Adafruit Trinket USB keyboard without Arduino

Happy New Year 2016! After a long hiatus in electronics, I have been quite busy in the last month or so. I have a bigger (USB MIDI related) project posting coming up, but just wanted share a small nugget already.

I ordered a big chunk of things recently from Adafruit shop and Sparkfun. Among them was the lovely Adafruit Trinket (which actually came as a free bonus because I spent way too much on black friday :).

Now I am planning a project which involves transforming the very compact, but already USB-enabled Trinket into a USB MIDI device. However, there are two problems:

  1. Adafruit examples for USB come in Arduino form
  2. There are no USB MIDI examples

I somewhat dislike the high-level Arduino environment in cases where low-level performance is needed (and the V-USB implementation is one of those places), and for my later MIDI part, I will need fine-grained control to juggle serial communication and USB. Also, all USB MIDI examples are on “bare metal”, so the Adafruit example Arduino code would require deeper knowledge of Arduino inner workings than I have.

Time to do some chopping!

Slimming Down the TrinketKeyboard Example

I decided to adapt the excellent base code in Adafruit Trinket USB GitHub repository, but trim the keyboard example to bare essentials (my next step will be to transform it into a USB MIDI device, so the less code I have to adapt, the better). Turns out this was quite simple to do:
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Retronics USB Joystick Adapter and Other Coolness with V-USB

Retronics joystick adapter

There are a ton of cool gadgets available in eBay, and even though I sometimes do impulse buys, I rarely mention those in my blog. However, this extremely cool piece of retro tech is something I just cannot pass by without a comment: Retronic Design USB joystick adapter. It is essentially a joystick adapter for the popular 9-pin D-SUB connector used in many of the 80s consoles, most notably Atari, Commodore 64 and Amiga. On the outside, it’s not much to be excited about – USB connector on the one end, and grey dongle that accepts a joystick on the other. However, things quickly change when you open up the enclosure (click on the image for a large view):

Retronics USB adapter opened up

Inside the D-SUB end there is a very neat little piece of engineering, and many of my readers probably know how to program it — it isn’t anything other than a ATmega8A, a 8-bit AVR microcontroller that employs the same V-USB library I’ve covered in my tutorials to appear as a USB HID device on PC side.

All the components are on one side, and you have to admire the tiny ISP header the Retronic Design guys have fitted on the PCB. And wait, it doesn’t stop there. On the Retronic Design web site, they have full specifications for the device, and the download page includes both schematic, as well as full source code to the firmware.
Continue reading Retronics USB Joystick Adapter and Other Coolness with V-USB

Aladdin: USB password generator-inspired project at Indiegogo

I’ve been quite busy with work and had a few fully booked weekends, so no updates in a while. Well, it’s going to change now, as I have two more updates in the pipeline already! The first one is an interesting project that’ll surely interest those that have read my USB tutorials: Alvin Chang has started a USB password generator project at indiegogo!

Mr. Chang’s project is inspired my USB password generator hack, and builds upon the (GPL licensed) codebase it also used. Many people have expressed the desire to get the USB password generator as a ready-made device, so if you’re one of those, check out the project and decide yourself if you want to participate funding in the Aladdin key project:

Aladdin: The Key to Your Computer at indiegogo.com

Note: I’m associated with the project only via the DIY password generator hack that the project is partly based on (basic hardware design and source code).

USB password generator PCB

The most popular project of all time at Code and Life has been my DIY USB password generator. When I made it, I used a piece of veroboard that just fit inside a USB memory stick enclosure. Well, guess what: Benjamin Lunt just recently designed a custom PCB for it! I’ve been exchanging e-mails with him (Ben has written a book on USB, another very popular topic also in my blog) and he was kind enough to ship me one of these neat boards. Here’s what it looked like:

In addition to a nice USB connector footprint, this design also has a green power LED and a red transmission LED (which needs a small firmware change). Once assembled, the thing is really tiny, and it does work great. Thanks a lot for Mr. Lunt for designing this one! Be sure to visit his blog, as he’s interested if anyone would also like to have one (I know I did :). Maybe he’ll even publish the design files if someone wants to tinker with it (of course making your own isn’t too hard either).

On the right you can see what mine looked after some soldering (click for a larger image) – I love the fact that small resistors from Partco all had different base color for different values… I had to compromise a bit and use 48 ohm resistors instead of 58, and 4k7 instead of 2k2. For the LEDs, I used 480 ohms.

USB HID keyboard with V-USB

There still seems to be a lot of traffic to my V-USB tutorials, so I thought I’d write a short follow-up post on USB keyboards. I already did a USB HID mouse post earlier, so you might want to check that out to understand a bit about HID descriptors and associated V-USB settings (in short, human interface devices send a binary descriptor to PC telling what kind of “reports” they send to the host on user activities).

As a basic setup, you’ll need a working V-USB circuit with one switch and one LED attached. Here, I’m using ATtiny2313 with the LED wired to PB0 and switch to PB1. The ATtiny is using 20 MHz crystal, so if you’re following my USB tutorial series and have that circuit at hand, remember to change that frequency in usbconfig.c before trying this out. Note the cool breadboard header I have, there will be more posts about that one to follow soon!
Continue reading USB HID keyboard with V-USB

DIY USB password generator

Having done half a dozen V-USB tutorials I decided it’s time to whip up something cool. As USB keyboards were an area untouched, I decided to make a small USB HID keyboard device that types a password stored in EEPROM every time it’s attached. A new password can be generated just by tabbing CAPS LOCK a few times (4 times to start password regeneration and one tab for each password character generated, 10 is the default password length). Below you can see the device in action:

The place I work at requires me to change my password every few months so this would be one way to skip remembering a new password altogether (as long as I remember to write it down before regenerating a new one so password can be changed :).

