I just got my AVR Butterly from Element14. I’ve heard about AVR butterfly before but I started with AVR programming using Arduino. I guess a lot of people started with arduino because it’s easy to use.
A typical arduino is like $30. What’s nice about the AVR butterfly is that it only costs around $20 but it already has an these additional items on the board
100-segment LCD (without backlight)
4-Mbit (512-Kbyte) AT45 flash memory
4-way Mini-Joystick with center push-button
Light, temperature, and voltage (0-5 V range) sensors (light sensor no longer included due to the RoHS directive)
Programming the AVR Butterfly
There are a couple of ways to program the AVR butterfly. You don’t actually need a separate programmer since it comes with a pre-installed bootloader which allows the board to be re-programmed with just the serial port. You may also program it using an ISP or JTAG.
You can even use WINAVR and AVRDUDE. To flash the HEX file to the AVR Butterfly, you’ll just have to type something like this in the windows command line
c:\>avrdude -p atmega169 -c butterfly -P com1 -U flash:w:foo.hex
Can I use the arduino IDE to program AVR Butterfly?
Apparently, you can. There’s this thing called butteruino project which has the core code and libraries to integrate the AVR Butterfly with the Arduino environment.
What can you do with AVR Butterfly?
Somebody has made an mp3 player out of it. You can also use the AVR butterfly as a datalogger. Since this already has a built in LCD, there’s a lot of things you can do with it. Use it as a remote control for your mobot since it also has a joystick, you can add an external motor controller and use it as the brains of your autonomous mobot (ie. line follower, sumobot), add a relay and you can use it to turn on or turn off the power of your TV at a specific schedule, and many more. It’s up to your imagination.
There’s also a safety pin at the back so you can actually use this as a badge or ID. I think this would look great on events.
Most importantly, with just $20 you’ll have a nice cheap platform for learning embedded programming.