Arduino soul possession

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Published: Updated:
smiling gear above the conveyor

There is an ongoing investigation about this topic. This article will be properly formatted, thoughtfully completed, proofread and will be more pictures if you will. It shouldn't take long, but usually there are a few projects happening in parallel, so you can track how I handle the load on Twitter.

This is the first step in my ambitious project to create a successful geek product.

So I have two AVR chips: ATMega8l-8pu and ATMega8a-8p.



For comparison I use ATMEga328p that I have on Arduino UNO R3 (that's a chinese clone from Open Smart) Datasheet

Attribute ATMega8 ATMega328P
MCU name atmega8 atmega328p
Maximum Clock Frequency 8 MHz 20 MHz
Data Bus Width 8 bit 8 bit
ADC Resolution 10 bit 10 bit
Number of ADC Channels 6 8
Interface Type 2-Wire, SPI, USART I2C, SPI, USART
Number of I/Os 23 23
Number of Timers/Counters 3 Timers 3 Timers
Program Memory Size 8 kB 32 kB
Data RAM Size 1 kB 2 kB
Data ROM Size 512 B 1 kB
Package / Case PDIP-28 TQFP-32
Dimensions (HxLxW) 3.3 mm x 34.67 mm x 7.62 mm 1 mm x 7 mm x 7 mm
Supply Voltage 2.7 V - 5.5 V 1.8 V - 5.5 V


Note 1: ATMega8 works on 1 MHz without external clock

Note 2: Interesting element I noticed—anolog comparator. Only one. It seems, that this is what I'm looking. According to wikipedia I can find very fast comparators. Like LMH7220

From Raspberry Pi to the chip

But as long as I remember there is a chicken-egg problem related to this microcontroller hobby: to flash one of them you need to make a jtag - device that communicates over USB with your computer and on special protocol it communicates between itself and another Atmega chip that you want to burn. Not literally though.

Surely you can buy such thing. But I've got a question. Can I do it from Raspberry Pi? Apparently, yes! So I'm following this tutorial from Adafruit, but it's not explaining how to install and use avr-gcc. It actually very simple.

Main question

My main question that cannot be highlighted even more by just writing it all caps (but I will not write it this way, because it's not polite): Why we don't use SPI pins? If they are random pins, why not to chose all consecutive?


Build from source? No, just run

sudo apt install avr-libc binutils-avr gcc-avr

The hello world of microcontrollers blinking LED blink.c

// F_CPU is only a way for you to *tell* _delay_ms() how fast your MCU is running
// Note: set lfuse to 0xE4 to make AVR work at 8MHz
// 8MHz
#define F_CPU 8000000UL

#include <avr/io.h>
#include <util/delay.h>

int main()
  // each port consists of three registers DDRx PORTx, and PINx (for instance DDRA, PORTA, and PINA)
  DDRC |= (1 << DDC1);    // Make pin 13 be an output.  
    // use PORTx to control pin source
    PORTC |= (1 << PORTC1);   // Turn the LED on.
    PORTC &= ~(1 << PORTC1);  // Turn the LED off.
  // Note: PINx is used for reading input states

  return 0;

And it's make file.

CFLAGS=-g -Wall -mmcu=$(MCU) -Os
LDFLAGS=-Wl,-gc-sections -Wl,-relax

all: $(TARGET).hex

	rm -f *.o *.hex *.obj *.hex

%.hex: %.obj
	$(OBJCOPY) -R .eeprom -O ihex $< $@

%.obj: %.o
	$(CC) $(CFLAGS) $< $(LDFLAGS) -o $@

program: $(TARGET).hex
	$(DUDE) -p $(MCU) -c $(PROGRAMMER_NAME) -v -U flash:w:$(TARGET).hex:i

I might go fancy and will create script for CMake. Or Gradle.

Then build it



There are two power and two ground pins. They are NOT redundant. One set is Digital VCC and GND, the other is Analog VCC and GND. Ideally, you should use an inductor between the DVCC and AVCC pins, for noise sensitive analog circuits, but at the minimum, DVCC and AVCC should be connected, as should DGnd and AGnd. A decoupling cap for both (~0.1uf) is recommended as well, but you could just use one for DVCC/DGnd.

Here is how: picture Only grounds are important to connect together according to this diagram

Then check the connection

sudo avrdude -p atmega8 -C avrdude_gpio.conf -c pi_1 -v

I'm using very sketchy breadboard that requires soldering but I keep all parts loose. Under no circumstances it can be a problem, but I get

avrdude: AVR device not responding

Sad face :(

The usual debugging methodology for bitbang programmers involves to omit the target AVR, and shortcut MISO and MOSI. Then, run AVRDUDE with -vvvv (that's four option letters v), which will dump the entire low-level communication. You should see the programming enable sequence AC 53 00 00 echoed back with an offset of one octet FF FF 53 00.


I'm getting back the same AC 53 00 00. Strange.

The Serial Programming instructions will not work if the communication is out of synchronization. When in sync. the second byte (0x53), will echo back when issuing the third byte of the Programming Enable instruction. Whether the echo is correct or not, all four bytes of the instruction must be transmitted. If the 0x53 did not echo back, give RESET a positive pulse and issue a new Programming Enable command


I successfully tested the same procedure with a firm ISP connector on Arduino UNO R3. But I still think my chips are dead than it's the wiring.

Test SPI

Currently I'm going to use ATMega328P from Arduino UNO, but I'll try to find answers for these questions:

  • Is it possible to use any GPIO pin on Raspberry Pi for SPI communication? Why not? Why only two marked?
  • How to test ATMega8 chips if they are bricked or not? What minimum board/equipment is required?

From Arduino to ATMega8

This is my path now:

  • Connect arduino to the laptop
  • Install Arduino ISP sketch on it (Arduino IDE 1.8.15: File -> Examples -> 11. ArduinoISP)
  • Now forget that it's an Arduino that's connected to the laptop—it's a programmer. While it's still connected to USB port, it communicates over serial protocol with the laptop, but it will use ISP on the side between itself (Arduino) and another chip. Be careful with serial communication—use the same baud rate on both sides
  • Connect ATMega8 to the programmer (miso, mosi, clk, reset, power, gnd)
  • Run avrdude with programmer set to avrisp and flash ATMege chip with a program (hex file)
  • Boom! 💥

Also this tutorial a bit off, but it shows how to connect a crystal to ATMega8


Further reading

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