An AVR is a low cost programmable microcontroller that can be used in a wide number of different electronic products. The AVR offers everything that a larger chip provides, including memory, ADC and serial ports but in a much smaller package. Many components can be connected directly onto the AVR microcontroller, saving space and increasing your ability to customise the chip to suit your needs.
AVR microcontrollers are designed to run a single program and don’t need an operating system to control them. Programs are pre-programmed onto the AVR so it can perform the simple tasks it has been set to carry out. A good example of the use of an AVR microcontroller is in washing machines. The processor is programmed to control the settings on the machine, taking the inputs you make on the control panel and ensuring the required outputs are performed, whilst carry out a sequence of time controlled tasks.
The AVR microcontroller is probably the best microcontroller to learn with due to its clear instruction set, simple development environment and effective free C compiler. The AVR Dragon is a combined programmer and emulator that both lets you program code into the AVR microcontroller and step through it to find all the bugs.
The AVR Dragon from ATMEL, the manufacturers of the AVR microcontroller, is regarded as a low cost alternative to more expensive development tools. It is designed to be entry-level and help new developers to quickly hone their skills and debug their code effectively for fast results. The AVR Dragon can handle 8-bit AVR and 16-bit ATxmega devices and uses the OCD (on-chip Debug) capability of these chips, meaning it can work with a wide number of different devices in real time for efficient code debugging.
A big advantage of AVR Dragon is that it works with free software that you can download directly from ATMEL’s website, AVR Studio or Atmel Studio. This means there are even less costs to worry about and you can always rely on the manufacturer for advice and guidance. Periodic updates to Atmel Studio means that your AVR Dragon will not become obsolete.
When properly configured, AVR Dragons provide several different programming and debug interfaces, meaning they can be used in different applications. They are capable of performing normal ISP programming, JTAG programming and PDI programming of some ATxmega microcontrollers. The TDI interface on some of the latest ATtiny microcontrollers is also supported.
In debug mode, they support all AVR devices with OCD capability and all ATxmega microcontrollers. Smaller chips use DebugWire for debugging and larger ones (40-pin+) use the JTAG interface. Single step, step into and run to breakpoint emulation modes are supported in both assembler and C projects to make debugging your code simple. OCD lets debugging happen in real time. This versatility and low cost makes the AVR Dragon the product of choice for most beginners.
The Kanda version of Atmel AVR Dragon includes all the leads and cables needed to connect to your AVR target, whether 6 or 10 pin AVR, PDI, DebugWire or JTAG interface is used.
Kanda also supply a training kit with AVR Dragon included. STK200-X-DRAGON has a comprehensive development board, AVR Dragon and a full training course.