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Using Atmel Studio 6

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Introducing the All New

Atmel Studio 6 Banner

So till now, we all were using AVR Studio 5 for programming our awesome AVR microcontrollers. But now, we won’t be using that anymore, because Atmel has released its new version!

But why not AVR Studio 6?

Yes, this is a question which even I asked when I heard its name. Seems like Atmel has been manufacturing a lot of ARM Cortex-M and wanted to give its users seamless and easy-to-use environment to write, build and debug their applications written in C/C++ or assembly code. So this gave rise to the new Atmel (not AVR) Studio 6. Two architectures (ARM/AVR), One Studio! Have a look at the following video.

Using Atmel Studio 6

Those who have been using AVR Studio 5 will find the new Atmel Studio 6 “exactly” same as before! So since there isn’t quite much difference between the two softwares, I would copy and paste the same tutorial here, with the necessary changes done so that the newbies don’t have to read the previous post on AS5. So here it goes…

Embedded C welcomes you! – Revisited

Hello folks! Now that you are aware of the different port operations in AVR, we can move forward to actually code our way right through it! Since we will be using C (in fact Embedded C), the best software is the Atmel Studio 6 by Atmel. This version is the successor of the previous AVR Studio 5. The best part about both is that they are very interactive, user friendly, have awesome UI and unlike other compilers, they are totally free of costYou can download it from here.

For those who do not want to register in order to download, I am posting the direct download links of the images here. Please report to me if the links are not proper, I will update them in that case.

You have been familiar with C (I presume). You have been working with normal data types and have been writing codes that run on a computer. But now, we will be using the same C (with some modifications) to run our microcontroller (MCU). The C used in embedded systems design is called Embedded C. Here, you will come across the same if, for, while, do while, case, switch, etc, but you will be introduced to newer data types (actually a modification of the existing ones), newer libraries, newer built-in functions and newer registers!

What do we need?

The following software will assist you in your work. You can download them from the links provided. We will discuss them one by one here.

Apart from FreeISP, there are many more GUI for avrdude, like the AVRDude-GUIAVR8 Burn-O-Mat, etc. They all are simple to use, but I have discussed only FreeISP and eXtreme Burner here. But unlike FreeISP or eXtreme Burner, AVRDude-GUI supports all kinds of programmers supported by avrdude.


Installation of these software is pretty straightforward. You should not face any trouble in it. During the installation of Atmel Studio 6, it might need to install some other stuffs before the actual installation begins. If you face any trouble in installation, you are free to drop a comment below.


Atmel Studio 6

Let’s have a look at the features of Atmel Studio before we proceed.

  • It is an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) for AVR Software.
  • It allows chip simulation and in-circuit emulation.
  • It supports the whole AVR family of Microcontrollers (MCUs).
  • It has easy to use User Interface (UI) and gives complete overview.
  • It uses same UI for simulation and emulation.
  • It supports both Atmel AVR and ARM processors.
  • It has more than 1100 code examples.
  • It has support for both C and C++.

Creating your first AVR Project

Here is a step-by-step guide regarding how to create your first AVR Project using Atmel Studio 6.

  • After installation, open Atmel Studio 6 from Start → All Programs → Atmel → Atmel Studio 6.0
  • After opening, you will see a Start Page like this. Click on “New Project…“.
Atmel Studio 6 Start Page

Atmel Studio 6 Start Page

  • Then, you will see the following dialog box. Choose C/C++ from the ‘Installed Templates’ pane, and then choose GCC C Executable Project. Now, you can give any name to it, say MyFirstProject and choose an appropriate location in your hard drive. Check Create directory for solution. Click on OK.
Atmel Studio New Project

Atmel Studio New Project

  • Now, you will see the Device Selection dialog box. As you can see, Atmel Studio supports all the AVR MCUs and ARM processors! The list is huge! Choose your device from this list. We choose ATmega32. Click OK.
Atmel Studio Device Selection

Atmel Studio Device Selection

  • Now, you will see the following screen. Note that the basic program structure is already prepared for you. You simply need to initialize your variables and place your code inside the while(1) loop.
Atmel Studio New Project Start Screen

Atmel Studio New Project Start Screen

  • Congratulations! You have successfully created your first AVR Project! Now to further proceed with it, we need to write a code, which is discussed in the next part.
  • Have a look at the awesome AVR Studio IDE. Feel free to explore the software. We will discuss some of the required components as and when necessary.

Writing the code

LED Blinking Schematic

LED Blinking Schematic

Now that you have successfully created your new project, we need to write a code in the AVR Studio Code Window. Let’s write the code for the problem statement discussed in this post. We will write the code for blinking an LED. The schematic for physical connection is given below. Please note that it’s just a schematic of the region of interest. For full schematic, view the circuit diagram of your development board.

