Visual Studio, the AVR Studio 5 and some non-.Net Micro Framework hardware

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Today's Hardware Friday post dips back into the non-.Net Micro Framework land, without leaving the Microsoft space of course, as we follow along with the one and only Pete Brown and a new hardware adventure...

Getting Started with AVR Studio 5

As much as I like the .NET Micro Framework, and especially the .NET Gadgeteer line, I've been itching to try a little C/C++ for specific functions on boards. Consider things like chip controllers and stuff to offload work from the main micro controller, much like all those chips on your PC motherboard are doing to help the CPU. Generally, this is not a job for the .NET Micro Framework, although it can still be the main brain of the system.

There are lots of different types of microcontrollers out there, with the big three being ARM (which many vendors/manufacturers license), AVR (Atmel only) and PIC (Microchip technology chips that have been around forever).

For playing around at the moment, I chose an AVR MCU on a test board. I haven't committed to any particular MCU for any projects yet. My main criteria is simply that I be able to code in C/C++ and not be forced to use assembly unless I want real optimization of a specific feature.


AVR Studio is Atmel's free development environment for coding for their 8 and 32 bit AVR micro processors. AVR Studio 5 uses the Visual Studio 2010 Isolated Shell for the IDE. This is a product that doesn't get a ton of attention in the developer community, but makes it easier for other companies to quickly create developer solutions for their own products.

In this case, it is Atmel AVR Studio 5, which uses the GCC tool chain for the compiler, and some additional tools for actually sending bits down to the microcontroller.

  • Installation
  • Running AVR Studio
  • Running AVR Studio Take 2
  • Hello World: Yes! Another BlinkenLed Project!
  • Deploying the application


Atmel AVR Studio 5 (Marketing/Overview page)

Atmel® AVR Studio® 5 is the Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for developing and debugging embedded Atmel AVR® applications. The AVR Studio 5 IDE gives you a seamless and easy-to-use environment to write, build, and debug your C/C++ and assembler code.




Atmel AVR Studio 5.0 (Product/Download Page)

The AVR Studio® 5 editor simplifies code editing and lets you write code more efficiently. It supports all 8- and 32-bit AVR microcontrollers, and connects seamlessly to Atmel AVR debuggers and development kits.
The AVR Studio 5 IDE gives you a seamless and easy-to-use environment to write, build, and debug your C/C++ and assembler code.
What's new in AVR Studio 5:

  • One environment for 8- and 32-bit
  • Integrated C Compiler
  • New Project Wizard
  • A Better Editor
  • Atmel AVR Software Framework
  • Support for JTAGICE3 in-system debugger
What's new in version 5.0:
  • AVR Software Framework updated to 2.6.0
  • AVR Toolchain updated to 3.2.3
  • Added support for STK500
  • Added support for HVSP/HVPP programming in AVR Dragon
  • Added "start without debugging" support for programmers and kits.

If you dream in C/C++, the .Net Micro Framework is not your hardware cup of tea, yet you would hate to leave your Visual Studio behind, this platform might what you're looking for.

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