you don't want to stick them directly into a breadboard, lest bits of solder flake off and cause shorts. A terminal block solves this problem nicely.

When I get some blinkenlights working I'll post a picture.

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