Shallow Thoughts : : Nov

Akkana's Musings on Open Source Computing and Technology, Science, and Nature.

Wed, 29 Nov 2017

Programming an ATtiny85, Part 2: With the Arduino Software (and a Makefile)

Having written a basic blink program in C for my ATtiny85 with a USBtinyISP (Part 1), I wanted to use it to control other types of hardware. That meant I wanted to be able to use Arduino libraries.

The Arduino IDE

I normally use Makefiles, but the Arduino IDE is much better supported so I tried that first. I followed the steps at High-Low Tech: Programming an ATtiny w/ Arduino 1.6 (or 1.0). But the short summary is:

In Tools->Programmer, choose the programmer you're using (for example, USBtinyISP).

Now you should be able to Verify and Upload a blink sketch just like you would to a regular Arduino, subject to the pin limitations of the ATTiny.

That worked for blink. But it didn't work when I started adding libraries. Since the command-line was what I really cared about, I moved on rather than worrying about libraries just yet.

ATtiny with Arduino-Makefile

For most of my Arduino development I use an excellent package called Arduino-Makefile. There's a Debian package called arduino-mk that works fine for normal Arduinos, but for ATtiny, there have been changes, so use the version from git. A minimal blink Makefile looks like this:

BOARD_TAG = uno
include /usr/share/arduino/Arduino.mk

It assumes that if you're in a directory called blink, it should compile a file called blink.ino. It will also build any additional .cpp files it finds there. make upload uploads the code to a normal Arduino.

With Attiny it gets quite a bit more complicated. The key is that you have to specify an alternate core:

ALTERNATE_CORE = ATTinyCore

But there are lots of different ATtiny cores, they're all different, and they each need a different set of specifiers like BOARD_TAG in the Makefile. Arduino-Makefile comes with an example, but it isn't very useful since it doesn't say where to get the cores that correspond with the various samples. I ended up filing a documentation bug and exchanging some back-and-forth with the maintainer of the package, Simon John, and here's what I learned.

First: as I mentioned earlier, you should use the latest git version of Arduino-Makefile. The version in Debian is a little older and some things have changed; while the older version can be made to work with ATtiny, the recipes will be different from the ones here.

Second, the recipes for each core will be different depending on which version of the Arduino software you're using. Simon says he sticks to version 1.0.5 when he uses ATtinys, because newer versions don't work as well. That may be smart (certainly he has a lot more experience than I do), but I'm always hesitant to rely on software that old, so I wanted to get things working with the latest Arduino, 1.8.5, if i could, so that's what the recipes here will reflect.

Third, as mentioned in Part 1, clock rate should be 1MHz, not 8MHz as you'll see in a lot of web examples, so: F_CPU = 1000000L

Fourth, uploading sketches. As mentioned in the last article, I'm using a USBtinyISP. For that, I use ISP_PROG = usbtiny and sketches are uploaded by typing make ispload rather than the usual make upload. change that if you're usinga different programmer.

With those preliminaries over: I ended up getting two different cores working, and there were two that didn't work. Install the cores in subdirectories in your ~/sketchbook/hardware directory. You can have multiple cores installed at once if you want to test different cores. Here are the recipes.

CodingBadly's arduino-tiny

This is the core that Simon says he prefers, so it's the one I'm going to use as my default. It's at https://github.com/Coding-Badly/arduino-tiny.git, and also a version on Google Code. (Neither one has been updated since 2013.)

git clone it into your sketchbook/hardware. Then either cp 'Prospective Boards.txt' boards.txt or create a new boards.txt and copy from 'Prospective Boards.txt' all the boards you're interested in (for instance, all the attiny85 definitions if attiny85 is the only attiny board you have).

Then your Makefile should look something like this:

ARDUINO_DIR = /path/to/arduino-1.8.5

BOARD_TAG = attiny85at8
ALTERNATE_CORE = tiny
F_CPU = 1000000L
ISP_PROG = usbtiny

include /path/to/Arduino-Makefile/Arduino.mk

If your Arduino software is installed in /usr/share/arduino you can omit the first line.

Now copy blink.ino -- of course, you'll have to change pin 13 to be something between 1 and 6 since that's how many pins an ATtiny has -- and try make and make ispload.

