Reprogramming an ATtiny85 Blink/Fade Board

Fire up the Arduino IDE and grab a SparkFun Tiny AVR Programmer…

A few years ago I helped Josh with the code for the Blink/Fade Board that Brown Dog Gadgets has in their Crazy Circuits kit.

This is a simple board that comes preprogrammed to do a few specific things, with the idea that you can start using it even if you don’t know how to program or upload code to a controller. Besides power in, ground, and reset, there are five GPIO pins that we can use:

  • Pin 0: fades in and out
  • Pin 1: heartbeat
  • Pin 2: twinkles randomly
  • Pin 3: blinks on and off
  • Pin 4: blinks off and on (alternates with Pin 3)

We’ve always said that expert users could reprogram it to do anything an ATtiny85 can do, but we never had a guide… until now. Courtesy of Brown Dog Gadgets here’s the Guide to Reprogramming a Blink/Fade Board!

We’re using the Arduino IDE along with a SparkFun Tiny AVR Programmer to do the heavy lifting… You’ll also need to build a little LEGO jig with some Maker Tape and Crazy Circuits components and some Dupont jumper wires to string it all together.

After I reprogrammed the board I popped it out of the programming jig and popped it into a simple circuit to control the brightness of an LED with a potentiometer. You can’t do too much with an ATtiny85 but it does have a few inputs & outputs and you can even control a NeoPixel strip with it! (A guide for that will be coming soon.)

Like most of the guides we do there are some nice diagrams and downloadable PDF files with more/helpful info. Here’s one covering the reprogramming aspect of the guide…

And here’s one that shows using the reprogrammed board in the LED/potentiometer circuit. (The code for BFDimmer is available.)

I’ve been doing my best to keep cranking out fun and educational guides for projects. While a lot of them have been focused on simple circuits or Arduino-based things, we’ll be expanding into Micro:bit projects in the coming weeks, which has definitely been interesting.