Categorized | aery32, atmel, avr32, review, tutorial, UC3A1

Initial review: Aery32 Atmel AVR32 UC3A1 Development Board

Introduction

Recently (!) one of my readers sent me the subject of our review – the Aery32 development board from Finland. Based around the Atmel AVR32 UC3A1 128KB microcontroller – it is a painless way to get into AVR32 programming and development. Furthermore the hardware and software are completely open-source, so you can make your own and modify to your heart’s content. The specifications of the Atmel AVR32 UC3A1 show that it is an incredibly powerful microcontroller and they can be found in detail from Atmel here – plus you can download the data sheet from here.

[Update 13/06/2013 – now available in Australia from Little Bird Electronics]

Regular readers will know that I don’t work with this platform, so this review is written from the point of an absolute beginner. My apologies if some of the terminology used isn’t the norm. Moving forward, here is our Aery32 board:

… and the rear:

One could say that there is everything you need – and nothing you do not. Looking at the front of the board, apart from the MCU there is an LED for use, the mini-USB for programming and a switch for changing modes between the bootloader and program. On the rear are the pin references, and on the right-hand side solder pads (on both sides) for the JTAG debugger.  The following video is a short walkthrough:

Setup

The first thing to do is get the required software installed on the machine. Instructions for Windows, MacOS and Linux are provided. Here we have Windows 7 and the installation was simple – the Atmel software installed painlessly enough. You will also need the Aery32 software framework, which contains source files and compiling instructions for your projects. This is updated over time by the Aery32 project, so keep an eye on the github page.

After downloading the framework, keep an unaltered copy in a folder. Then you copy this and rename it for each new project. That is – for each project you start with a fresh framework folder and insert the code into the main.cpp file within the folder. Consider the following:

You can see how I have kept the framework in a folder to keep as a source, then made copies and renamed them for individual projects. Then inside each folder you have the various files – and the main.cpp which contains your project code.

Using the Aery32

From the beginning I was a little worried due to my lack of time and inexperience with AVR32 programming. However after determing how the software framework and code files are used as described earlier – the process of programming the board was easy. You then just need to learn how to program – a topic for another day… In the meanwhile, blinking the LED as a test was simple enough. After making a separate folder (see the image above) one simply edits the main.cpp file and adds the required code. For example – to blink the onboard LED:

Next, make sure the switch on the Aery32 is moved towards the reset button – this puts the board into bootloader mode. Plug in the USB cable, wait for recognition – then from the command prompt, navigate to the folder which contains the code and enter make program start. If all goes well you will see the following:

makeprogramstart

And if it doesn’t, the various errors are described as necessary. As you can see all the compilation and uploading is scripted for you making the whole process very simple. Then move the switch away from the reset button – which puts the board in run mode, then press reset. For anything further you’re going to need some external wiring – so for further experimenting purposes the first thing I did was solder in some standard 0.1″ dual inline header pins to allow easy access to a variety of I/O pins and GND. Although wanting to do more I’m pretty time-constrained at the moment so came up with not one but four blinking LEDs. Here’s the code:

and for the non-believers – the board in action:

Aery32-specific information and help is easy to find. For an open-source project, the documentation is extensive and includes many examples. Have a look around the documentation site to see what I mean. There is also a developer area which contains many articles about using the Aery32 and various examples within.

Conclusion

From my (beginner’s) perspective this board was very easy to setup and get working. Not having to worry about downloading hundreds of megabytes of IDE was great and allows programming from lightweight machines. And there is no doubt about the power or I/O features of the AVR32 UC3A1. Now I’ll get myself a good AVR32 book. So if you’re looking for a powerful and well-supported AVR32 development board, the Aery32 is a good start. You can order the board directly from the website at http://www.aery32.com/.

In the meanwhile have fun and keep checking into tronixstuff.com. Why not follow things on twitterGoogle+, subscribe  for email updates or RSS using the links on the right-hand column? And join our friendly Google Group – dedicated to the projects and related items on this website. Sign up – it’s free, helpful to each other –  and we can all learn something.

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John Boxall

Founder, owner and managing editor of tronixstuff.com.

8 Responses to “Initial review: Aery32 Atmel AVR32 UC3A1 Development Board”

  1. Lubomir says:

    Hi,

    I really enjoy reading your articles – they’re interesting and very well written – Big thanks for all of your hard work.

    One thing about the item in question – why would I choose it over the arduino, given that I’m far more familiar with Arduino coding and the Arduino sketch upload process is much simpler… What does the aery32 offer that surpasses the Arduino’s capabilities?

    Thanks for your time!

    Take care!

    • John Boxall says:

      Consider the specification of the microcontroller on each board. Links are in the article. Speed, more I/O, digital to analogue converters, etc. Nevertheless the task you have to complete will determine the hardware required.

  2. Michael Bataragoa says:

    Arduino team finally release their 32Bit platform based on ARM Cortex M3, just can’t wait for your review ;-)

  3. Hi, I’m one of the devs of Aery32. John, thank you for the nice review.

    Recently we have put quite a bit efforts into tooling. For example, how to seamlessly create new projects and upload the program to the board. This is now very convenient, at least for Sublime Text 2 users, as yesterday we released a plug-in for that editor. The plug-in also sets up the code autocomplete for you, so you don’t have to remember the framework functions any more. To have a better understanding how the plug-in works, take a look at the video tutorial from youtube, http://youtu.be/or9YF01bpfg.

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