Intro to Me and My Project (ROV)

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Hello
I'm Andre and I'm a senior Computer Engineer at UCSC.
For my senior project, I have got a group together to build an underwater ROV.

Right now, we all have the task of shopping around for a micro controller. I'm liking the AVR Mega32. We have to keep cost low, so I have a few questions in terms of getting started.

Whats a good dev kit to get? I see them ranging from $40 - $150+. I really would like to buy the cheap one but this is my first time dabbing with microcontrollers outside of school. Before this, we wire wrapped our own boards with expanded memory (rom and ram etc..) and never programmed anything that wasn't an HC11 or HC12.
Any advice would greatly be appreciated.

Right now, we are envisioning using atleast 8 servos, and around 4-5 sensors....

Thanks!
Andre

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Quote:
I'm liking the AVR Mega32.
Start by using the newer Mega324, pin compatible with the M32 but it has a bigger brother the Mega644 if you run out of room.

For the M324 you could get the $50 Dragon which will work as a programmer and debugger for chips up to 32K of flash.

You can mount the chip on the small prototyping area of the Dragon or pop it on a bit of veroboard.

Welcome away from the EVIL :evil: Freescale empire.

John Samperi

Ampertronics Pty. Ltd.

www.ampertronics.com.au

* Electronic Design * Custom Products * Contract Assembly

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I think you'll find that the Mega324 is the same price ( or cheaper ), and that it is more capable, in the same package; it usually pays to use the newer versions unless you have a darn good reason not to.

As for development environments, I love my STK500, though a dragon will do all the programming and debugging, if you keep the uC 32k or less. Either way I'd buy a well supported programmer; it just isn't worth fighting to get a uC programmed when you have a project due.

The sensors are likely to have more of an impact on your choice of uC than the servos, servos are fairly slow actually.

As with most things in engineering, the answer is an unabashed, "It depends."

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First, I would recommend one of the modern versions of the mega32, such as the mega324. It is pin compatible with the mega32, and not only does it have more features, it is actually cheaper (from digikey it is ~$6 compared to ~$8 for the mega32). It also gives you an easy upgrade to the mega644 (same chip with twice the memory).

As for a dev kit, it depends on what you are looking for:

The STK500 has ISP, parallel programming support, along with easy access to all port pins, LEDs and switches, and RS232 support with level shifters. What it lacks is JTAG debugging.

The Dragon is a programmer (again with ISP and parallel), but it also has JTAG programming, and JTAG debugging for parts with 32k of flash and under. But it lacks the dev area of the STK500. You can always set up your own dev board or use a breadboard though.

The AVRISP mk2 is cheaper, but only has ISP programming.

The JTAGICE mk2 is a programmer/debugger with ISP programming, JTAG programming, and JTAG debugging for all AVRs. But it is quite expensive (~300).

Just out (and for the moment not readily available) is the STK600. It is the big brother of the STK500 with similar features, but handles programming of AVRs, AVR32s, and the new Xmegas. The price is ~200, but you will also need to buy socket boards to fit the AVR you want to use (probably another $50-$100).

Regards,
Steve A.

The Board helps those that help themselves.

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Checkout the USBtiny programmer, its only $22. You can use a breadboard to prototype and then etch or wirewrap a board.

http://www.adafruit.com/index.ph...

Thats the main thing that got me into the AVR, its so low cost to start out with.

I'm currently working on a motor controller for a ROV with some High school students competing in the MATE competition.

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Quote:
Checkout the USBtiny programmer, its only $22.
And look at all the trouble it gets you into :lol:

A proper AVRISP is about $30?? And you can use it directly from Studio...

John Samperi

Ampertronics Pty. Ltd.

www.ampertronics.com.au

* Electronic Design * Custom Products * Contract Assembly

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I would also recommend the m324 and the Dragon, but with one warning -- the Dragon is notoriously easy to fry. Do a quick search in this forum for way to prevent your Dragon from being fried (and for instructions on how to resurrect a fried Dragon).

