THP Entry: Tinusaur AVR Platform Teaches Noobs, Plays Game Of Life

tinusaur[Neven Boyanov] says there’s nothing special about Tinusaur, the bite-sized platform for learning and teaching the joys of programming AVRs. But if you’re dying to gain a deeper understanding of your Arduino or are looking to teach someone else the basics, you may disagree with that assessment.

Tinusaur is easy to assemble and contains only the components necessary for ATTiny13/25/45/85 operation (the kit comes with an ’85). [Neven] saved space and memory by forgoing USB voltage regulator. An optional button cell mount and jumper are included in the kit.

[Neven] is selling boards and kits through the Tinusaur site, or you can get the board from a few 3rd party vendors. His site has some projects and useful guides for assembling and driving your Tinusaur. He recently programmed it to play Conway’s Game of Life on an 8×8 LED matrix. If you’re looking for the zero-entry side of the AVR swimming pool, you can program it from the Arduino IDE. Be warned, though; they aren’t fully compatible.

SpaceWrencherThe project featured in this post is an entry in The Hackaday Prize. Build something awesome and win a trip to space or hundreds of other prizes.

17 thoughts on “THP Entry: Tinusaur AVR Platform Teaches Noobs, Plays Game Of Life

  1. It is very nice and it is tiny. However, considering that you can get an arduino nano clone with full USB support, LOTS of I/O, and a much more powerful atmega328 for about the same price ($6-7), then I am not sure what the point of this board is, unless one can get it for ~$3.

    1. The goal of this project is to learn things – it’s for beginners. To learn how to choose and get the parts, to solder them to the PCB, setup dev environment and to write the simplest programs in plain C language.

      In no way it competes with Arduino and its derivatives.

    1. No, there is no voltage regulator on the board and it is because of its purpose. Here some of the reasons:
      – while writing code the board gets power from the programmer.
      – while running by itself it gets power from the cell battery mounted on the bottom of the board.
      – if you’re going to use it for bigger project (which is unlikely to happen given the limited number of I/O’s) you may put the voltage regulator on the external board that has the additional components.

      Another reason, which may not sound very convincing, but it was valid in a particular case (a personal project) … the simplest voltage regulators consume (waste actually) some additional energy from the battery – unless you use switching regulator.

    2. Err, plenty of battery powered projects don’t have regulators, especially single lithium cells or lithium coin cells. It sounds reasonable to expect USB power to be approximately 5V, I’d put a 1uF or so cap on it too. There are all kinds of cheap voltage and current testers to look at the Vbus of your port.

  2. This seems like quite the reach to get a THP entry…
    There does not seem to be any benefit. I would never use it in a project due to the lack of a voltage regulator and odd method of disconnected power from the coin cell. I fear a noob would cook the battery, not be able to program it, or not be able to find support.

    1. Yes, a noob could cook the battery – especially if the programmer gives 5V (at 3.3V there are chances for survival) and if they DID NOT read the guide on the website – which most people don’t do.

      I’m planning to put some sort of “ideal diode” to protect the batter from back-charging but haven’t found simple and cheap solution yet. (and open to any suggestions)

      We use these boards already to teach kids in local school and students in our university so there is support for them but on more global level you’re right – you have to find a pro to help you.

  3. The LPC810 ARM Cortex M0+ runs in a 8-DIP without ANY supporting components and at 32-bit@48MHz.
    It does so with 6GPIO because 2 of the legs are required for the power.

    How many breakout boards are required with the -ino tag before people realize the chip runs fine by itself?

    Getting sick of this :(

    1. The LPC810 looks great. I haven’t played with it but it looks it has good parameters – except maybe the 4K flash for programs.

      The biggest advantage of the “duinos” is the community that was established in the past few years – you can find solution to almost any problem you may have.

      But please note that the Tinusaur Project is NOT an Arduino derivative. In fact it is not just the board – it is the board, plus the tutorials, plus some knowledge that we’re trying to put in documents …. something that you can use to teach yourself or oters

    1. The purpose of breadboarding is to prototype – after you’re done you take everything apart and you put it on a PCB.

      With this (Tinusaur) board you can do prototyping as well – as you can see the 2 headers could be used to put wires and connect external components. After you’re done you can keep things together, specially if you’re student, … to show it to others or even use it if it is something of practical worth.

  4. i test it and if you don’t provide the correct vcc (5.0 or 3V3) some part of your code doen’t execute correctly (serial comunication or servo pwm code). please stay close to attiny power requirements. but of course some part of other code could still run well…..

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