Engineers can attest to the problems they encounter when they connect a microcontroller to sensors. The lack of MCU-specific drivers further complicates the process and can lead to heated discussions about whether software or hardware should take the blame for problems.
Atmel has simplified life for engineers, programmers, and product designers by including sensor-driver code in the AVR Studio 5 integrated development environment. Atmel calls these drivers “Sensors Xplained,” and makes them available as part of the IDE, which you can download here at no charge.
The first batch of Sensor Xplained drivers arose from cooperation between Atmel and sensor suppliers AKM, Bosch Sensortec, Honeywell, Invensense, Kionix, and Osram Opto Semiconductors. You can expect new companies and sensors to join the Sensors Xplained efforts.
The driver software provides sensor-interface functions via a standard API (application programming interface) that allows you to collect raw data from a sensor, as well as data formatted in standard engineering units. Thus, you won’t have to calibrate or convert the binary information from an ADC into units of barometric pressure or acceleration, for example. The code also includes several high-level application examples created by Atmel and sensor suppliers already optimized for the AVR architecture. In short, the drivers simplify calibration, data scaling and conversion, and the interoperability of sensors from different vendors.
The Sensors Xplained software drivers and expansion boards work with all of the Atmel Xplained series boards for the AVR MCU family, and as of June 22, there are three sensor boards available from Atmel.
- Inertial Sensor Board One (ATAVRSBIN1): Provides nine degrees of freedom for inertial sensing. Includes an Invensense ITG-3200 3-axis gyro, Bosch Sensortec BMA150 3-axis accelerometer, and AKM AK8975 3-axis magnetometer. Cost is $54.
- Inertial Sensor Board Two (ATAVRSBIN2): Provides nine degrees of freedom inertial sensing. Includes an Invensense IMU-3000 3-axis gyro, Kionix KXTF9 3-axis accelerometer, and a Honeywell HMC5883L 3-axis magnetometer. Cost is $54.
- Pressure Sensor Board One (ATAVRSBPR1): Includes a Bosch Sensortec BMP085 barometric pressure for atmospheric and altitude sensing. Cost is $24.
Click here for more information about these boards and the Xplained hardware and software.