Computing stuff tied to the physical world

Flashback – Discovering the Arduino

In AVR, Hardware on Sep 28, 2013 at 00:01

It’s now just about 5 years ago when I started with JeeLabs, so I thought it might be a good idea to bring back some notes from the past. Get ready for a couple of flashback posts…

One of the first posts on this weblog was about the Arduino, or rather Atmel’s AVR ATmega chip I had just discovered (it was the ATmega168 back then):


It was the Arduino IDE which made it trivial to play with this chip, an open source multi-platform software package combining an editor, the avr-gcc compiler, and the avrdude uploader. And despite the use of very Arduino-ish names such as “sketches” (firmware) and “shields” (add-on hardware), it was all nearly-standard C and C++, with a couple of convenient libraries to easily access I/O pins, the ADC, the serial port, timers, and more.

Five years ago, a fascinating brand new world opened up for me. I knew all about C and C++ as well as digital I/O and boot loaders, but a lot of really interesting and powerful new technologies were new to me: I2C, SPI, embedded timer hardware, and above all: sleep mode. These chips were not only able to run at an amazing 16 MHz clock rate, they could actually go to sleep and use a watchdog timer to wake up again later, saving 3 orders of magnitude on energy consumption.

A small universe, controlled by standard software and able to interface to the real world.

Physical Computing. Low cost. Accessible to anyone.


  1. Well let’s hope there are many more years to come. I really enjoy reading your posts in the morning and often use then as a quick reference.

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