need to program an Octolively microcontroller
  • Hello, Please forgive my complete n00bishness here, because I have almost NO knowledge of electronics in general or microcontrollers in particular. I fried my microprocessor in my first octolively (let's not discuss the stupid reason why) and bought a new microcontroller. When I switched the fried microcontroller with one from another kit, the module worked, so I know a new controller should work.

    I need to program it with the standard octolivley program so it plays nicely with the other four I've made, but have no idea how. I have access to an arduino with a breadboard--will that work to transfer the program? Can someone please explain this as if I were 3 years old? Seriously, I just looked at "the adafruit USBtiny kit" and had no freaking idea what any of it meant. Bootloader?!

    Thanks for any assistance (especially the kind I can understand)

  • The process of programming a new chip is, generally speaking, not for 3 year olds.

    You'll need a computer, a programmer, and a "target board" -- a board that provides a place to put the chip (that you're going to program) and provides connections to the programming interface. Usually, you would use some sort of AVR ISP programmer (such as the USBtinyISP, the AVR ISP Mk II, or an arduino, pre-programmed with the ArduinoISP sketch) as the programming interface, and the Octolively board itself can be used as the target board. You do not need a bootloader; that's used for a different type of programming. In addition to that hardware, you'll also need to install some software on your computer (including AVR-GCC and avrdude) that can be used to compile and upload the new program.

    An example project that might point you in the right direction is here:

    You might also want to consider purchasing a pre-programmed microcontroller to save a few steps.
  • So, what I'm understanding (start laughing now) is that it's not as simple as formatting a boot disk for a raspberry pi or something like that! I have an arduino, which I've yet to use, so I'll start with that. Thank you.
  • It might be fair to say that the complexity comes not from any particular operation, but from the number of different ways to approach the problem.  To me, it's much easier to program an AVR than to format an RPi, but each of us comes with different experience.  If you'd like to attempt it yourself, I'll do my best to help. You'll need (at a minimum):

    * An AVR ISP programmer (which could be an Arduino running the Arduino as ISP sketch) or a stand-alone programmer.

    * A cable (6-pin DIL ribbon cable) to connect the programmer to the Octolively board (or any other target board that you'd prefer).

    * The AVR-GCC toolchain installed on your computer. The easiest way to do this is through (for example) WinAVR (on windows) or AVR Crosspack (for Mac).