Welcome to the world of AVR and best of luck with your project! Be sure to let us know how it works out - we all love to hear about successful projects!

Stu

Engineering seems to boil down to: Cheap. Fast. Good. Choose two. Sometimes choose only one.

Newbie? Be sure to read the thread Newbie? Start here!

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Be aware that some of the programmer options listed above are programmer *only* and some provide debugging as well. Debugging code without a source level debugger, and without fprintf(), but only a couple of LED's you can flash gets old pretty fast. It can be done, sure. But there are times when it really does suck hard. OTOH if you are planning to include something like an LCD display that you can print to, then you might decide an ISP programmer without debugging is sufficient.

The Dragon is cheap, a little delicate, and limited to debugging under 32K of program flash. That along with the gcc tool chain is the budget choice, and will get you pretty far. It's the cheapest way to get something that works with avarice and gdb. If you are afraid the 32K debugging limit will get in your way and you will have something like an LCD to print debug info onto, then maybe an AVRISP MK II is good choice.

I agree with above posters that the Mega324/644 is a chip you should check out.

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LordGarak...We'll se you at MATE! We are the UCSC Nautilus ROV team, and we are in the explorer class.

Thanks for all the responses. I will look into your leads. Unfortunately, I'm really frustrated as a Senior Computer Engineer major now. I'm just about to graduate, and I was not taught about the world of micro controllers. I learned everything on the HC11/12's, some programming, memory mapping, learning to read datasheets, architecture, wirewrapping/soldering...but now that I'm exposing myself to the real world...I have no idea of what some of you guys are talking about!

What the heck is JTAG? Let alone, JTAG Programming and debugging.

What exactly is ISP? I looked it up, and I came to the conclusion that it is the cable that runs to the dev kit from the PC in order to program it....so how can something only have ISP or no ISP? Huh? And how can I use the GNU AVR compiler with a dev kit? (free is good)

Sorry, I feel like I've been jipped here...all those years of undergraduate engineering, and I'm like a newby.

I shouldnt admit to these things....I should just look it all up (with all that extra time I have).

Either way, I will be going the AVR route (whether for this project or not). AVR from what I'm reading, is the shiznit. With a community like this, it makes it even better, and it seems I will be meeting some of you soon!
I'll keep you guys updated on our status, with pictures too :)

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Quote:
What the heck is JTAG? Let alone, JTAG Programming and debugging.

JTAG == "Joint Test Access Group". It's an IEEE committee (I think?) that wrote a spec for something called a TAP == "Testability Access Port". You can string all your parts together on a board in a ginormous shift register for testing purposes. Anyway, vendors can add proprietary stuff on top of the TAP state machine to implement their own functions, such as flash programming, and a debug interface as Atmel has done.

Quote:
What exactly is ISP?

ISP == In-circuit Serial Programming -- it's another way to load up the flash on an Atmel processor. No debug interface.

Quote:
Sorry, I feel like I've been jipped here...all those years of undergraduate engineering, and I'm like a newby.

If you are realizing that already before hitting the job interview trail, you are miles ahead of many of the people I have sat across the interview desk from :)

BTW -- since you are just over the hill, you should try to make it to the Homebrew Robotics Club. http://www.hbrobotics.org/ You'll meet a lot of good folks a learn a lot.

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Someone told me a long, long time ago that university was more about learning how to learn.

Absolutely. When interviewing for new hires, I am always more interested seeing if the person can think and solve problems that if they have a perfect G.P.A. The whole point of engineering is to do something that nobody else has done before.

Actually, the thing I respect the most is the ability to ask the right question. I spent many years as a CPU designer -- at one mainframe shop there was a guy I'll call G.W. G.W. would walk into a meeting 10 minutes late; a meeting where the typical participant had an M.S.E.E and several years of experience. He would listen quietly to us chasing our tails for 5 minutes. Then G.W. would ask the one question that sliced the problem open like a coconut. After a minute of stunned silence we would set to work on finding the answer to that question, and G.W. would quietly get up and wander down the hall to another meeting and do the same thing to/for them. :)

People that can dig for the answers get hired. People who can ask the questions make companies successful.

