16 core computer made of ATMegas


Your desktop has two, four, or even eight cores, but when’s the last time you’ve seen a multicore homebrew computer? [Jack] did just that, constructing the DUO Mega, a 16 core computer out of a handful of ATMega microcontrollers.

From [Jack]’s description, there are 15 ‘worker’ cores, each with their own 16MHz crystal and connection to an 8-bit data bus. When the machine is turned on, the  single ‘manager’ core – also an ATMega328 – polls all the workers and loads a program written in a custom bytecode onto each core. The cores themselves have access to a shared pool of RAM (32k), a bit of Flash, a VGA out port, and an Ethernet controller attached to the the master core.

Since [Jack]’s DUO Mega computer has multiple cores, it excels at multitasking. In the video below, you can see the computer moving between a calculator app, a weird Tetris-like game, and a notepad app. The 16 cores in the DUO Mega also makes difficult calculations a lot faster; he can generate Mandelbrot patterns faster than any 8-bit microcontroller can alone, and also generates prime numbers at a good click.

Continue reading “16 core computer made of ATMegas”

Programming microcontrollers with a Raspi


The advent of the Arduino brought the world of microcontrollers to hobbyists, students, and artist the world over. Right now we’re in the midst of a new expansion in hobbyist electronics with the Raspberry Pi, but we can’t expect everyone to stay in the comfortable, complex, and power-hungry world of Linux forever, can we? Eventually all those tinkerers will want to program a microcontroller, and if they already have a Raspberry Pi, why not use that?

[Kevin] wanted to turn his Raspi into an AVR development workstation, without using any external programmers. He decided to use the Raspi’s SPI port to talk to an AVR microcontroller and was able to make the electrical connections with just a few bits of wire an a handful of resistors.

For the software, [Kevin] added support for SPI to avrdude, available on his git. Theoretically, this should work with any AVR microcontroller with the most popular ATMegas and ATtinys we’ve come to love. It doesn’t support the very weird chips that use TPI programming, but it’s still extremely useful.

Pinoccio – An Ecosystem for the Internet of Things


[Pinoccio] is currently an Indeigogo crowd-sourced project that aims use the real-world programmability of the Arduino through the internet using a wifi connection. One could rightly point out that this can already be done through the use of a wifi shield. Before ruling this device out, just “shush your shussins” and consider that it’s designed specifically for interfacing with “things” over the internet. This can replace several components (see 1:10 in the video after the break) and should be less of a hassle.

Additionally, with a shield on one of these devices, several other [Pinoccio] boards can communicate with the Internet using this as a hub in a mesh network. This is similar to how the many “smart” electrical meters work, with a grid router being a central hub for communications. Additionally, this board has a built in temperature sensor and a RGB (instead of a single-color) LED, so you can do some interesting stuff with it right out of the box. Assuming this project gets funded, which seems likely at this point, we’re excited to see the projects that get built using it! Continue reading “Pinoccio – An Ecosystem for the Internet of Things”

The ultimate low-cost dev board

We see a lot of microcontroller dev boards here at Hackaday, so much that we’re jokingly considering changing our name to Board a Day. These devices – from Arduinos to Arduino-compatible boards, very, very small boards, to extremely powerful ARM devices – are a great way to learn about the wonders of controlling electricity with code. There’s a problem, though: if you’re teaching a class on programming microcontrollers, giving each student a $20 board is nearly out of the question.

This is where the shrimp comes in. It’s a very, very minimal Arduino-compatible circuit meant to control all the pins on an ATMega328. The components only cost about £1.40 ($2.25 USD) when bought in volume, making it perfect for teaching a class or workshop on the Arduino and giving each student a circuit to take home.

The basic circuit is just an ATMega328 – the same microcontroller used in the Arduino Uno – with a few caps, resistors, and a 16 MHz crystal. It’s a very bare-bones system, but once built and programmed provides all the functionality of a $25 Arduino.

Like all microcontroller platforms, there’s the chicken-and-egg problem of actually programming the device. The Shrimp team is using a CP2102 USB to UART bridge to program each shrimp. Not an inexpensive part, but it is of course possible to only have one serial bridge for each workshop.

OpenPLC, for industrial automation to Halloween displays

Stepping out onto just about any factory floor you’ll find complex automatons building anything and everything imaginable. These machines need to be controlled somehow and before the age of computers these manufacturing robots were controlled with relays wired together to produce a multitude of actions. Relays, no matter how reliable and bulletproof the are, can’t be programmed without rewiring the entire machine. Now, factories have programmable logic controllers to take care of their automation tasks.

[Thiago] built his own programmable logic controller and released it as open hardware.Included in the OpenPLC are four 24V inputs, four 24V outputs (two with PWM), 0-10V analog inputs, and USB, SPI, and I2C for programming and expansion.

If you’re building anything from an industrial machine in your garage, or simply want really awesome Halloween (or Christmas) decorations, the OpenPLC can take care of driving all the solenoids, motors, and actuators needed. With the extendable I2C and SPI busses, it’s possible to add a plethora of sensors to bring a project to life.

The OpenPLC is based on an ATMega328 and is compatible with Arduino code. There are a few extension boards for digital and analog IO, as well as Ethernet.

Emulating the DCPU on an AVR

[skywodd] just finished his own DCPU emulator (French, translation) based on [notch]’s upcoming game, 0x10c. The neat thing about [skywodd]’s build is his emulator uses the lowly ATMega328, the same microcontroller found in (some) Arduinos.

The DCPU specification goes over the operations required of any DCPU emulator. There’s a lot of crazy stuff here – a division instruction that takes only 3 clock cycles, using an overflow for carry conditions, and a complete lack of a JMP instruction – but [skywodd] was able to tease something apart from DCPU studio and a VGA interface

Everything in this emulator is built on a solderless breadboard, but the ROM and RAM isn’t complete yet. As of now, everything is handled by the ‘328, using 478 bytes of RAM on the microprocessor.

We promised we would be holding a contest for the best physical implementation of the DCPU when we caught wind of 0x10c, and [skywodd]’s build is starting to look like the beginnings of the winning entry. We honestly have no idea when we’ll be holding this contest, but it’ll probably be shortly after the first playable release. Go bug [notch] if you’d like to speed up the progress, because obviously Twitter abuse speeds up software development.

Defense Against the Dog Arts

It’s possible that it was [Matt Meerian]’s awesome pun that won us over, not his ultrasonic bicycle dog defense system, but that would be silly. [Matt] wanted an elegant solution to a common problem when riding a bicycle, dogs. While, obscenities, ammonia, water, pepper spray, and others were suggested, they all had cons that just didn’t appeal to [Matt]. He liked the idea of using C02 powered high pressure sound waves to chase the dogs away with, but decided to choose a more electronic approach.  He used a Atmel ATmega644 as the MCU, four 25kHz transmitters, and two 40kHz transmitters. When the rider sees a dog he simply flips a switch and it activates the transducers (along with, cleverly, a human audible horn so he doesn’t have to look down to know it’s working). So far [Matt] has not had a dog chase him in order to test it’s efficacy, but his cat clearly seems unaffected by the device as you can see after the break. Continue reading “Defense Against the Dog Arts”