AVR Workshop

AVR Workshop: A Hands-On Introduction with 60 Projects by John Boxall

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A microcontroller (or MCU for short) is a small, complete computer that fits on a single integrated circuit. Just like your desktop computer, a microcontroller contains a processor, memory, devices to receive input from various sources, and outputs that can be used to control or communicate with external devices.


Thanks to the success of development platforms like Arduino and PICAXE, microcontrollers are being used increasingly often in the electronics field and among hobbyists and hackers. Such platforms simplify projects for beginners, but they can be costly; they also put a layer of abstraction between the user and the microcontroller, which decreases the microcontroller’s performance and often prevents the user from accessing its full set of features. More experienced users may want to control the microcontroller directly or use less expensive parts in their projects. Or, if you’re a beginner, you may want to start your microcontroller journey without any artificially imposed overheads.


That’s where this book comes in. Whether you’re an absolute beginner or a longtime electronics enthusiast, AVR Workshop shows you how to take advantage of two chips from the inexpensive range of Microchip AVR 8-bit microcontrollers made famous in the Arduino and compatible boards. Once you master these chips, you’ll be able to maximize their performance to create powerful projects with cheaper hardware. Along the way you’ll learn about electronics, C programming, and much more.


I’ll walk you through over 55 projects of increasing difficulty based around the ATtiny85 and ATmega328P-PU microcontrollers from Microchip, and I’ll explain and demonstrate everything you need to know for each project. You’ll start off blinking a small light, then move on to keeping time, capturing and analyzing real-world data such as temperatures, and even controlling small motorized devices. This book doesn’t cover AVR for IoT, as that’s a more advanced topic, but after completing the projects here, you’ll be able to harness a wide variety of devices, sensors, motors, displays, and more with your AVR microcontroller to bring your dreams and ideas to life.


I’ve written this book for a wide variety of people. You might be a student wanting to get a head start with microcontrollers, an electronics hobbyist with no prior experience in digital or microcontroller circuitry, an employee who wants to increase their knowledge base for work, or just someone who enjoys making things. This book is for anyone interested in learning more about AVR technology and harnessing it to create their own projects.


My goal is that you’ll leave this book with lasting knowledge and the confidence to keep learning and making. Chapter 1 will get you started by introducing a few cool real-world projects that use AVR microcontrollers, then showing you how to set up your own workstation.


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