Another manager, senior to me by several years, used to love to hire engineers that grew up on farms whenever possible, especially dairy farms. His reasoning: "A farm kid knows that every job comes with a certain amount of s***. He just digs in a moves it out of the way instead of complaining."

Sorry to wonder so far off topic.

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The "Learning how to think" is something I'll have to agree with. I guess I have the rest of my life to actually learn real world stuff.

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Batchelor degree is an overview.... need to get a masters to specialize in a field... and dont feel bad because you didnt learn the state of the art.... you didnt sign up for tech school... the hot cpu changes every year or so. Maxwell's equations and Ohm's law will still work then.

Imagecraft compiler user

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The annoying thing is that most of the time, all you actually use in the real world is

- V=IR
- P=IV
- 0.6v across Vbe
- capacitors block DC

:mrgreen:

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Zdaddy wrote:
Sorry, I feel like I've been jipped here...all those years of undergraduate engineering, and I'm like a newby.
I've been told that when a martial arts student attains Black Belt, s/he is ready to begin his true lessons in the martial arts.

When an engineering student finally graduates, be it with a Bachelor or Master (or, for that matter, Doctorate), s/he is trained in the language and some of the art of the profession. S/he is ready for his/her true lessons.

Don't worry that others on this forum know more than you. Some of the folks on this forum have decades of experience. I am almost 30 years out of school, and had 9 years of experience with computers before that. We all had to learn it the same as you.

The world of microprocessors, microcontrollers, computers, digital and analog circuits, is incredibly vast. No one knows it all, and no one expects you to know it all. As another poster said, what we expect is that you can ask the right questions and that you are prepared to dig through the s*** to get the answers.

Cheer up! Enjoy your profession! Be passionate about what you are doing! Be happy when you are frustrated because that's when you are forced to look at the problem in a new way. Be confident that, even if you don't know how you are going to do that next project, you by God will find out! Be amazed that someone will actually pay you to do this!

"Trust the Force, Luke!"

Stu

Engineering seems to boil down to: Cheap. Fast. Good. Choose two. Sometimes choose only one.

Newbie? Be sure to read the thread Newbie? Start here!

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Hey, do you guys know where we can get the datasheet for the 324? We are only finding the datasheet for the 644. I'm guessing they are only minor differences? It would be nice though to have the DS for the 324 if anyone has it though....

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@Zdaddy

At the Atmel website, the overview for the AVR's is here:
http://www.atmel.com/products/AVR/

Then go to the Devices section from the menu on the left, scroll down and chose the device you want. It will have a datasheet and other info pertaining to it.

The AVR Mega 324 is actually the 324P - the P is for Pico power - datasheet is here:
http://www.atmel.com/dyn/resourc...

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On behalf of the Nautilus ROV team, we thank you everything...I love this site!

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Ok so our team is ready for buying the devboard and microcontroller. We set aside a budget of $220 for 2 dev boards and 2 or more microcontrollers. What are the best places to purchase these items? I can find them myself, but if you guys have suggestions for your favorite place, I'm all ears.

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Digikey has lots of stuff and reasonably priced if not the cheapest for small quantities.

If you had put your location as part of your profile someone could be a bit more specific.
ie in Australia, Soanar Plus have the most reasonable prices.

John Samperi

Ampertronics Pty. Ltd.

www.ampertronics.com.au

* Electronic Design * Custom Products * Contract Assembly

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Good point about my profile. I updated it.

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Now for a critique of the microcontroller selection process... How can you 'like the look of' the mega32 unless you have done a lot of work to determine how much sw you have and how fast it runs? You are supposed to design top down.... not do double the work trying to cram a big program into a processor that has half as much program space as needed, or do a lot of work looking for algorithmic tricks to speed up a program that runs on a cpu speced too slow for the job. You need to balance price, number and type of IOs, ram size, flash size, cpu speed, compiler/debugger cost and abilities, your programming team familiarity with cpu and tools, etc. I hate to say it, but if 3 guys on your team are experts in 8051s and Keil compiler, maybe forcing them to jump over to AVRs and GCC or CV or Imagecraft compiler and be up to speed in days or weeks might be too much of a risk for meeting a deadline.