Now most of you will copy and paste the code. But I suggest you to type the whole code. This will introduce you to a whole new feature! While typing any keyword or inbuilt function, Atmel Studio 6 automatically displays a list of possible functions/keywords that you wish to type (thanks to Visual Basic support). You can select it and hit enter key. This increases your typing speed also (somehow!). Plus it also gives you greater confidence in writing the code.

#include #include                 // for _delay_ms()int main(void){    DDRC = 0x01;                       // initialize port C    while(1)    {        // LED on        PORTC = 0b00000001;            // PC0 = High = Vcc        _delay_ms(500);                // wait 500 milliseconds        //LED off        PORTC = 0b00000000;            // PC0 = Low = 0v        _delay_ms(500);                // wait 500 milliseconds    }}

Code Explained:

  • #include  is a header files which provides you with various i/o operations like DDRx, PINx, PORTx, etc.
  • #include  is a header file which provides you with inbuilt delay functions like _delay_loop_1(), _delay_loop_2(), _delay_ms(), _delay_us(), etc.
  • Rest of the code is simple and straightforward. For details regarding how to use DDRx and PORTx, view this post.
  • _delay_ms(xxx) provides a delay xxx milliseconds whereas _delay_us(xxx) provides a delay of xxx microseconds. There are two more types of delays which are used commonly, _delay_loop_1() and _delay_loop_2(), but to understand their concept, you need to be familiarized with timers, which we will discuss later.

Configuring Atmel Studio 6

There are two things that you must configure in order to make your code run in your MCU in a better way.

  • Setting up your clock frequency F_CPU
  • Choosing Optimization Level

Setting up Clock Frequency F_CPU

This is a very essential step. This is because if you don’t set your clock frequency, the whole timing would go wrong. _delay_ms(500) will wait for 500ms, but it counts with respect to your clock frequency. If your F_CPU setting is wrong, it won’t wait for 500ms. It will either wait longer or for lesser time. By default, delay.h defines F_CPU=1000000UL (1MHz). UL stands for unsigned long. But this isn’t always the case. Check your development board if any crystal oscillator is present or not (across the XTAL pins). If it is present, note down the exact value of the frequency. If no, then choose either 1MHz, 2MHz, 4MHz or 8MHz depending upon the fuses set in your MCU (I expect that correct fuses must have been written. We will discuss about fuses later).

Note: You must set fuse bits for a new AVR microcontroller. These fuse bits will specify the correct clock frequency (whether to follow internal clock or external clock) and many other settings. They are set only once, and hence MUST be set correctly, or else you will render your MCU useless. To learn about fuses, view this.

Now, how to put? Well, the simplest way is to add the following code before including the header files.

#ifndef F_CPU#define F_CPU 16000000UL // or whatever may be your frequency#endif// remember to put it before delay.h// now include the header files#include #include // rest code goes here

You need to add it before every code you write. Or else, you can go to Project menu → HelloWorld Properties (Alt+F7) → Toolchain → AVR/GNU C Compiler → Symbols → Add F_CPU=16000000UL to Defined Symbols.

Always check this out before compiling your code.

Atmel Studio Clock Optimization

Atmel Studio Clock Optimization

Optimizing your Code

You need to choose an appropriate optimization level for your code. Choosing the right optimization level will result in smaller hex file and faster compilation time. You can do it so by going to Project menu → HelloWorld Properties (Alt+F7) → Toolchain → AVR/GNU C Compiler → Optimization → Choose -O2 as Optimization Level.

Atmel Studio Code Optimization

Atmel Studio Code Optimization

To know what optimization is, view this. For more details regarding optimization of code in AVR, visit this page. For details regarding the meanings of different optimization levels, view the GCC-GNU User Manual.

Building your code

After writing the code and configuring it, we proceed to build it. To do so, go to Build menu → Build Solution (F7). Now, it builds your GCC C project. After the build process has finished, you will see the details in the Output window (below the source code window). There, you can check your memory usage and the build log. In the end, it shows Build Succeeded. If it doesn’t show, check you code once again and check whether you have configured your project properly. If still it shows Build Unsuccessful, then post your queries here, I will look into the matter.

Build Output Message

Build Output Message

Now, once you have built your code, a .hex file has been generated for your .c file. You can find it in the following directory

...path to your folder/HelloWorld/HelloWorld/Debug/HelloWorld.hex

The next step is to burn this hex file into your  MCU. For this, we will use avrdude. AVR Programming can also take place from within AVR Studio 5, but at present, AVR Studio 5 has support only for the current Atmel Programmers. But most of the programmers available are AVRISP, AVRISP mkII, USBtinyISP, USBasp, etc. So, we will be using avrdude.

If you use AVRISP and USBtinyISP, or want to learn how to use avrdude GUI, proceed to the next section. If you use USBasp, then skip the next section and jump over to the topic eXtreme Burner – AVR.

