Technical Projects







Atmex An entry-level Atmel Experimentation System


Atmex is a prototyping system for someone who is just beginning to work with microcontrollers. It uses the Atmel ATtiny2313 chip, an inexpensive but reasonably powerful microcontroller which has bootloading capability. The Atmex board has a serial port so that the user can easily upload new code without the use of a microcontroller programmer (such as the STK-500, AVRISP, etc). Programming software open source and is written in java so it can run on any computer. At a total cost of less than $10, each project can be dedicated its own board.

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Atmex is meant to function as 'digital glue,' and as a next-step-up from the oft-used iRX board and system. For more information abuot iRX (IR eXperimenter board) system, please read the very nice webpage. iRX uses a Microchip PIC microcontroller, as opposed to an Atmel AVR microcontroller and they are NOT compatible!


Hardware Overview

Atmex is primarily a hardware platform, a 1.5" x 3" board, half of which is a mixed analog/digital prototyping area.

The board is meant to embody the most basic hardware requirements for simple microcontroller projects. That is: regulated power input, serial communication (for interfacing to a computer and debugging), an LED, a reset button and a breakout section. In quantities of 25, the board costs $10 total, and can be assembled by someone with virtually no soldering experience.

Firmware Overview
The microcontroller is intialized with the Atmex firmware, a 512byte bootloader that allows the user to upload new code from the built-in serial port.


The bootloader is in the bottom quarter of program memory. The first instruction in memory (which is where the chip starts execution) directs it to go to the bootloader beginning. The bootloader waits to see if any serial input arrives within 3 seconds, in which case it readies itself for programming, verification, etc. Otherwise, it jumps to address 0x2ff (right before the bootloader). If there is code loaded into the microcontroller, it jumps to the beginning of the loaded program.

Software Overview
The software, known as JAvrProg, is a java bootloading interface. It allows the user to upload, download and verify code on the Atmex.

JAvrProg runs on any computer with a Java Runtime Environment and the Java SerialComm library installed. Browse for a Intel Hex file, then program the flash, or verify that it is the same code that is already on the chip. The code can also be read (and the programmed onto a different board)

Right now, EEPROM programming isn't supported but it will be very soon.

In theory, JAvrProg could support any bootloader, but not without modification since it uses the particular booloading method outlined above.