Imagecraft compiler user

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bobgardner wrote:
Now for a critique of the microcontroller selection process... How can you 'like the look of' the mega32 unless you have done a lot of work to determine how much sw you have and how fast it runs? You are supposed to design top down.... not do double the work trying to cram a big program into a processor that has half as much program space as needed, or do a lot of work looking for algorithmic tricks to speed up a program that runs on a cpu speced too slow for the job. You need to balance price, number and type of IOs, ram size, flash size, cpu speed, compiler/debugger cost and abilities, your programming team familiarity with cpu and tools, etc. I hate to say it, but if 3 guys on your team are experts in 8051s and Keil compiler, maybe forcing them to jump over to AVRs and GCC or CV or Imagecraft compiler and be up to speed in days or weeks might be too much of a risk for meeting a deadline.

Very good point. But here's the thing. None of us have experience outside of the ancient HC11. Read my posts above on why i feel "Jipped". 2nd, your asking me and my team to gain familiarity through experience, well I have none and it isn't realistic to gain enough before I graduate...besides, when can you say enough is enough?

Here's what I do know, no programming we are going to do is going to exceed the size of the Mega324 onboard memory. If it does, I'll expand the memory, I've done it before. But I doubt it.

The only other thing I can do is rely on what others have done. That said, I've seen many robots built using the Mega32, and other Atmega microcontrollers. So I know it is capable.

Lastly in my so called process of deciding on a microcontroller, I decided the single most important factor behind the right microcontroller is support. When it comes to the Atmega, it blows everything out of the water. At school I know many that are experts on it, and this site is huge asset.

Perhaps when I have years of experience making systems like this, I wont need such vast support...and maybe then I'll be fully aware of my systems memory needs, power needs, speed needs, processing power needs, I/O needs...sheesh the list goes on. Then I'll be able to consolidate all of those and choose the single best microcontroller. But for now, pretty much any relatively modern microcontroller will meet our need, its cost and the support that is important for our learning process.

Oh and BTW, many well versed engineers don't venture outside of their familiar territory. We visited a local research institute that develops and builds ROV's (2-4,000lbs robots), and out of all the doctorates there, they wont use anything but PIC's on all their bots. Why? I asked and its because they learned on the PIC's and stuck to it. Not because it's best suited, they admitted to that. They don't have time for changes even software changes, it is scary because they can't afford to be changing time tested methods with their projects. For them, like us, its the end result that matters here and what they have works, no buts about it! I bet you can critique them all day long on their choice of microcontroller... there will always be one best suited for a certain task, but it's not really the point here.

Another senior project team in our class chose the MSP430 because they were advised by the teacher that it used unusually low power consumption (which is something they really needed). For us it's support and price, and the Atmegas fit the bill.

-end rant-

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I'm sorry. I think I over reacted. All I really needed to say is that if this were just a microcontroller project, I'd be spending all my time reviewing datasheets. But it's not. We are undergrads that have to not only deal with actually design and implementation of electrical, computer,and mechanical components, but we still need to organize and divide ourselves (ever tried that in a group? It's hard work! Easier said than done!). Not to mention meeting our normal class workloads.

Sorry if I overeacted above, but it was frustrating to hear a critique on the day I'm supposed to be purchasing these items (and its a day before a final, whoopie!). I hope maybe you can see what we are up against?!? Its hard but its fun at the same time though :)

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No body said that it's gonna be easy. IMHO, you don't over react. And think that 324P has a simple upgrade path to 644P, and sooner or later to 1284P. This this is a way to go.

