Tag Archives: AVR



Say hell-o to Diavolino. Yes, it’s yet-another Arduino compatible board, but it’s cheap and kind of neat. Simplified design, rounded corners, and shiny. Open source kit. You can get one at our store here.

We designed this primarily in response to local need in our San Francisco hacker community for low-cost boards for teaching.

In many ways, this project is reminiscent of and complimentary to our ATmegaXX8 target boards, which are low-cost, simple design circuit boards for programming AVR microcontrollers through an ISP connection. And while you can add one, those boards don’t have a place to put a USB-TTL cable. And so here we are. Continue reading Diavolino

Say hello to xmega

xmega - 2

We’ve been big fans of AVR microcontrollers for a few years now. If you look around our site a bit, you might find quite a few AVR projects. And our little friends the ATtiny2313 and the ATmega328P have become our go-to chips for many different purposes.

And, while none of that is changing, something that just seems better has come along. Or rather, a better AVR has come along.

Continue reading Say hello to xmega

Basics (updated): Using an accelerometer with an AVR microcontroller

ADXL335 - 10

Some time ago, we wrote up a tutorial about using an ADXL330 accelerometer with an AVR microcontroller. A couple of years have passed, and so we’ve returned to update and clean up some loose ends on this project.
Continue reading Basics (updated): Using an accelerometer with an AVR microcontroller

Rovin Pumpkin

Rovin pumpkin - 01

The Rovin’ Pumpkin’ is a simple robotic pumpkin, and a close cousin of the Snap-O-Lantern. Silently, it sits on your porch– camouflaged amongst the humble squashes.

After a minute, its green eyes start to glow, and it creeps… moving about one foot to the left… and stops. The eyes go dark again. It fades into the darkness. And it waits.

Continue reading Rovin Pumpkin

Basics: Serial communication with AVR microcontrollers

Serial Port Added

One of the distinguishing characteristics of beginner-friendly microcontroller platforms– Arduino, PICAXE, and a few dozen others– is that they neatly wrap up and hide the nuts-and-bolts details of interfacing with the hardware.

Like everything else, it’s a blessing and a curse. The benefits are clear: A new user who has just acquired an Arduino can plug it in, blink an LED, and have a working demonstration of two-way serial communication in just a few minutes.

The drawbacks are a little harder to see. When you just use one line of initialization that calls a “library,” it’s easy to overlook exactly what’s involved: how many lines of code have invisibly been added to your program? What memory structures have been allocated? What interrupts are now going to disrupt program flow and timing? There’s also a portability issue. We often hear from people who got started with Arduino but now want to explore other AVR microcontroller systems, and don’t know how or where to start the migration process.

In what follows we discuss a minimal setup for serial communication with AVR microcontrollers, and give two example implementations, on an ATmega168 and on an ATtiny2313. While this fundamental “AVR 101” stuff, we’re approaching the problem (this time) from the migration standpoint. Suppose that you had an Arduino based project, where you relied on serial communication– using the library functions–between that hardware and your computer. From there, how would you migrate to a stand-alone AVR microcontroller with similar functionality, or even to a different microcontroller?
Continue reading Basics: Serial communication with AVR microcontrollers

Tiny portable AVR projects: ATtiny2313 breakout boards

2313Card - 6
We use a lot of our ATmegaXX8 “business card” breakout boards for the ATmega168 microcontroller. We also still wire up a lot of minimal target boards to use the ATtiny2313 microcontroller, so here’s the missing piece: A simple breakout board for the ATtiny2313.

Continue reading Tiny portable AVR projects: ATtiny2313 breakout boards

Business card AVR breakout boards: Version 1.1

Card version 1.1

We’ve just released a new version of our super-handy business card sized target board for programming 28-pin AVR microcontrollers like the ATmega168 and ATmega328. These are just the thing for programming these chips through an ISP programmer like the USBtinyISP.

We use these for a lot of our simple microcontroller projects; Tennis For Two and the Lissajous POV come to mind. The new version has basically the same design but adds some extra prototyping area and makes the holes big enough to accept a ZIF socket:

Like the original version of this target board, this circuit board is a fully open source hardware design. For much more information– including the detailed design files– please see the update that we’ve added to the end of our original article about this project.

ATmega328 in the wild


This will be interesting to a small subset of our readers, but we’re finally seeing ATmega328P chips in the wild. This is a new chip from Atmel that is nearly identical to– but with twice the memory of– the popular ATmega168 microcontroller, the microcontroller in the Arduino and in our (Arduino-compatible) Peggy 2.0. They are still in short supply, but they’ll be a lot of fun to play with. :)

In the photo is one of these on one of our “business card” AVR target boards that we designed for the ATmega48, ’88, ‘168, and ‘328, so it’s finally lived up to its name.

70 bits of gaming goodness

mignonette - 04

The Mignonette is a minimalist handheld gaming platform that we helped to design in a collaboration with Rolf van Widenfelt and Mitch Altman.

The Mignonette is based on an AVR microcontroller (either the ATmega88 or ATmega168) hooked up to drive a 5×7 bicolor red/green LED matrix display, for a grand total of 70 bits of gaming goodness under your total control.

Continue reading 70 bits of gaming goodness

20 millicenturies of Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories


Happy birthday to us! Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories is now two years of age. Collected below is a “Best of Evil Mad Scientist” for the past year: Some of our favorite projects that we’ve published over the last twelve months. Here’s to the next year!

Quick projects:

Set of bands
Rubberbands made from old bicycle innertubes.

vertical light tent setup
Light tent made from a lampshade.

Still life with yellow paper (group shot 2)
Chip bugs


Spool spinner from an old fan.

Quick C to D adapter
The $1.00 C to D adapter

Electronics projects

Weekend Projects Podcast!
How to make a Joule Thief from Make: Weekend Projects.

lights off?
How to make a dark-detecting LED night light.

The Great Internet Migratory Box Of Electronics Junk
The Great Internet Migratory Box of Electronic Junk

Finished 1
How to make a Sawed-off USB Key

AVR microcontroller projects

Using an ADXL330 accelerometer with an AVR microcontroller

Snapper - 09

Kit Projects

AVR Target Boards

Four Panels 2
Interactive Table Kits

Resist1- Wall hanging

Peggy v 2.0

Crafty Projects

Q*bert close-up

vintage software book handbag
Software Handbag

iPod inside
iPod cozy

Earrings 2
Fimo Fractals

Miniature Art Car
Mini Art Cars

New wing
Umbrella Bat Costume v 2.0

Food Hacking

Cooking hotdogs

555 LED flasher 1
Circuitry Snacks

Googly FSM
Edible Googly Eyes

Sierpinski Cookies-11
Fractal Cookies


Sugar Chain
Printing complex shapes: Sugar Chain

Before and after 2
Candyfab improvements: higher resolution and edible output


Usage 3: First operand
Rotary Fraction Adding Machine

toner - 15
Electric Origami

Observations & silly projects:

Cat volume computation
Volume of a cat

Pacman Halloween

Lego Projects:

Lego Shooter
Forbidden Lego review & build

Technic Bits
Efficient Lego Storage


suction tool
Obscure electronics tools

Lee Valley & Veritas catalog
Lee Valley & Veritas Catalog Review


Twisted leads (close-up)
LED Stoplight

All the parts
hp2600n - 178
HP Color LaserJet 2600n