Find all your DIY electronics in the MakerShed. 3D Printing, Kits, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, Books & more!

Ever since I started making projects with the Arduino, I’ve had a desire to shrink them down to a single, small circuit board. One of my first projects, a customizable SLR intervalometer, was packed in a phonebook-sized cardboard box and used the Arduino Deumilanove connected to a breadboard with jumper wires. I brought the box out to Central Park at 5am to make a timelapse of the sunrise, but when I got to the park, I spent 20 minutes fixing the connections between the Arduino, the breadboard, and the components. Since then, I’ve explored a few different ways of shrinking projects down and making them more robust. For the intervalometer, I designed a circuit board that had female header pins to seat an Arduino Nano. It was a huge improvement on the design, but I knew I could do a lot better.

I tried to teach myself AVR programming, but ran into a lot of snags along the way. By the time I got an LED to blink, I had invested hours in the project (a stark contrast to my first Arduino experience) and was feeling quite discouraged. I also tried using PICAXE chips. While it was much easier to get started with these chips than with AVR programming, I felt like I was abandoning all my years of C programming to learn a form of BASIC that’s an entirely different animal from when I used it as a kid.

Blinking an LED with an ATTiny Chip
When I came across this tutorial by MIT Media Lab’s High-Low Tech Group, I was elated. They walk you through the process of using the Arduino IDE and programming language to program 8 pin ATtiny45 or ATtiny85 chips. Not only that, but they also walk you through using an Arduino board to act as the programmer, or ISP. I had everything I needed, except for the chips, so I eagerly awaited my rush shipment of ATtinies.

I followed the tutorial and found that it was actually rather easy to program these little chips using the Arduino code and IDE. I tried out the basic digital and analog I/O functions and they all worked as expected. I did a little experimentation with a few other functions with some success, so your milage may vary. To test it all out, I even made a cute little blinky toy within about an hour. I’m now thinking about revisiting my intervalometer project and shrinking it down from a cardboard box to a mini Altoids tin!

Subscribe to the MAKE Podcast in iTunes, download the m4v video directly, or watch it on YouTube and Vimeo.

More:

MattRichardson

Matt Richardson

Matt Richardson is a San Francisco-based creative technologist, Contributing Editor at MAKE. He’s the co-author of Getting Started with Raspberry Pi and the author of Getting Started with BeagleBone.


Related
blog comments powered by Disqus

Related Supplies at Maker Shed

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 26,141 other followers