Breaking Out The ATtiny10

Atmel’s ATtiny10 is the one microcontroller in their portfolio that earns its name. It doesn’t have a lot of Flash – only 1 kilobyte. It doesn’t have a lot of RAM – only thirty two bytes. It is, however, very, very small. Atmel stuffed this tiny microcontroller into an SOT-23 package, more commonly used for surface mount transistors. It’s small, and unless your ideal application is losing this chip in your carpet, you’re going to need a breakout board. [Dan] has just the solution. He could have made this breakout board smaller, but OSHpark has a minimum size limit. Yes, this chip is very, very small.

Because this chip is so small, it doesn’t use the normal in-system programming port of its larger brethren. The ATtiny10 uses the Tiny Programming Interface, or TPI, which only requires power, ground, data, clock, and a reset pin. Connecting these pins to the proper programming header is easy enough, and with a careful layout, [Dan] fit everything into a breakout board that’s a hair smaller than a normal 8-pin DIP.

The board works perfectly, but simply soldering the ATtiny10 to a breakout board and using it as is probably isn’t the best idea. The reason you use such a small microcontroller is to put a microcontroller into something really, really small like ridiculous LED cufflinks. A breakout board is much too large for a project like this, but SOT23 test adapters exist, and they’re only $25 or so.

Either way, [Dan] now has a very, very small microcontroller board that can fit just about anywhere. There’s a lot you can do with one kilobyte of Flash, and with an easy way to program these chips, we can’t wait to see what [Dan] comes up with.

Programming the ATtiny10 with an Arduino

The ATtiny10 – along with its younger siblings that go by the names ATtiny 4, 5, and 9 – are the smallest microcontrollers Atmel makes. With only 32 bytes of RAM and 1 kB of Flash, there’s still whole lot you can do with this tiny six-pin chip. [feynman17] figured out a way to program this chip using an Arduino, allowing him to throw just about anything at this absurdly small microcontroller.

The ATtiny10 doesn’t use the familiar ISP programming header found on other Atmel-based boards. Instead, it uses the exceedingly odd Tiny Programming Interface to write bits to the Flash on the chip. [feynman17] realized he could use the Arduino SPI library to communicate with this chip and built a small programming shield with just a few resistors and a 8-pin DIP socket to mount an ATtiny10 breakout board.

After writing a sketch to upload a .hex file from the Arduino serial console, [feynman] had a programmed ATtiny10, ready to be dropped into whatever astonishingly small project he had in mind.

As for what you can do with this small microcontroller, chiptunes are always an option, as is making a very, very small Simon clone. It may not be a powerhouse, but there’s still a lot you can do with this very inexpensive microcontroller.

Making chiptunes with 32 bytes of RAM

Ah, chiptunes. One of the few remaining human endeavours where less RAM, less storage space, and fewer capabilities are actually considered an improvement. [dop3joe] over at the Stuttgart hackerspace Shackspace sent in a tiny chiptune playing circuit using the most bare-bones hardware we’ve ever seen.

The Noiseplug, as [dop3joe] calls it, is based on a very, very small 6 pin ATtiny9. With 1 kB of Flash memory and only 32 bytes of RAM [dop3joe] was able to create a small device inside an RCA jack that plays chiptunes whenever it is powered by a battery.

If you’d like to make your own noise plug, [dop3j0e] put all the code up in his Git. There are two relevant pieces of software for this build: a Windows app to create the chiptunes, and the ATtiny9 firmware itself. Of course to program the tiny, you’ll have to deal with the Atmel TPI, so here’s the application note (PDF).

Oh, [dop3joe] won third place at the Evoke demoscene party last weekend with the Noiseplug. Awesome.