AVR Introduction


The AVR family of chips are a set of microprocessors manufactured by Atmel. They are probably most commonly known by their iplementation on Arduino boards.

Programming methods

There are several ways to program the AVR chips.

Using the Arduino

This is easily done and the most simple way to program your AVR. The chip is inserted on to an Arduino board which is connected to your computer via a usb cable. Using free downloadable Arduino software the chip can have your firmware uploaded easily using the Arduino’s built in FTDI interface. The one downside to this is that a section of the AVR must have a bootloader hosted on it. This takes up space on the chip, but is usually not a problem.

Using an external programmer

There are several external programmer options available. An example is the USBTiny programmer which can be picked up extremely cheaply from the likes of Ebay. This will allow you to program your AVR without the need of an arduino. i.e. You can program the chip directly using minimal components, for example on a breadboard or embedded in a circuit, as long as the programming pins are exposed. This method does not require a bootloader, therefore you have access to the full range of the AVR’s memory.

Using Atmel ICE

This is Atmels grand version of an external programmer. It allows you to do everything you should ever need to do with the AVR. Not only does it allow you to program the chip, but it allows you to set fusebits and also perform onchip debugging. It also fully integrates with Atmel Studio which is free software from Atmel.