My experience dictated me two things: You never will end to learning things, and it's amazing what a uC can do with an small amount of memory, if you don't have to implement an user interface ;)

Guillem.
"Common sense is the least common of the senses" Anonymous.

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Usually, students want the 'academic' view of their project, so I was trying to act like a stuffy old professor who would want you to 'show your work' for the processor program speed and size calcs. I admit its easier to just compile it and see if it fits, and if it doesnt, get a bigger/faster AVR!

Imagecraft compiler user

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bobgardner wrote:
I admit its easier to just compile it and see if it fits, and if it doesn't, get a bigger/faster AVR!
Getting a bigger AVR than the m324 should be easy. Faster may be a little harder. At least until the XMega series comes out. :wink:

Stu

Engineering seems to boil down to: Cheap. Fast. Good. Choose two. Sometimes choose only one.

Newbie? Be sure to read the thread Newbie? Start here!

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Quote:
If you had put your location as part of your profile someone could be a bit more specific.

But he did say UCSC :) Beaches (but cold water), fog, aging hippies. Just over the hill from Sili Valley.

Zdaddy,
Don't forget to come over for the HBRC either tomorrow or next Wednesday, or both. You'll find several AVR users and get plenty of helpful advice on your project.
http://www.hbrobotics.org/

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aging hippies, haha, thats so true. I can't come to this weeks HBRC meeting but maybe next week. I'm married and my wife and I have a 1 year old (kinda young, but hey what can I say). Next week might be better for me in that respect.

I got the dev board and uC's. I was so excited when it got here. Now I'm in the process of becoming familiar with AVRStudio 4 + WinAVR.

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Oops I mean next months HBRC meeting :)
April 23rd.

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I'm trying to put a simple PWM program on the 324 with the AVR Dragon. It's more difficult than I thought.
I found this guide to the Dragon
http://ltc.cit.cornell.edu/cours...

Starting at the bottom of page 25 is the "Device Sheet: Atmega16/32" It seems this is how to setup the AVR to program the mega32. They don't mention the Mega324...can I follow these same steps for the mega324?

Also, which method should I go? There's the Jtag, ISP, PP....?

Can I use the dragon to directly connect LED's /small motors to (with caps and diodes for noise of course) so that I could test the prog?

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Have a look here

Quote:
AVR505: Migration between ATmega16/32 and ATmega164P/324P/644(P) (11 pages, revision C, updated 06/06)
This application note summarizes the differences between ATmega16/32 and ATmega164P/324P/644(P) and is a guide to assist current ATmega16/32 users in converting existing designs to the ATmega164P/324P/644(P).

http://www.atmel.com/dyn/resourc...

This is a migration doc , that helps converting code written for M16/32 into code working on the M164/324/644

But you should really have a look at Atmels App Note page:

http://www.atmel.com/dyn/product...

And the example directory under winavr , there is a pwm example ready to go (pwm'ing a led)

Pay attention to Application notes : 040 , 042 (hw design tips) , and maybe 035 (Efficient C code).

But BEWARE most C examples in Atmel Appnotes and other places are made with/for the IAR Compiler.
The C flow would be the same , but I/O references & compiler directives (Pragmas) are not.

I assume you are still using WinAVR.

Remember to look in the avr-libc document (pdf) that comes with winavr.
This one is important , it contains most of the library code you will use.

There is an avr-libc FAQ on the web , locate & print that one.
http://www.nongnu.org/avr-libc/u...

One more thing :

1: disable JTAG on the M32 (programming fuses) , or your port-C will not function as expected.
2: dont expect serial comms to work if you use the internal oscillator of the M32 (too inaccurate)
3: any variables used in an ISR , and referenced outside of that must be declared volatile
4: search for the word "atomic" in this forum

Edit: I have these experiences (jtag/oscillator) from a M32 , but assume they apply to a M324 also.

Ohh and remember a M32 fresh from factory uses the internal 1Mhz oscillator , you need to set the fuses , for it to use the xtal/osc on the stk-500

Good info here
https://www.avrfreaks.net/index.p...

