Make: AVR Programming released this week

Make: AVR Programming

Way back in February/March of 2011, The Late Elliot Williams (TLEW)Δ taught a 6-session AVR Microcontroller Class that introduced hardware programming beyond Arduino to an eager roomful of wannabe bare-metal programmers.

Elliot‘s hard work on that course and it’s 2009 iteration formed the germ for the shiny new 472-page Make: AVR Programming Learning to Write Software for Hardware, released this week by Maker Media, Inc.:

Atmel’s AVR microcontrollers are the chips that power Arduino, and are the go-to chip for many hobbyist and hardware hacking projects. In this book you’ll set aside the layers of abstraction provided by the Arduino environment and learn how to program AVR microcontrollers directly. In doing so, you’ll get closer to the chip and you’ll be able to squeeze more power and features out of it.

We’re big fans of the Arduino but sometimes our projects demand smaller size, less power consumption, more control, faster processing, and/or MOAR CHIPS! (You can buy almost 10 of Atmel’s ATmega328 AVR chips for the average price of one Arduino.)

Photo of HacDC's 2011 AVR Class Project PCB Kit (assembled) ©2011 Elliot Williams

For the 2011 class, TLEW designed a(n awesome) custom PCB to illustrate major topics. [2011 AVR Kit wiki page.]

Δ Elliot is alive and well. However, he’s dead to us, mostly because after he left DC it was decreed that we would forevermore immaturely express our separation anxiety by referring to him only as “The Late Elliot Williams”.

Project Byzantium ported to the Raspberry Pi!

Project Byzantium logoThe dev team for HacDC’s awesome, incubated Project Byzantium (PB) has ported their “ad-hoc mesh networking for the zombie apocalypse” platform to the Raspberry Pi. As the 1st milestone of their recent ISC grant award, they’ve started a parallel repository for ByzPi, their PB port for ARM, currently for Raspbian:

We opted to use Raspbian because it seems to be the more popular of the two [commonly installed Raspberry Pi Linux distributions]. Also, the packaging process for Debian was better understood than that for Arch Linux by the Project Byzantium team. We’re in a rapid development cycle so we wanted to hit the ground running and accomplish as much as possible in the available time before the first milestone.

Congratulations to The Doctor, Ben the Pyrate, and haxwithaxe!

aaronsw Memorial Hackathon

On Saturday, February 2, 2013 from 11am – 11pm (planned) HacDC will be hosting one of many, self-organized, global hackathons to memorialize the late computer programmer, writer, political organizer, and Internet activist Aaron Swartz (November 8, 1986 – January 11, 2013) (Wikipedia article)

Participants will be asked to advance solutions to issues that were near to Aaron’s heart.

Activities for the day will center on furthering work on his repositories, opening access to information belonging in the public domain, developing or contributing to countermeasures to Internet censorship, and exploring code-driven methods to enhance social justice through access to data.

Among the like-minded participating groups will figure HacDC’s resident Project Byzantium and the organizer and team from the District Commons project.

Those interested in participating should register via our MeetUp event.

Those wanting to arrive after 2pm should make note of our telephone number, 202-556-4225, to gain entry as the building will be locked. More location information on our homepage’s sidebar.

Participants are encouraged to bring food and drink and practice good neighborliness. There are a variety of carry out options available around Columbia Heights though some may suit individuals more than others. There may be a group purchase at some point(s) but nothing has been set as of this writing. We’ll update this post as needed.

Related: An event taking place on Capitol Hill, on Monday, 2/4/13, at 7pm, this event memorializes Aaron Swartz and seeks to raise awareness about the urgent changes that are needed in the CFAA. These changes are part of Rep. Zoe Lofgren’s draft “Aaron’s Law” (PDF here).

HacDC mentioned in Shimon Schocken’s TEDtalk


During 2012, HacDC hosted a regular study group following Shocken & Nisan’s “The Elements of Computing Systems: Building a Modern Computer from First Principles.” In October, Shocken gave a TEDtalk about open learning in which he mentions HacDC (beginning at 7’52”).

The TEDtalk description for “The self-organizing computer course,” describes Shocken’s experiment in open learning:

“Shimon Schocken and Noam Nisan developed a curriculum for their students to build a computer, piece by piece. When they put the course online — giving away the tools, simulators, chip specifications and other building blocks — they were surprised that thousands jumped at the opportunity to learn, working independently as well as organizing their own classes in the first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC). A call to forget about grades and tap into the self-motivation to learn…”