SpenceKonde's ATTinyCore

This core is at https://github.com/SpenceKonde/ATTinyCore.git. I didn't need to copy boards.txt or make any other changes, just clone it under sketches/hardware and then use this Makefile:

ARDUINO_DIR = /path/to/arduino-1.8.5

ALTERNATE_CORE = ATTinyCore
BOARD_TAG = attinyx5
BOARD_SUB = 85
F_CPU = 1000000L
ISP_PROG = usbtiny

include /path/to/Arduino-Makefile/Arduino.mk

Non-working Cores

There are plenty of other ATtiny cores around. Here are two that apparently worked once, but I couldn't get them working with the current version of the tools. I'll omit links to them to try to reduce the probability of search engines linking to them rather than to the more up-to-date cores.

Damellis's attiny (you may see this referred to as HLT after the domain name, "Highlowtech"), on GitHub as damellis/attiny, was the first core I got working with Debian's older version of arduino-mk and Arduino 1.8.4. But when I upgraded to the latest Arduino-Makefile and Arduino 1.8.5, it no longer worked. Ironic since an older version of it was the one used in most of the tutorials I found for using ATtiny with the Arduino IDE. Simon says this core is buggy: in particular, there are problems with software PWM.

I also tried rexxar-tc's arduino-tiny.core2 (also on GitHub). I couldn't get it to work with any of the Makefile or Arduino versions I tried, though it may have worked with Arduino 1.0.

With two working cores, I can get an LED to blink. But libraries are the point of using the Arduino framework ... and as I tried to move beyond blink.ino, I found that not all Arduino libraries work with ATtiny. In particular, Wire, used for protocols like I2C to talk to all kinds of useful chips, doesn't work without substantial revisions. But that's a whole separate topic. Stay tuned.

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[ 19:06 Nov 29, 2017    More hardware | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Sun, 26 Nov 2017

Reading an IR Remote on a Raspberry Pi Stretch with LIRC

I wrote earlier about how to use an IR remote on Raspbian Jessie.

It turns out several things have changed under Raspbian Stretch. Here's the abbreviated procedure for Stretch:

Install LIRC

$ sudo apt-get install lirc

Enable the LIRC Overlay

Eedit /boot/config.txt as root, look for this line and uncomment it:

# Uncomment this to enable the lirc-rpi module
dtoverlay=lirc-rpi
Or if you prefer to use a pin other than 18, change the pin assignment like this:
# Uncomment this to enable the lirc-rpi module
dtoverlay=lirc-rpi,gpio_in_pin=25,gpio_out_pin=17

See /boot/overlays/README for more information on overlays.

Fix the LIRC Options

Edit /etc/lirc/lirc_options.conf, comment out the existing driver and device lines, and add:

driver    = default
device = /dev/lirc0

Reboot and stop the daemon

Reboot the Pi.

Now a bunch of LIRC daemons will be running. You don't want them while you're configuring, and if you're eventually going to be reading button presses from Python, you don't want them at all.

Disable them temporarily with

sudo systemctl stop lircd
which seems to be shorthand for
sudo systemctl stop lircd.socket
sudo systemctl stop lircd.service

Be sure to check with ps aux | grep lirc to make sure you've turned them off.

If you want to disable them permanently,

sudo systemctl disable lircd.socket lircd.service lircd-setup.service lircd-uinput.service lircmd.service
I got that list from:
systemctl list-unit-files | grep lirc

But you need them if you want to read from the /var/run/lirc/lircd socket.

Use mode2 to verify it sees the buttons

With the daemons not running, a program called mode2 can verify that your device's buttons are being seen at all. I have no idea why it's named that, or what Mode 1 is.
mode2 -d /dev/lirc0

You should see lots of output. If you don't, double-check your wiring and everything else you've done up to now.

Set up an lircd.conf

Here's where it gets difficult. On Jessie, you could run irrecord -d /dev/lirc0 ~/lircd.conf as described in my earlier article.

However, that doesn't work on stretch. There's apparently a bug in the irrecord in stretch that makes it generate a file that doesn't work. If you try it and it doesn't work, run tail -f /var/log/messages | grep lirc and you may see Info: Cannot configure the rc device for /dev/lirc0 and when you press buttons you'll see Notice: repeat code without last_code received but you won't get any keys.

If you have a working lirc setup from a Jessie machine, try it first. If it doesn't work, there's a script you can try that converts older lirc conf files to a newer format. The safest way to try it is to copy (with cp -a) the whole /etc/lirc directory to a local directory and run:

/usr/share/lirc/lirc-old2new your-local-copy
Or if you feel brave, back up /etc/lirc and run sudo /usr/share/lirc/lirc-old2new with no arguments. Either way, you should get an lirc.conf that has a chance of working with stretch.