/Bingo

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Ok, I feel really stupid coming for help with this...but maybe I didnt setup my AVRstudio correctly? I installed Winavr and AVRstudio, I wrote my C code as best I could after pouring through the datasheet. I can compile it fine, no errors...but now I'm trying to program it with the Dragon. First time I'm doing this, and it asks me for a hex file. Well the only hex file I have is from some random assembly program I was playing with about 2 weeks ago...where is my hex file for the C prog I wrote? Sorry if I let anyone's hopes down....but I'm being humble by admitting that I dont know what I'm doing really. What am I not doing? Or doing wrong?

I'll search some more, but frankly, I think this is such a trivial thing that no one ever talks about it.

BTW I configured the dragon for ISP for now. Maybe later I will play with JTAG, right now JTAG scares me :x

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Quote:
where is my hex file for the C prog I wrote?
It should be in the folder your project was in, then look in the "Default" folder. There should be all files generates by a SUCCESSFULL compile.

John Samperi

Ampertronics Pty. Ltd.

www.ampertronics.com.au

* Electronic Design * Custom Products * Contract Assembly

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I'm only getting a hex file when I open my project under GCC AVR simulator and compile it that way. If I open it under "AVRDragon", I compile it and I get the green light on everything, but no hex file.

Can I use the hex file that is generated by the AVR Simulator?

Lemme know if what I said makes sense at all. LOL.
I'm having fun with this, but at the same time I really want to get a simple PWM prog on my ATmega ASAP.

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Nevermind. I got a hex file now 8) I decided to take a break and get something to eat. I think it made a difference.

Oh and thanks Bingo for the links, they will come in handy soon.

heres where I'm at now:

When I hit Program, either flash or eeprom, I get

WARNING: EEPROM address 0x0000 is 0x00(should be 0x0C).. FAILED!

Leaving programming mode.. OK!

A popup labeled ISP Mode Error says that I may need to set ISP frequency to 1/4 of the device's.

At this point I'm lost, anyone have a link to a good app note or a webpage with this info? I'm clicking around in the tabs for the AVR Dragon window...clicking the Advanced tab, it shows "Signature Bytes" with a button labeled Read. Clicking it makes the field show 0x00 0x00 0x00.
Beneath it, it says "WARNING: Signature does not match selected device!

Just thought I'd let everyone know. I think this is a well documented problem so I'll be searching. But if anyone wants to help me save time your welcome to post up info

:lol:

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Quote:
I may need to set ISP frequency to 1/4 of the device's.
Have you? Set the ISP frequency for 125KHz and WRITE it. Then try to read the signature bytes.

John Samperi

Ampertronics Pty. Ltd.

www.ampertronics.com.au

* Electronic Design * Custom Products * Contract Assembly

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:shock: I didnt realize I could type it in. I thought I only had a choice of what was given in the pulldown menu, and the lowest it went was 1MHZ.

Anyways, I entered 125KHz. It says signature matches device.

The last two lines of the message box says

FLASH contents is equal to file.. OK
Leaving programming mode.. OK!

...dare I think it? Is this thing programmed? :D

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YEP!!!! :)

John Samperi

Ampertronics Pty. Ltd.

www.ampertronics.com.au

* Electronic Design * Custom Products * Contract Assembly

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Our first real prototype. Our team of 4 put in countless hours gearing up for the Regional ROV competition in Monterey which was yesterday May 10th.

This is my 16month old son standing next to the Nautilus...He wanted to go in the water :lol:


We still have a lot to do on it, its not nearly complete. But it was enough to check off, which means we are allowed to compete internationally in San Diego, 6 weeks from now.

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This is really cool. I bet any avrfreak would like to get a subroutine or two in the program at nationals. If you guys have any questions about control systems, c, avrs give us freaks a chance to help.

Imagecraft compiler user

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Quote:
This is really cool.
WATER cool... :?

John Samperi

Ampertronics Pty. Ltd.

www.ampertronics.com.au

* Electronic Design * Custom Products * Contract Assembly