How to develope for the ATtiny85 without becoming insane


Lembke writes:

I like the ATtiny85. It is small, comes in a solder friendly DIP 8 case, has 8k Flash + 512 Bytes Ram, 5 to 6 IO pins at 8 MHz with no external parts.
But developement is a pain: no serial (ok, it is possible but needs ports) and debugWire is even more pain.
So how to approach this problem? Throw money at it. Use MicroView.
MicroView is a chip-sized Arduino compatible module with an on-board 64×48 pixel OLED display. It has to be programmed with a special USB adapter. With its small size it is optimal for using in small environments. And it has a breadboard friendly DIP form factor.
It is expensive. $40 per item. And a one time fee of $15 for the programmer. So nothing for eternal to build into each and every mini project.
Replace it by a ATtiny85 after debugging the code.
Yeah, it has a different footprint. A adapter is needed.
And here we go!
That is what this page is about: the MicroView to ATtiny85 adapter. It is a very simple small PCB with no parts on it beside some headers.

Project info at page.

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  1. Wow, hobbyists these days are so rich…
    I’ve done many PIC12F projects, I don’t see why developing for an 8-pin MCU is so hard. Once you can (a) blink an LED, and (b) have a basic working C template, and (c) test a few peripherals on one of the MCU on a breakout board so that you have some generic peripheral code snippets that work, then: any project is just a few quick cut-and-paste jobs and some minor coding work.
    Does the Arduino crowd generally need so much equipment just for some 8-pin MCU parts? I’m curious…

    1. Yeah, you are right. He could send the entire debug Messages with a simple LED, morse code isn’t too difficult.

      1. Ha ha… :-) Okay, an oscilloscope for more complex waveforms. Or sometimes the built-in simulator in the case of Microchip PICs.
        But well, if a project uses an MCU that has 6 pins or less of I/O, then shirley such projects cannot be that difficult to develop for? Hmmm…

  2. KH,

    I once meet a guy who wanted to control the ignition timing of his 2 stroke piston engine by a Attiny85. I could imagine it will be a real pain to get data out of the ’85 in a motor shop environment. And debug the situation and see what is happening right now. And after that move to the final solution without building something new.

    So the idea to do it with something like that adapter doesn’t sound too bad to me.

    1. Off hand, in such a situation, I think I would plug in a tricked-up PIC16F breakout board for development, I have display and serial modules for that. Within the same generation, PIC peripherals are the same or quite similar, plus I already have peripheral code snippets for each part tested by my own hand — a convenient stepping stone that avoids the problem of dev from scratch. Thus, an old dinosaur like me would rummage through his pile of PICs and choose ones that are similar enough — for dev and then for the final box thingy. I imagine Arduinos are easier to code and more compatible than that…

  3. I’d go the other way and make an adapter that fits the microview into the 8 pin DIP socket for your ATTiny85 if that is the final chip you’ll be using. Your PCB will be smaller and you don’t need the adapter + pins in the final device so it’ll be quicker + easier + cheaper.

  4. PWM is the most awesome debugging tool one can use. Equipped with a piezzo it replaces UART and OLEDs in most cases, thus introducing virtually no overhead within the code, RAM or MCU time.
    For more complex situations the code has to be tested on atmega328 of course.

  5. I was frustrated with Attiny as well for a project but ended not using it. But because of my test with it I ended up making this: Makes your life a lot easier. Allows programming and serial from the Attiny. And tuning the oscillator for serial, otherwise doesn’t work so well.

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