Bootloader brings USB, firmware updating to the ATtiny85

[Jenna] sent in a very cool bootloader she thought people might like. It’s called Micronucleus and it turns the lowly ATtiny 85 into a chip with a USB interface capable of being upgraded via a ‘viral’ uploader program. Micronucleus weighs in at just over 2 kB, making it one of the smallest USB-compatible bootloaders currently available.

The USB support comes from V-USB, a project that puts a virtual USB port on a suite of AVR microcontrollers. With V-USB, it’s easy to turn a Tiny85 into a keyboard, custom joystick, data logger, or computer-attached LED display.

One very interesting feature of Micronucleus is the ‘viral updater’ feature. This feature takes a new piece of firmware, and writes it to a Tiny85, disabling the current bootloader. If you’re designing a project that should have a means of updating the firmware via USB instead of the usual AVR programmer, this might be the bootloader for you.

Not bad for a bootloader that emphasizes small code size. At just over 2 kB, it’s possible to use this bootloader on the similar, smaller, and somewhat cheaper ATtiny45.

Bringing Java to the world of microcontrollers

C is a beautiful language perfectly suited for development on low-power devices such as the 8-bit microcontrollers. With newer, more powerful ARM microcontrollers making their way onto the market and workbenches around the world, it was only fitting that Oracle got in on the action. They released a version of Java targeted at these newer, more powerful microcontrollers called Java ME embedded.

The new embedded version of Java has everything you would expect from a microcontroller development platform – access to GPIO pins, including SD cards and I2C devices. The new Java machine is designed for full headless operation and is capable of running on devices with as little as 130 kB of RAM and 350 kB of ROM.

As for the utility of programming a microcontroller in Java, it’s still the second most popular language, after spending the better part of a decade as the number one language programmers choose to use. The requirements of the new embedded version of Java are far too large to fit onto even the best 8-bit microcontrollers, but with a new crop of more powerful ARM devices, we’ll expect to see more and more ARM/Java projects making their way into the Hackaday tip line in the coming months.

Tip ‘o the hat to [roger] for sending this one in.

Single sided Arduino is a great introduction to PCB etching

After you’ve taken the plunge and decided to learn how to etch your own circuit boards, you’ll quickly find even the simplest boards are still out of your grasp. This is due mostly to the two-layer nature of most PCBs, and turn making a homemade Arduino board an exercise in frustration and improving your vocabulary of four-letter words.

After looking around for an easy-to-manufacture single-sided Arduino board, [Johan] realized there weren’t many options for someone new to board etching. He created the Nanino, quite possibly the simplist Arduino compatible board that can be made in a kitchen sink.

Billing it as something between the Veroduino and the Diavolino, [Johan]‘s board does away with all the complexities of true Arduinos by throwing out the USB interface and FTDI chip. A very small parts count makes the Nanino much less expensive to produce in quantity than even the official Arduino single sided board.

For an introduction to etching your own PCBs at home, we couldn’t think of a better first board. As an Arduino, you’re guaranteed to find some use for it and the ease of manufacture and low parts count makes it the perfect subject for your hackerspace’s next tutorial series.

Hackaday’s duelling marble mazes are dead

Well, the whole RedBull Creation contest has finally wrapped up. We’re back home and fully recovered from our weekend at MakerFaire. I want to thank the Redbull crew for making the weekend very fun and the crew from Squidfoo for being an awesome team.

Now that all the “thank you” statements are out of the way, lets talk about what happened. Kids trashed our game. Right off the bat we noticed our construction wasn’t going to hold up to the abuse. It was designed, built, and tested in such a short time that we really had no idea how it would hold up under the weight of the masses. As it turns out, we should have gone much, much, more rugged. It was destroyed almost immediately.

[Read more...]

LED wand brings ergonomics to light painting

Quit struggling with hastily patched together electronics for your light painting images. Follow [Madox's] example and build a light painting wand designed with your hand in mind.

You wield it much like a sword, but the only damage it does is to the long-exposure camera pointed its way. The RGB LED strip is controlled by the guts of a tiny little wireless router, a TP-Link TL-WR703N. This lets [Madox] connect using an Android device to upload different images. It also lets you tweak the settings like adjusting the timing between columns to match your exposure settings. The custom handle design provides a home and mounting plan for everything involved. It was 3D printed at the Sydney Hackerspace.

This isn’t the first light painting device running Linux. We’ve actually seen the Raspberry Pi used in much the same way but that final project involved using an entire recumbent tricycle to move the colored lights.

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