Attention: AVR Studio 4 Users

There will be many who have previously worked with AVR Studio 4. The interface of AVR Studio 5 is a lot different than its earlier editions. Also, the AS4 project is not supported by AS5. For that, you can open AS5, go to File menu → Import → Import AVR Studio 4 Project. This converts AS4 project into AS5 solution and then opens in AS5.

Using AVRDude with FreeISP

AVRDude stands for AVR Downloader Uploader. It is a free software that comes with WinAVR package. It’s an executable program which can be run using the command prompt. To have a detailed idea of how avrdude works and how to run it using command prompt, view this page. But if you have an AVRISP programmer, we have a GUI for you! Its called FreeISP. The download link is provided at the top.

Please Note: Apart from FreeISP, there are many more GUI for avrdude, like the AVRDude-GUIAVR8 Burn-O-Mat, etc. They all are simple to use, but I have discussed only FreeISP and eXtreme Burner here. But unlike FreeISP or eXtreme Burner, AVRDude-GUI supports all kinds of programmers supported by avrdude.

  • Open FreeISP by clicking it’s icon. If an error like Error reading application settings pops up, simply click OK.
FreeISP Interface

FreeISP Interface

  • In the window that opens, choose the paths of your avrdude.exe file and MyFirstProject.hex file. If you have an EEPROM file, choose the path, or else leave it blank. (For the above code, leave it blank).
  • Choose you device and the COM port.
  • Choose AVRISP as the programming hardware.
  • Make sure that only ‘Program Flash’ is checked.
  • IMPORTANT: Make sure that you program only flash (and EEPROM wherever necessary). DO NOT PROGRAM FUSE BITS AND LOCK BITS without any prior knowledge, or else you might end up damaging your AVR permanently.
  • Click Program.

After you click program, FreeISP invokes avrdude and passes the required comments to it as per your inputs. Then avrdude reads your device and verifies your device ID and your chip signature. After that, it erases the flash and then writes the new hex file specified by you into the flash. Then it once again reads the flash in order to verify the data. And thus after all this, your code is burnt into the MCU and your MCU is ready to use! It might have already started to respond to your code… check that the LEDs must be blinking!

If programmed correctly, you should see something like this.

avrdude.exe: AVR device initialized and ready to accept instructionsReading | ################################################## | 100% 0.01savrdude.exe: Device signature = 0x1e9502avrdude.exe: NOTE: FLASH memory has been specified, an erase cycle will be performed             To disable this feature, specify the -D option.avrdude.exe: erasing chipavrdude.exe: reading input file "C:\Users\Mayank\Simulations\AVRStudio\AVR Studio 5\MyFirstProject\MyFirstProject\Debug\MyFirstProject.hex"avrdude.exe: writing flash (206 bytes):Writing | ################################################## | 100% 0.13savrdude.exe: 206 bytes of flash writtenavrdude.exe: verifying flash memory against C:\Users\Mayank\Simulations\AVRStudio\AVR Studio 5\MyFirstProject\MyFirstProject\Debug\MyFirstProject.hex:avrdude.exe: load data flash data from input file C:\Users\Mayank\Simulations\AVRStudio\AVR Studio 5\MyFirstProject\MyFirstProject\Debug\MyFirstProject.hex:avrdude.exe: input file C:\Users\Mayank\Simulations\AVRStudio\AVR Studio 5\MyFirstProject\MyFirstProject\Debug\MyFirstProject.hex contains 206 bytesavrdude.exe: reading on-chip flash data:Reading | ################################################## | 100% 0.11savrdude.exe: verifying ...avrdude.exe: 206 bytes of flash verifiedavrdude.exe: safemode: Fuses OKavrdude.exe done.  Thank you.

Now, if you use USBasp programmer, we have another awesome GUI for you, eXtreme Burner – AVR !

Using eXtreme Burner – AVR

Now for those who use USBasp programmer, the best GUI that I could find is the eXtreme Burner – AVR. This GUI has been developed by Avinash Gupta of eXtreme Electronics, India. You can find his tutorial here. It is available for Windows XPWindows Vista/7 (32/64 bit), Linux (Fedora 10Ubuntu 10.10). A few screen shots (Windows) are shown below.

eXtreme Burner

GUI Software for USBasp

GUI Software for USBasp

GUI Software for USBasp – Burn Progress

GUI Software for USBasp

GUI Software for USBasp – Task Complete!

So, I guess we are done regarding how to use Atmel Studio 6. You can connect more than one LED and create different blinking patterns! You can do whatever you want! And you can also post comments down here to let me know! 3660040649_AsKOQP8g_icon_wink.gif3Fm3D1129645325g

If you have any kind of suggestions, clarifications, constructive criticism etc, you can post your comments below! 3660040649_MIHnuPSx_icon_smile.gif3Fm3D1129645325g I will be glad to see them! Also you can grab the RSS Feeds or subscribe to my website to stay updated!

Thank You

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