Friday, February 17, 2012

STK 200: Getting Started Programming Guide

To start programming the STK 200, you need to download some software. Namely, you need AVR Studio and AVRISP-U. I talked about the basic layout of the board in a previous post (link), so check that out if some of the terms I am using are unfamiliar. I broke the process into three steps below.

Step 1 - Download AVR Studio 5: I started programming with AVR Studio 4, but if you are starting today, you might as well start with the new AVR Studio 5 release. The program is built using the Microsoft Visual Studio Shell (VSS) so the user interface is very similar to Visual Studio. I suppose this can be a good thing for those who like Visual Studio and a bad thing for those who don't. Overall, it seems to have a lot of convenient features such as IntelliSense and debugging interface.

So to get the software, go to the AVR Studio 5 page (link) from Atmel and download the software package you need. I recommend downloading the package that includes VSS and .NET 4.0. The software is completely free but you do have to fill out a registration form. The installer is pretty big (the one including VSS and .NET is over 600 MB).
STK 200: AVR Studio 5

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Interesting Infrastructure: Mouse shaped wetland

Check out this satellite imagery from Petaluma, California, a city of about 60,000 people in the northern bay area. The city completed construction of a new wastewater treatment plant, the Ellis Creek Water Recycling Facility, in 2009 and they included some polishing ponds which had a very interesting shape. Environmental artist Patricia Johnson worked with the city and their consultants to make this wetland park a unique piece of artwork. The shape is a reference to the harvest field mouse, an indigenous species in the area near the Petaluma River. You can see the actual treatment facility towards the top right of the image.
Mouse shaped wetland: Raw image
Mouse shaped wetland: Mouse outlined

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

STK 200: Basic Layout Guide

The Kanda STK 200 has a lot of really cool features. But when I first got the board, I didn't even know where to begin. This post goes over the board's basic layout and the main features that it includes.

I/O: Really, the core function of a microcontroller is Input/Output. In fact, out of the ATmega32's 40 pins, 32 pins are set aside for I/O. They are organized into four 8-pin ports named PORTA, PORTB, PORTC, and PORTD. The STK 200 makes it really easy to access these ports by giving them each headers. The board even labels the headers using the standard naming convention established by the AVR family (PORTA, etc.). Each header includes it's own VCC and GND, which devices almost always require. LEDs and switches are probably the most common form of I/O; conveniently, the STK 200 has 8 LEDs and 8 switches built into the board. You can dedicate ports to the LEDs, the switches or both using a 10-pin ribbon cable provided with the board and pictured below. PORTB is lined up with the LED input header and PORTD is lined up with the switches output header for an easy connection.
STK 200: I/O