If you don't have a working Jessie config, you're in trouble. You might be able to edit the one from irrecord to make it work. Here's the first part of my working Jessie lircd.conf:

begin remote

  name  /home/pi/lircd.conf
  bits           16
  flags SPACE_ENC|CONST_LENGTH
  eps            30
  aeps          100

  header       9117  4494
  one           569  1703
  zero          569   568
  ptrail        575
  repeat       9110  2225
  pre_data_bits   16
  pre_data       0xFD
  gap          108337
  toggle_bit_mask 0x0

      begin codes
          KEY_POWER                0x00FF
          KEY_VOLUMEUP             0x807F
          KEY_STOP                 0x40BF
          KEY_BACK                 0x20DF
          KEY_PLAYPAUSE            0xA05F
          KEY_FORWARD              0x609F
          KEY_DOWN                 0x10EF
and here's the corresponding part of the nonworking one generated on Stretch:
begin remote

  name  DingMai
  bits           32
  flags SPACE_ENC|CONST_LENGTH
  eps            30
  aeps          100

  header       9117  4494
  one           569  1703
  zero          569   568
  ptrail        575
  repeat       9110  2225
  gap          108337
  toggle_bit_mask 0x0
  frequency    38000

      begin codes
          KEY_POWER                0x00FD00FF 0xBED8F1BC
          KEY_VOLUMEUP             0x00FD807F 0xBED8F1BC
          KEY_STOP                 0x00FD40BF 0xBED8F1BC
          KEY_BACK                 0x00FD20DF 0xBED8F1BC
          KEY_PLAYPAUSE            0x00FDA05F 0xBED8F1BC
          KEY_FORWARD              0x00FD609F 0xBED8F1BC
          KEY_DOWN                 0x00FD10EF 0xBED8F1BC

It looks like setting bits to 16 and then using the second quartet from each key might work. So try that if you're stuck.

Once you get irw working, you're home free. The Python modules probably still won't do anything useful, but you can use my pyirw.py script as a model for a simple way to read keys from the lirc daemon.

In case you hit problems beyond what I saw, I found this discussion useful, which links to a complete GitHub gist of instructions for setting up lirc on Stretch. Those instructions have a couple of extra steps involving module loading that it turned out I didn't need, and on the other hand it doesn't address the problems I saw with irrecord. It looks like lirc configuration is a black art, not a science. See what works for you. Good luck!

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[ 12:00 Nov 26, 2017    More hardware | permalink to this entry | comments ]

Thu, 02 Nov 2017

Programming an ATtiny85, Part 1: Using C with a USBtinyISP

[ATtiny85 and USBtinyISP programmer] Arduinos are great for prototyping, but for a small, low-power, cheap and simple design, an ATtiny chip seems like just the ticket. For just a few dollars you can do most of what you could with an Arduino and use a lot of the same code, as long as you can make do with a little less memory and fewer pins.

I've been wanting to try them, and recently I ordered a few ATtiny85 chips. There are quite a few ways to program them. You can buy programmers specifically intended for an ATtiny, but I already had a USBtinyISP, a chip used to program Arduino bootloaders, so that's what I'll discuss here.

Wiring to the USBtinyISP

[ATtiny85 and USBtinyISP wiring] The best reference I found on wiring was Using USBTinyISP to program ATTiny45 and ATTiny85. That's pretty clear, but I made my own Fritzing diagram, with colors, so it'll be easy to reconstruct it next time I need it. The colors I used:
MISO yellow VCC red
SCK white MOSI green
RESET orange
or red/black
GND black

Programming the ATtiny in C

I found a couple of blink examples at electronut.in, Getting Started with ATtiny AVR programming, and in a Stack Exchange thread, How to program an AVR chip in Linux Here's some basic blink code:

#include 
#include 

int main (void)
{
    // Set Data Direction to output on port B, pins 2 and 3:
    DDRB = 0b00001000;
    while (1) {
        // set PB3 high
        PORTB = 0b00001000;
        _delay_ms(500);
        // set PB3 low
        PORTB = 0b00000000;
        _delay_ms(500);
    }

    return 1;
}

Then you need a Makefile. I started with the one linked from the electronut page above. Modify it if you're using a programmer other than a USBtinyISP. make builds the program, and make install loads it to the ATtiny. And, incredibly, my light started blinking, the first time!

