Do it Yourself


So you wanna learn how to work with AVRs?

AVR Development Kit

Today, with simple boards like Arduino, it's easier than ever to dive into the world of electronics. But what if you'd like to delve a little deeper into the world of microcontrollers? What if you'd like to strip down to the bare naked electronic essentials and get hands on with the chip that makes the maker movement possible?

Nope, we're not going to bore you to death with long, complex datasheets... instead, we're going to point you to this awesome instructable by Nathan, which explains AVR in just a few easy steps.

This instructable will take you from the basics of bitwise manipulation to making good use of standard AVR peripherals such as timers, interrupts & serial communications. It will also cover common extras such as Infrared remote controls, radio communications and more.

So jump in, skip what you know and brush up on what you need!

Find the Instructable here:

Or download it directly in PDF format here:

Another great resource for those of you just starting out on your AVR/Microprocessing journey comes to us from Instructables User AskJerry.


Jerry takes a bare breadboard and builds each connection and component until everything is in place to program a microcontroller to ACTUALLY do something.

The instructable uses an older Atmel chip, the Tiny-26 to get you started. As Jerry notes, the Tiny-26 is a smaller microprocessor, very inexpensive, and easy to understand. Once you get a hang of the basics using the Tiny, you may want to try scaling up to more powerful chips from the ATMega family, which have more pins and more memory.

See AskJerry’s guide to getting started with Atmel AVR and BASCOM here:

Or download the entire PDF from here:

Introduction to Arduino

Arduino Microcontrollers

Some people think of the entire Arduino board as a microcontroller, but it’s actually not. The Arduino board actually is a specially designed circuit board for programming and prototyping with Atmel microcontrollers. The nice thing about it is it’s relatively cheap, plugs straight into a computer's USB port, and it is dead-simple to setup and use, making it perfect for beginners.

Check out the following ‘How To’ guide by Instructables techRandy Sarafan, and learn the basics of microcontroller programming in no time!

Click here for the Instructable itself:

Ready to graduate from Arduino to Raw AVR?

ATtiny Arduino

Markus Konrad has you covered, with his step-by-step guide to moving from Arduino to ATtiny and writing your code in pure AVR-C. Or, as he aptly named it, “ Honey, I Shrunk the Arduino .”

As Markus notes, while Arduino is most certainly a fantastic hardware and software platform, it can get to feeling a bit bloated with features you may or may not need. Sometimes your project could be just as great using a smaller, cheaper chip.

This instructable takes you through the process of how to write your first programs with AVR-C, transmit them to the microcontroller using a programmer and how to carefully debug your code by using the Arduino as serial-forwarder for the ATtiny.

You can check out the instructable here:

Make some sweet (electronic) music

Nope, not talking about Guitar Hero here, folks, I’m talking the real deal… powered by your favorite Atmel microcontrollers.


Make some noise for Instructables tech editor Randy Sarafan again, for these two awesome projects based on Arduino.

The first is an Arduino controlled robotic drum. Why build one? Well, in Randy’s own words, “because it is plain super-awesome.” The drum keeps beat like clockwork, can slow down or speed up any drum beat with precision and can even play things a real human drummer could never do.

It’s also sure to be a hit at the frat/sorority house!

Check out the guide here:

Arduino Guitar Pedal

Also hitting a high note, is Randy’s tutorial for how to make an Arduino guitar pedal.

The pedal is a mod on a digital multi-effect Lo-Fi Arduino Guitar Pedal originally posted by another Instructable user, Kyle McDonald. The most noticeable changes are the built-in preamp and the active mixer stage which lets you combine the clean signal with the effects signal. Randy also added a sturdier case, foot switch, and rotary switch to have six discreet steps between the different effects.

Make it in just 23 simple steps by following this guide:

Or download the PDF here:

Call me maybe?

Arduino Cellular Shield

University is all about making new friends and being sociable, so it might be a good idea if one of your lab projects could help you out with that! This next tutorial, for an Arduino Cellular Shield, allows you to make cellular telephone calls, and send text messages the nerdy way! The brain of the shield is the SM5100B which is a robust cellular module capable of performing many of the tasks of most standard cell phones. Couple that with an Arduino and an Antenna and you’re all set…

Here’s the guide:

And here’s the PDF:

Making the holidays electric

LED Christmas Card Ornament

Holiday cards that blink and beep have always fascinated us. And we especially love this hackable DIY version made with an ATtiny13A and a few LEDs - push the button to play a short light show in the tree. Why not send these to your professors, friends and family this year? It's a handmade, hackable gift, that’s ton of fun to build!

Download the Instructable here:

LED Gingerbread House

Gingerbread houses are the epitome of holiday season-ness. Just add in a few LED lights and an Arduino, you have Atmel holiday heaven! This instructable will show you how to wire up a ginger bread house with around 40 LEDs while only using a few pins of a micro controller to control them all.

Download the Instructable here:

Interactive Arduino Christmas Tree

Looking to get back to basics? This simple interactive Christmas tree is both educational and festive! You can even choose the color of the star!

Download the Instructable here: