AVR microcontrollers – why should I use them?
The first reason to learn AVR programming is a great availability of hardware tools – development boards, modules as well as hardware programming interfaces with USB port. Beside powerful and sophisticated JTAG programmers AVR microcontrollers can be also programmed by one of many simple, but really reliable ISP programmers. AVR microcontrollers can be used with various software development environments, mainly under open source license. AVR Studio is one of most advanced and powerful software for AVR development, but there is also a lot of other options, depending on what operating system you use and what are your design needs or preferences. Many developers use open source toolchain (including linker and cross-compiler) with Eclipse IDE – this solution is incredibly flexible due to wide range Eclipse’s plug-ins and huge support by internet forums and tutorials. The next reason is simple instruction set (assembly language implementation) and high quality of manufacturer’s documentation – it seriously ease learning of low-level software development. If you don’t want to use assembly language, you can of course write your programs in higher-level languages like C, BASIC or even Python. There is also a lot of free libraries for various integrated circuits, displays and modules available on the market.
Hardware programers for AVR MCU
In our store you can find a lot of hardware programming interfaces falling into two groups. USBasp is a simple, but reliable programmer designed by Thomas Fischl and published as an open project on his site. There are different versions of this design, some of them have built-in USB B port, other are equipped with on-board USB A plug, so there is no need to use an external USB cable. Most of AVR programmers use 10-pin IDC connector compatbile with ISP KANDA standard pinout. AVR ProgUSB MKII ECO is a low cost, high quality AVR programmer providing driver compatibility with famous AVRISP-MKII interface. There is also another standard of hardware interfaces for AVR microcontrollers – STK500. In out store you can find Pololu’s version of this programmer - it’s much cheaper than original and provides 100% compatibility. If you don’t know which programmer will fit your needs, please check your IDE specs, because there are some differences in hardware compatibility, for example between AVR Studio and Eclipse-based IDE.
Evaluation boards and modules for AVR microcontrollers
If you want to learn AVR programming, you can also find here a plenty of evaluation modules and starter kits that allow you to easily start learning and testing your design ideas. Great choose for beginners is a development kit EvB 5.1 based on 40-pin ATMega32 microcontroller. On the board you can also find 2x16-chars LCD with blue backlight, 4-digit 7-segment LED display, a set of micro switches, digital temperature sensor with 1-Wire interface, RS485 serial bus converter, infrared receiver, EEPROM memory, LED indicators and a lot of pinheaders for interconnection of the peripherals with GPIO lines of the AVR processor. If you are a robotics enthusiast, you should check our offer of educational mobile robots from Pololu – for example, the m3pi robot allows you to develop your own programs using popular Arduino IDE and provides easy switch to more powerful 32-bit ARM processor thanks to built-in slot on the top board of the robot. In our store you can also find useful modules based on AVR microcontrollers, for example Trinket – a tiny evaluation module (only 31 x 15,5 x 5 mm!) equipped with ATtiny85 mircocontroller, mini USB connector, reset switch and power supply circuitry.