[ATtiny85 pinout] Encouraged, I added another LED to make sure I understood. The ATtiny85 has six pins you can use (the other two are power and ground). The pin numbers correspond to the bits in DDRB and PORTB: my LED was on PB3. I added another LED on PB2 and made it alternate with the first one:

    DDRB = 0b00001100;
[ ... ]
        // set PB3 high, PB2 low
        PORTB = 0b00001000;
        _delay_ms(500);
        // set PB3 low, PB2 high
        PORTB = 0b00000100;
        _delay_ms(500);

Timing Woes

But wait -- not everything was rosy. I was calling _delay_ms(500), but it was waiting a lot longer than half a second between flashes. What was wrong?

For some reason, a lot of ATtiny sample code on the web assumes the chip is running at 8MHz. The chip's internal oscillator is indeed 8MHz (though you can also run it with an external crystal at various speeds) -- but its default mode uses that oscillator in "divide by eight" mode, meaning its actual clock rate is 1MHz. But Makefiles you'll find on the web don't take that into account (maybe because they're all copied from the same original source). So, for instance, the Makefile I got from electronut has

CLOCK = 8000000
If I changed that to
CLOCK = 1000000
now my delays were proper milliseconds, as I'd specified. Here's my working attiny85 blink Makefile.

In case you're curious about clock rate, it's specified by what are called fuses, which sound permanent but aren't: they hold their values when the chip loses power, but you can set them over and over. You can read the current fuse settings like this:

avrdude -c usbtiny -p attiny85 -U lfuse:r:-:i -v
which should print something like this:
avrdude: safemode: hfuse reads as DF
avrdude: safemode: efuse reads as FF
avrdude: safemode: Fuses OK (E:FF, H:DF, L:62)

To figure out what that means, go to the Fuse calculator, scroll down to Current settings and enter the three values you got from avrdude (E, H and L correspond to Extended, High and Low). Then scroll up to Feature configuration to see what the fuse settings correspond to. In my case it was Int. RC Osc. 8 Mhz; Start-up time PWRDWN/RESET; 6CK/14CK+ 64ms; [CKSEL=1011 SUT=10]; default value and Divide clock by 8 internally; [CKDIV8=0] was checked.

More on ports and pins

There's more info on ATtiny ports in ATTiny Port Manipulation (Part 1): PinMode() and DigitalWrite()

Nobody seems to have written much about AVR/ATTINY programming in general. Symbols like PORTB and functions like _delay_ms() come from files in /usr/lib/avr/include/, at least on my Debian system. There's not much there, so if you want library functions to handle nontrivial hardware, you'll have to write them or find them somewhere else.

As for understanding pins, you're supposed to go to the datasheet and read it through, all 234 pages. Hint: for understanding basics of reading from and writing to ports, speed forward to section 10, I/O Ports. A short excerpt from that section:

Three I/O memory address locations are allocated for each port, one each for the Data Register - PORTx, Data Direction Register - DDRx, and the Port Input Pins - PINx. The Port Input Pins I/O location is read only, while the Data Register and the Data Direction Register are read/write. However, writing a logic one to a bit in the PINx Register, (comma sic) will result in a toggle in the corresponding Data Register. In addition, the Pull-up Disable - PUD bit in MCUCR disables the pull-up function for all pins in all ports when set.

There's also some interesting information there about built-in pull-up resistors and how to activate or deactivate them.

That's helpful, but here's the part I wish they'd said:

PORTB (along with DDRB and PINB) represents all six pins. (Why B? Is there a PORTA? Not as far as I can tell; at least, no PORTA is mentioned in the datasheet.) There are six output pins, corresponding to the six pins on the chip that are not power or ground. Set the bits in DDRB and PORTB to correspond to the pins you want to set. So if you want to use pins 0 through 3 for output, do this:

    DDRB = 0b00001111;

If you want to set logical pins 1 and 3 (corresponding to pins 6 and 2 on the chip) high, and the rest of the pins low, do this:

    PORTB = 0b00001010;

To read from pins, use PINB.

In addition to basic functionality, all the pins have specialized uses, like timers, SPI, ADC and even temperature measurement (see the diagram above). The datasheet goes into more detail about how to get into some of those specialized modes.

But a lot of those specialties are easier to deal with using libraries. And there are a lot more libraries available for the Arduino C++ environment than there are for a bare ATtiny using C. So the next step is to program the ATtiny using Arduino ... which deserves its own article.

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[ 18:01 Nov 02, 2017    More hardware | permalink to this entry | comments ]