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The Tinusaur

The Tinusaur is a small board with ATtiny85 microcontroller and the minimum components to run properly plus shield headers and a battery

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This project was created on 07/24/2014 and last updated a month ago.

Description
Briefly, the Tinusaur is a minimal micro-controller hardware configuration based on Atmel AVR ATtiny family of products and more specifically those with DIP-8 case such as ATtiny85.

The goal of the Tinusaur project is to have a simple, cheap and quick-start platform for everyone interested in learning and creating things.

What is so special about it - nothing, absolutely nothing.

The schematics is simple and easy to understand by everyone with basic knowledge in electronics and computers. It contains the minimum required components to run a general purpose micro-controller system.

The PCB is simple and easy to understand by everyone just by looking at it. It is possible to make one even at home or to order it online at low cost.

The components are easy to find and of course cheap.

Assembling of the board is simple and easy to do for everyone. It does not require any special tools or skills.

LICENSE: Creative Commons - Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0
Details

The latest designs are available at http://123d.circuits.io/circuits/283811-tinusaur-board-v0-2-rc3

The latest PCB is available at https://oshpark.com/shared_projects/WX5bz3KV

Pros and Cons

Is there anything special about this board?

No. Absolutely nothing.

Although, it has some advantages as well as disadvantages and they are discussed here.

Pros

Tinusaur BoardThe Tinusaur project is simple and easy to understand for everyone platform for a quick start learning and creating things.

What are the advantages of the Tinusaur project?

  • The board consists of the minimum required components for the micro-controller to work properly. There are no missing ones that could save on space and cost but may impact stability and also there are no extra components that you may not always need.
  • All the components are easy to find.
  • The PCB is easy to make. It could be made at home or ordered online very cheap.
  • The board is very easy to assemble – no very special skills or tools are required.
  • The micro-controller is put on a socket and could be easily replaced in case it was damaged which may happen often during prototyping or learning.
  • Although it comes with Attiny85 micro-controller it could work with ATtiny25, ATtiny45 and even ATtiny13.
  • The 2-row headers H1 and H2 could be used like a breadboard – very convenient during prototyping. That could serve as the only board for some simple projects.
  • The 2-row headers H1 and H2 could be used to put another board on top for the Tinusaur – that’s known as a shied board. The headers are quite solid and will therefore not require using other mount to keep the shield steady.
  • The board could be used not only for prototyping but also as part of real products. Some extra components could be put directly on the board’s headers H1 and H2. If needed an additional shield board could be put on top of the Tinusaur board. It also has 4 convenient mount holes in the corners.
  • The board includes an optional mount for button cell battery on the bottom and a jumper to turn it on and off.
  • Writing programs for the Tinusaur board could be done with variety of tools that exist for all the major desktop operating systems – Windows, Mac OS, Linux. That includes free and open source ones.
  • The board could also be programmed with the Arduino environment.
  • There are 6 holes next to the external programmer header PC1 that make it a bit easier to chop the connector off if it is no longer needed.

What are the benefits of using the Tinusaur over some other similar projects?

  • It does not include the capability to be connected and programmed directly to USB.
    • That saves some space on the board for the additional components that may be required by the USB circuit.
    • Saves some space in the program memory as well as in the RAM for the code that will be needed to connect through USB.
    • And also saves some of the 6 I/O pins that are too few anyways and that may be otherwise used for the USB connection.
  • It does not include voltage regulator. That saves some space on the board but also does not limit you to power it on either 5V or 3.3V.

Cons

There are of course things that are not perfect with the Tinusaur and we must mention them here.

What are the disadvantage of using the Tinusaur board?

  • Although the board is relatively small it could be much smaller if we used SMD components and smaller headers.
  • Not having a built-in voltage regulator may be critical for some projects that do not operate with stabilized power source in which case it will not be possible to connect them directly to the Tinusaur board.
  • At the moment the optional battery should not be turned on while the board is connected to the programmer or to an external power source – there is no circuit to prevent the current going back to the battery.
  • It requires using a separate programmer, cable and the additional PC1 header on the board. That header will not be used after the project is finalized and the micro-controller programmed. This may be considered as inconvenience and waste of space.
  • Although the board could be...
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Components
  • 1 × PCB Tinusaur PCB
  • 1 × MCU, Attiny85 Atmel AVR ATtiny85 microcontroller
  • 1 × Socket, DIP-8 DIP-8 socket for MCU
  • 1 × H1, Header Header 2×4, Female
  • 1 × H2, Header Header 2×5, Female
  • 1 × ISP, Header Header 2×5, Male, for ISP
  • 1 × RESET, Button Tactile push button, for RESET
  • 1 × Power, Header Header 1×2, Male, for external power
  • 1 × Battery, Header Header 1×2, Male, for battery power on/off
  • 1 × Battery, Jumper Jumper, 2-pin, for battery power on/off

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Project logs

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Build instructions

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Discussions

Neven Boyanov wrote a month ago null point

The LED driver at AVR_Drivers is nice but this is something you just buy and use for various LED applications. You probably can hack it and do even more things.

Are you sure? [yes] / [no]

Neven Boyanov wrote a month ago null point

There are some similarities with the BLINKM project but the idea here is to be able to assemble the Tinusaur yourself with parts that you can easily buy everywhere. So while soldering, setting up the dev environment and writing your first program - you learn.

Are you sure? [yes] / [no]

IT-Wizard wrote 2 months ago null point

It make me think at this project : http://thingm.com/products/blinkm/
But much more open to experiments !

Are you sure? [yes] / [no]

mr.jb.swe wrote 2 months ago null point

check this out
http://flashlightwiki.com/AVR_Drivers

It's a led driver...but it can be used for different purposes.......so similar ( but smaller and ..you get a pwm controlled current regulator )

Are you sure? [yes] / [no]