Sparkfun Ships 2000 MicroViews Without Bootloaders


Everyone has a bad day right? Monday was a particularly bad day for the folks at Sparkfun. Customer support tickets started piling up, leading to the discovery that they had shipped out as many as 1,934 MicroViews without bootloaders.

MicroView is the tiny OLED enabled, Arduino based, microcontroller system which had a wildly successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this year. [Marcus Schappi], the project creator, partnered up with SparkFun to get the MicroViews manufactured and shipped out to backers. This wasn’t a decision made on a whim, Sparkfun had proven themselves by fulfilling over 11,000 Makey Makey boards to backers of that campaign.

Rather than downplay the issue, Sparkfun CEO [Nathan Seidle] has taken to the company blog to explain what happened, how it happened, and what they’re going to do to make it right for their customers. This positions them as the subject of our Fail of the Week column where we commiserate instead of criticize.

First things first, anyone who receives an affected MicroView is getting a second working unit shipped out by the beginning of November. Furthermore, the bootloaderless units can be brought to life relatively easily. [Nate] provided a hex file with the correct bootloader. Anyone with an Atmel AVR In-System Programming (ISP) programmer and a steady hand can bring their MicroView to life. Several users have already done just that. The bootloader only has to be flashed via ISP once. After that, the MicroView will communicate via USB to a host PC. Sparkfun will publish a full tutorial in a few weeks.

Click past the break to read the rest of the story.

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Programming Micros With Impossibly Cheap Bluetooth Adapters


[Zenios] and [Raivis] are building a small balancing robot, and for communications to the outside world, they’re using a small, extremely cheap Bluetooth adapter. They figured uploading code to the microcontroller over Bluetooth would be a good idea, but their adapter, a cheap HC-06 module, had no way of resetting the microcontroller; it just provided Tx and Rx the serial port. They did notice a LED blinked when a device wasn’t connected to the adapter, so with a simple circuit they kludged a reset circuit where it wasn’t intended.

The small LED on the HC-06 module blinks when nothing is connected, and remains on when a connection is established. Figuring a new connection would be a good time to upload new code, the guys needed to design a circuit that would stay low when the LED was blinking, and switch to high when the LED was on.

A simple RC filter took care of the blinking LED, keeping the line low until a device connected. Bringing the logic level high when the LED stayed solid required digging through a part drawer, eventually finding an LM741 p differential amplifier.

After a few small changes to the bootloader, the guys had a reliable means of flashing new firmware without the need of programming adapters or wires draped over their workspace, all with a Bluetooth adapter that shouldn’t have this capability. Video below.

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Optiboot makes your Arduino faster, sleeker

Tired of waiting for that Arduino sketch to upload? Find yourself limited by code space? Optiboot eases both of these problems. The package is an alternative bootloader that runs at a higher baud rate (115200 versus 57600) and it takes up 1.5 KB less space than the stock version. This means your sketches can be larger without upgrading to a beefier chip and they will take less time to upload, a lot less.

This fully compatible alternative to the Arduino bootloader requires an AVR ISP programmer to burn it to the chip on your Arduino. If you have an extra AVR lying around you could use the Arduino as a programmer and then physically swap the chips.

[Thanks Peter]


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