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Atmel AVR

Atmel® AVR® microcontrollers (MCUs) are very easy to use. In fact, you can begin designing projects in just three easy steps. Here is a quick guide to get you started with AVR devices.


Step 1: Download Atmel Studio 7

All Atmel AVR microcontrollers require some software to be useful. To create and debug this software, you can use an integrated development environment (IDE), such as Atmel Studio. This IDE contains everything you need to create, compile and debug code, and it will let you download your code straight onto the on-chip Flash of the AVR MCU - without any other software components.

Atmel Studio 7 is available free of charge.


Atmel Studio 7 can be used with all Atmel AVR and Atmel® | SMART ARM®-based MCUs.


Commercially supported IDEs are also available from our tool partners, including IAR Systems and ImageCraft.


Step 2: Look at Some Examples

Creating a software program from scratch can be hard, so we provide hundreds of example projects right here on the site. These are called application notes, and they cover various aspects of programming and using AVR microcontrollers. Just visit any device page and click on the "Documents" tab where you can browse all relevant application notes for that particular device. A great place to start is the 8-bit ATmega328PB.

Atmel START is an innovative online tool for intuitive, graphical configuration and deployment of embedded software. It lets you select and configure software components, drivers and middleware, as well as deploy complete example projects tailored to the needs of your application. START is completely platform independent, and is able to generate project files for Atmel Studio, as well as a number of 3rd party IDEs. The configuration engine lets you review dependencies between software components and available hardware resources in the selected MCU, and automatically suggest solutions to any conflicts that in your setup.

Atmel START is available on the web at Start can also be accessed from within Atmel studio directly from the file->new menu.


Step 3: Get Some Hardware Tools

In addition to Atmel Studio, you will also need some hardware tools. The two most important categories are the debugger and the development kits.

In-circuit Debugger
The most essential hardware tool for any software developer is the in-circuit debugger. It connects the microcontroller to the PC via a special debug and programming interface, thus opening a window into the internal workings of the MCU. Programming your software into the MCU takes only a few seconds, and there is no need to remove or resolder any components. Once programmed, the debugger can control the CPU to run, stop, or single step, and it will read out real-time data from all the microcontroller memories and I/O registers.

Three in-circuit debuggers are available for AVR devices, ranging from the entry-level AVR Dragon™ to the high-end AVR ONE. Which one you select is mostly a question of what kind of budget you have. They all support basic programming and debugging, but the more expensive versions offer faster programming and additional debug modes.


In-System Debugger for Atmel 8-bit and 32-bit AVR Microcontrollers with OCD


STK600 Starter Kit
In addition to the debugger, many customers choose to start their development work on a development board. Atmel offers a wide selection of development boards, ranging from small evaluation kits to complete turnkey reference designs for selected devices. The most popular development board for beginners is the general-purpose Atmel STK600 starter kit.


Starter Kit for Atmel 8-bit and 32-bit AVR Microcontrollers


Evaluation Kits and Reference Designs
For engineers who do not need the flexibility of the STK600 starter kit, any one of the evaluation kits and reference designs offer a good alternative. These are device specific, and come with the AVR microcontroller surrounded by selected components.
A great starting point for beginners who are new to AVR are the AVR Xplained PRO evaluation kits. These are available for most AVR product families. These even have an on-board programmer and debugger and therefore contains everything required to get started. A good choice could thus be the ATmega328PB Xplained Mini.


The Atmel ATmega328PB Xplained Mini evalutation kit is a hardware platform for evaluating the Atmel ATmega328PB microcontroller.


Additional Resources

Knowledge Base with FAQ and Online Tools Help
A comprehensive FAQ database gives answers to many of the questions you may have. The FAQ is organized into product groups and sub-categories for easy browsing.
Online versions of many tools user guides are available for easy browsing.

Application notes and other documentation
Get the most out of your microcontroller with the free application notes and datasheets containing detailed and application specific information. Here you can get Quick-Start guides, migration notes, design considerations, peripheral drivers, and other useful code examples.

Another great resource are videos that takes you through the AVR features and the practical aspects of using the development tools:

Discussion Forums
There is no need to re-invent the wheel! Users world-wide are constantly discussing new topics and inventions using Atmel microcontrollers. Be a part of the communities, participate in discussions, and get valuable feedback on any issue you may have.

Training and Events
Learn even more! By participating in trainings, seminars, tradeshows, workshops, and conferences worldwide you will learn about the latest news and hottest topics. Atmel visits places all over the world to show you new products and features.

Third Party Support
Atmel AVR products have an extensive Third Party Support from leading companies worldwide. They offer hardware and software development tools and AVR consultancy services. They can help designers efficiently develop their application in a timely manner and provide expertise in projects if needed.

You will find more information and contact details for these companies in this section.