You guys will buy your AVRs from … Microchip from now on :)

atmel-vs-microchip-

It’s done! The painful and slow sinking of Atmel seems to be over now.

We knew for a long time that thing do not go well with Atmel due to their poor management. The Arduino wave kept them for a while above the water level, but in September 2015 they announced that are about to sign with the world unknown company Dialog Semiconductor deal for $4.8 billions mostly with shares exchange, but as the time pass the shares of Dialog Semiconductor went down and this deal was looking not so attractive as before, and Microchip offer for $3.56 billions in shares become more attractive!

Microchip in other hand continue to expand and never have been better – they are buying company after company and already have the IC portfolio of SMSC, MICREL, SST, Novocell etc etc and what is better, each time they buy company they improve the availability and make these chips more easier to buy and deal with. This with the nice application notes and support is the Microchip receipt for success.

Our experience with SMSC and MICREL was that these companies were working with just big customers and smaller companies couldn’t buy directly, while Microchip sales channels can satisfy both big and small customers. After Microchip bought  these companies, they improved the availability and made these chips easier to buy for the small customers. Atmel is in the same state – probably this was the major reason to sink, although Atmel have similar products like Microchip and even better open source software support, they sales are terrible hard to deal with. Many components prices go unexpected up and down as Atmel production capabilities are humble, once some big customer place large order for one chip they stop making others and this make impossible to use them for serious projects. Once you put AVR in your product it is not unlikely these chips suddenly to go on allocation due to the poor management and planning Altmel has, something which (almost) never happen to Microchip.

I guess Microchip will not cut AVRs supply but it’s unlickely they will keep developing this line when they put so much efforts in the PICs, to keep duplicate development teams for similar products is not practically. More probably is they to invest in ARM line expansion as this is something they missed yet.

For years Microchip top management was like mule on bridge not wanting to step ahead 🙂 They were refusing to buy ARM licensee and bet on MIPS and they were missing a lot of sale opportunities with this odd decision. Whatever they do with PIC32 it’s not so successful like the STM32s and LPCs and they miss sales for millions $$$. This is not because MIPS architecture is bad, quite opposite it’s well developed in networking devices, but MIPS Soc from Mediatek running Linux at 400Mhz cost $2 while Microchip sells MIPS PIC32 with no MMU running at 80Mhz for $5-6.

Now with Atmel they got lot of ARM licensees and with their efficient manufacturing and great sale channels this give them access to the ARM sale market and other companies got strong competitor.

New Product in Stock: Open Source Hardware Simon-85 game assembled and as kit

SIMON-85-KIT

Simon-85 is based on the popular Simon says game and check and train your short time memory. It’s sold as DIY kit but also as assembled and tested board:

SIMON-85-1

To run the game you need USB-A-B cable or LiPo battery. In case you want to use battery you may also need charger for it.

Inside the game there is ATiny85 microcontroller with micronucleus bootloader which allow the board to be re-programmed with Digispark’s Arduino IDE. All sources are on our web and you can download and modify the game yourself. No need for external programmers etc.

When power is applied after 5 seconds the four LEDs will flash for a while and the game will wait you to choose difficulties “Level”. There are 4 levels for sequencies of 10-20-30-40 LED blink patterns. Depend on which button you press BUT1,BUT2,BUT3,BUT4 the game will start at the corresponding level. You will hear Super Mario Bros theme and LEDs will blink then the game will start and you have to repeat the LED blink pattern you see.

If you make mistake the game will over and you can start it again. Each time you complete the pattern correctly the game will flash new one which is one more blink longer. Each new game starts with random pattern so you can’t memorize these.

Simon-85 assembled and tested cost EUR 7.95 the kit is EUR 5.95.

Assembling Simon-85-KIT is good way kids and beginners to learn basic electronics components and how to solder.

$3 Arduino? Possible! Holly Molly Chinese AVR clones are coming – meet LGT8F88A MAVR core processor

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Yesteday I read interesting blog post at CNX-Soft blog about new Arduino clone which sells for $8, so far nothing new, you can’t beat Chinese in prices or post shipping rates.

What was really interesting for me though is that it uses Chinese AVR clone instead of ATMega32U4 or ATMega328.

The company behind this clone is called Logic Green and it uses MAVR (hahaha) processor core for these chips.

The features are humble 8K Flash, 1K RAM, 504B EEPROM, they say it works from 1.8 to 5.0V and supports up to 32Mhz clock which beats normal AVRs, but with the Chinese specs there is always catch, you can never believe them until you test as normal AVRs can be also overclocked to 50Mhz but it is not safe to use them at such frequencies and Atmel will never publish specs which are not throughly tested.

Reading the data on the web site I understand that with their aim to “improve” this chip they made some instructions to execute faster than in the normal AVR which will lead to software incompatibilities when your code depend on tight timings.

So Adruino based on this clone chip may or may not work completely as basically these chips run code with different timing. Of course it’s possible to go through all libraries and update timing etc but I doubt the Chinese Arduino vendor will bother to do this.

Brief check on the price of LGT8F88A through Chinese sources shows $0.60, so if they have used Monocleus bootloader as on Tiny85 instead of separate USB-RS232 bridge CP2102 they may came up with $3 Arduino made just with LGT8F88A 🙂 of course the bootloader will probably not work out of the box due to the different timing.

Web Server with MOD-IO + MOD-ENC28J60

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Doing embedded Web servers with microcontrollers is not new but Andrew Rossignol blogged recently that he made embedded Web Server with MOD-IO and MOD-ENC28J60, the catch is that MOD-IO have ATMega16 microcontrollers with only 16KB Flash and 1K RAM!

You can read more about his implementation on his blog

Good work!

AVReAl – Closed Source Freeware ISP programmer for AVR supporting ARM-USB-OCD-H and ARM-USB-TINY-H

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AVReAl is freeware which allow you to program quite few AVRs with FT2232 based programmers like our ARM-USB-OCD-H and ARM-USB-TINY-H.

This way you can use the programmers for both porgramming and debugging ARMs and programming AVRs so no need to buy additional AVR programmer.

Shame the sources are closed so the community can’t improve it and re-use. I always do wonder if you make one software freeware why you would keep the sources closed (ahamed by the maccoronee style programming mayby? or putting malware inside 😀 ).

Souliss – Home Automation with AVR-T32U4 + WIFI + MODIO2

Souliss is Smart Home Automation you can learn more for the project at http://www.souliss.net/
On this video you can see AVR-T32U4 running Arduino sketch + MOD-WIFI which adds WIFI connectivity + MOD-IO2 which adds two relays and GPIOs and aplication running on Android phone which controls them.
Great work Dario!

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FRIDAY FREE BOARD QUIZ ISSUE #18 PRIZE IS AVR-T32U4

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AVR-T32U4 is Arduino Leonardo compatible i.e. you can develop with Arduino IDE and at the same time Breadboard friendly.

With this board you can easily make your projects without soldering.

The T-shape board idea ws first invented by Ken Segler and we love it as it allow to feed your power supply to the breadboard too.

Today at 17.00 o’clock our local Bulgarian time (GMT+2) we will post on Twitter our question.

You have one hour to reply to our tweet with the correct answer.

At 18.00 o’clock we will count the correct answers and ask random.org to generate random number in range then anнounce the winner and ship the board by airmail next Monday.

Good luck!

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