The ATTINY85 is a gem of a microcontroller. Its the “Nifty Fifty” of chips: cheap, small and versatile. This 8pin package is not the most powerful thing on the block but for good enough for most hobbyists and there are a million and one tiny projects that this is fully capable of running. And at $1-$2 a pop, its really hard to beat. Its almost disposable if you order a bunch for all your random little projects. It does take a bit more setup than an Arduino to get it running, but there are lots of easy to follow tutorials on the internets for people to follow. If you have an Arduino sitting around, its quite easy to use it to program the chip as well.
Most of my hobbies don’t get along with my bank account so its nice to find the little things that can be so interesting. So pick up a few and whether you make something useful or just plain silly, rest assured, it’ll be fun!
Inspiration here: ATTINY85 on Hack-a-Day
If you’ve never used Newark/element14 and find yourself disappointingly rummaging through your local electronic hobby parts store, read this review.
There’s great electronic component vendors out there. The local ones are all brilliantly expensive or have limited components in stock (Active Electronics and Sayal). I love Creatron Inc but they have relatively small selection and their website has even less and that’s me being generous. I’ve lately been ordering all my components from eBay vendors in China/HK and they have amazing prices and with free shipping its hard to beat. But 14-30 days wait time for deliveries to Toronto? I’m much too impatient, sorry. I’m lucky if I remember what I ordered 14 days later. So for huge supplies of assorted resistor, capacitor, etc. packs, eBay is great. I’ll need that stuff sooner or later anyway.
Now lets talk about Newark/element14.
- Price: Its well priced. Not always as cheap as eBay but nowhere near retail.
- Selection: MASSIVE. End of story. Hit search with an empty query and it finds 1,347,263 items. *drool*
- Quality: Awesome. You get what you pay for on eBay and retailers often have rummaged through stuff thats been sitting on the shelves for a while.
- Packaging: #winning! Here’s what impressed me the most. Take a look at the image below. Its stuff I’ve ordered off eBay vs Newark. There’s like 8 packs of Sorb-It (silica gel?) and a “Cobalt Dichloride Free” (uhhh what?) chemical test strip thing in a sealed ESD bag, all packaged in a large cardboard box with appropriate packing materials inside. Overkill probably. I don’t even know what that chemical test strip is for and I’m pretty sure 8 packs of gel is way too much for 25 SMD LEDs but I love it! LOVE IT! Also the LEDs are in more ESD tape itself. The UPS guy could have thrown the box from a plane in the middle of a lightning storm and this would be fine.
- Shipping: Any faster and I’d receive it before I even think about ordering it. I ordered over a dozen items yesterday morning and it was at my door this afternoon. And it came from the US. Things from the city itself takes longer sometimes. And this was their standard UPS shipping.
- The only downside? At $12 for flat rate shipping to Canada, its quite expensive for regular small orders. My $20 bill almost doubled with the shipping and taxes. Its fine if you have to order a lot of things but I can’t keep ordering everything I fancy like I do on eBay.
Can you tell which is from element 14 and which is from HK?