What is inside?

The device is powered with a simplified version of the hardware I used in my ATtiny85 USB tutorial – I stripped away the LCD, reset pullup and both capacitors. If you’re better in cramming components inside enclosures I suggest adding at least a 0.1 uF capacitor between VCC and GND, but it seems to work fine even without it:

Continue reading DIY USB password generator

V-USB: Outputting Data with usbFunctionRead()

I promised to commenter Marek to post an example of using usbFunctionRead() to return larger amounts of data. So building upon the ATtiny85 version we made in last part, let’s add one more command to usbtest.exe:

#define USB_DATA_LONGOUT 5

// [...] Change the buffer size in main():
    char buffer[2048];

// [...] Add the following in the if-else structure in main():

    } else if(strcmp(argv[1], "longout") == 0) {
        nBytes = usb_control_msg(handle, 
            USB_TYPE_VENDOR | USB_RECIP_DEVICE | USB_ENDPOINT_IN, 
            USB_DATA_LONGOUT, 0, 0, (char *)buffer, sizeof(buffer), 5000);
        printf("Received %d bytes: %sn", nBytes, buffer);
    }

Now let’s tell V-USB that we’re implementing usbFunctionRead() and doing transfers of more than 254 bytes in usbconfig.h:
Continue reading V-USB: Outputting Data with usbFunctionRead()

V-USB with ATtiny45 / ATtiny85 without a crystal

One guy at Hack a Day remarked on the long wire runs in my V-USB tutorial breadboard setup. So I thought I’d build upon the part 4 of the tutorial but modify the setup a bit to run the AVR at 5 volts and use zener diodes to drop D+/D- voltage, thus eliminating the need for a regulator. And why not stop there. ATtiny45 and ATtiny85 are smaller than ATtiny2313 and have an internal oscillator that can be calibrated to provide 16.5 MHz clock, accurate enough for V-USB to do its magic. I challenge anyone to drastically shorten these wire runs!

In the photo, I used a 4-pin header to show the place of the USB cable so the zener diodes would not get obstructed. Note that due to the angle it can seem like the 0.1 uF tantalum cap (light brown one) is wired to PB4 when it really is going to GND pin! Here’s the schematic, heavily borrowed from V-USB’s EasyLogger reference implementation:
Continue reading V-USB with ATtiny45 / ATtiny85 without a crystal

V-USB tutorial continued: HID mouse

Wow, my AVR ATtiny USB tutorial here I got featured in Hack a Day! Motivated by the influx of readers, I decided to find out how to make a USB HID (human interface device) mouse.

V-USB examples already contain an example of this, so I digged in to see what is different in usbconfig.h compared to the one we finished in my tutorial. It seems only a few things need changing:

  1. USB_CFG_HAVE_INTRIN_ENDPOINT needs to be set to have an additional endpoint
  2. USB_CFG_INTR_POLL_INTERVAL set to 100 ms instead of 10 in template
  3. USB_CFG_IMPLEMENT_FN_WRITE is not needed, nor is …FN_READ (define both to 0)
  4. Device ID and name need to be changed. I’ll just use the same ID as they did
  5. USB_CFG_DEVICE_CLASS is set to 0, not 0xff
  6. USB_CFG_INTERFACE_CLASS set to 3 instead of 0
  7. USB_CFG_HID_REPORT_DESCRIPTOR_LENGTH defined to match the structure’s length

That’s it! So here are the defines I changed:

#define USB_CFG_HAVE_INTRIN_ENDPOINT    1
#define USB_CFG_INTR_POLL_INTERVAL      100
#define USB_CFG_IMPLEMENT_FN_WRITE      0
#define USB_CFG_IMPLEMENT_FN_READ       0
#define USB_CFG_DEVICE_ID               0xe8, 0x03
#define USB_CFG_DEVICE_NAME     'M', 'o', 'u', 's', 'e'
#define USB_CFG_DEVICE_NAME_LEN 5
#define USB_CFG_DEVICE_CLASS        0
#define USB_CFG_INTERFACE_CLASS     3
#define USB_CFG_HID_REPORT_DESCRIPTOR_LENGTH    52

OK. So what about main.c? Turns out the changes are rather straightforward:
Continue reading V-USB tutorial continued: HID mouse

AVR ATtiny USB Tutorial Part 4

All right. Now that we got the basic USB code working in part 3, it’s time to wrap things up in this tutorial series. This fourth section will explain how to send data from your device to PC and also the other way around. I may later do a fifth part on how to make a USB HID device like a keyboard or mouse, so if you haven’t already, I’d recommend subscribing to the RSS feed to get updates.

Sending data from device to PC

If you look carefully at our command-line client code, you probably noticed that the control messages sent to toggle the led are of type USB_ENDPOINT_IN and we have a 256-byte buffer in place to receive any data the device sends. So far we have not received any data and the return value stored in nBytes has been zero. Let’s change that.
Continue reading AVR ATtiny USB Tutorial Part 4