While many people are still using the old, steady ATmega324 and its derivatives, Atmel (and now Microchip) have not stopped advancing their designs. A couple of years ago, we got the tinyAVR 0/1 series, as well as the megaAVR 0 series. Now they have come out with another new line: the megaAVR DA-series. These are similar to the previous megaAVT 0, but with a higher clock rate, lower power consumption, improved peripherals, and a renewed focus on capacitive touch buttons & sliders. An awesome set of simple dev boards for the AVR DA series has been released by Azzy’s Electronics.
With up to 128k of Flash, and 32k of SRAM, these are much beefier than the old standby ATmega324. They can run up to 24MHz (and, during testing, apparently up to 32MHz without issue) while having up to 55 GPIO, a 12-bit ADC, 10-bit DAC, and a dedicated peripheral touch controller that can support up to 529 segments in mutual capacitance mode! I highly recommend checking out the full datasheet for the AVR128DA – you’ll be impressed with how feature-packed they are.
Azzy’s Electronics have created an Arduino-compatible bootloader core called DxCore which allows easy programming with the Arduino environment. They are also working on getting the official Arduino Optiboot bootloader ported to this new architecture, which should be (fingers crossed) coming soon. Most existing Arduino libraries that work with the megaAVR 0 series should work with the DA series. Azzy’s has created a new NeoPixel library for these boards that has an identical interface to the Adafruit NeoPixel library, but which supports higher speeds.
These development boards are, in my opinion, exactly what development boards should be. They break out all the pins of the microcontroller; they have an on-board voltage regulator; an LED and a button; and the programming header broken out. That’s it! This is important, as dev boards should be inexpensive enough that they can be embedded into projects, or treated as “expendable” and hacked to pieces if needed. I do love playing with the super-high-end development kits, but having an inexpensive alternative like this is super important for actual day-to-day development. Kudos to Azzy’s for making a great, inexpensive and simple-to-use dev board for this exciting new series of chips!