Nerdclub @ Atmel Norway 2008

Af: Simon Loell\r\n\r\nJune 6th 2008\r\n\r\nWOW what a trip!\r\n\r\nOur nerdclub counting 8 persons with our bi-weekly Thursdays meeting was arranged as a trip to Trondheim in Norway at the AVR Design Center, also known as the “Mekka” for AVR Freaks.\r\n\r\nWe started our trip Thursday morning from Aalborg in Denmark and drove in 2 cars to Copenhagen airport. Due to our nerd genes, we brought walkie talkies to have contact between the two cars for the 4½ hours drive.\r\n\r\n\r\nMy car was furthermore equipped with a 400W DC-AC inverter, so we could plug in our PCs on the way.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nAnd also a wireless router if some of the nerds with their laptops had the urge to share files on our way.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nThis was a feature Nils and Nikolaj enjoyed a lot.\r\nNils was in the middle of doing a layout in Eagle and Nikolaj was cleaning up his code for the water level gauge project. Asger made an update of his WinAVR version.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\nFinally arriving at the airport we got some lunch and headed towards check-in.\r\nWe had lots of trouble with SAS with this travel, but eventually we made it to Norway.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nOn arrival in Trondheim we headed for the hustle we were going to stay at the next two days.\r\n\r\n\r\nIt was late afternoon, the sun was shining and the temperature was above 20 degrees. Perfect summer and perfect for a walk in Trondheim city. We were all very hungry and since the tradition is pizza for dinner on our nerdclub evenings, this was ordered.\r\nWe all knew that food is not the cheapest thing in Norway, but paying 48$ for a 2-person pizza was a surprise.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nAfter walking around for a couple of hours, enjoying the weather, each others company and talking a lot about electronics and doing some babe spotting we headed to our rooms.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nNext morning I was already awake before my alarm started. I woke several times during the night. If it was because of Thomas snoring or because I was so exited on what would come I don’t know.\r\n\r\nAfter having finished our breakfast Atmel had arranged pick-up at our hustle 8.30 in the morning. A taxi arrived and soon we were on our way to the ultimate nerd visit which we had been looking forward to the last 2 month!\r\nAs we were closing in on the address the butterflies in my stomach didn’t get fewer. It was like Christmas when being a child. Only know we were 8 adult boys with an average age of 31!\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nFinally inside THE HOUSE. We stormed up the stairs to 3rd floor and met a sweet and very polite receptionist. Unfortunately none of us caught her name.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nShe called Andreas, an Atmel employee, whom we have had several e-mail chats with. He welcomed us all, and must have amused himself to see so many enthusiast gathered. He followed us to a meeting room where 8 laptops was already setup close to a projector. The room was suited for approx 40 persons so we didn’t fill much. It made us feel like VIP guests, and over the day, this feeling was to be even more confirmed.\r\n\r\nAndreas gave us a short presentation of their product, the organization and the design centre as a working place.\r\n\r\nHere we sat 8 “students” and ate each and every piece of information which was given to us, Awesome!\r\n\r\nAfter the introduction another Atmel guy arrived (Dag Vegar) . He unpacked 8 STK600 boards with a TQPF100 pins top socket board a JTAG ICEmkII and a brand new xmega128A1. We were going to have an xmega hands-on training. I was on cloud number nine. I’ve been looking at this uC for a while now, but a sample for hobbyists like me, even with good connections has been impossible. We were told that only Intel had had this training, and they did not get any samples – we got to keep our sample of the xmega. That was somewhat of a special treatment.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nPlaying with the new STK600, the xmega and for some also the JTAG ICE mkII was truly an experience. The hands-on training was very informative and introduced some of the nice features of the xmega in a easy way. Even Henrik who doesn’t write C software was able to get the tutorial to work.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nAfter the training and questions Alf-Egil who was one of our contact persons showed us around in the Atmel development building. We got to talk to some developers, one who developed software on the AVR32AP7 on a STK1000 board,\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\none who worked on environmental tests, and one who did the chip layout for an xmega. This guy (Per-Olav) also told us about the wafers and showed us the old AT90S8515 wafer.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nThat was a piece of AVR nerd history. We got to see the lab where chip wafers tests are made, and how they optimize and measure their design. For sure it’s not the equipment you get to see every day.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nAfter the guided tour we went for lunch in the canteen. We were a bit late and therefore we had it all by us selfs. The receptionist joined us, and as we ate our lunch she did a minor interview. In the middle of our interview Mr. God Alf-Egil Bogen (One of the AVR inventors) joined us. We had a short chat, but due to a meeting he had to leave early. He did however promise to stop by later in the afternoon.\r\n\r\nAfter lunch we went back to our training room. We were going to make another hands-on training. This time it was the AT32UC3A processor. Once again we were being treated as VIPs. Sondre who introduced us to the chip gave each one of us a UC3 uC top board for use with the STK600. This too was brand new. Actually it was so new, that even the newest AVR Studio and STK600 firmware did not support it. But Sondre who does the daily development had an updated file.\r\n\r\nSince time was running a bit short the training wa s speeded up a bit. But we got introduction to the AVR32 Studio, Eclipse IDE and for most of us, even got the USB mouse application to run. The UC3 is a bit more advanced than xmega and far more advanced than the mega or tiny series. But now that I have the board, there is no doubt I will try to port some of my code to run on this platform. Especially color display applications which needs high clock rate, SPI and DMA is perfect suited for this purpose.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nIt was late afternoon and the program planned by Atmel was soon over, but even though Alf-Egil Bogen has had a meeting he still found time to give us a complete slide show with the history of AVR. It was very interesting to hear about. Even though we are Danish and he is Norwegian we were able to understand each other. And to hear about the history in the native language, in the birth town was just as good as it could get. We asked questions and listens carefully. Alf-Egil Bogen was a very pleasant and open minded person, who really lives for this project. His enthusiasm is reflected in the way he tells the story. Actually this enthusiasm is all over the atmosphere in the building.\r\n\r\nWe got a group picture and I got to talk to Eivind from AVRTV.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nAs we shut down the laptops Sondre told us that we got to keep the STK600 board, TQPF100 top board, UC3A top board and the xmega128A1 sample. And if that wasn’t enough they also gave us some merchandise: AVR USB stick, AVR cup, AVR Man! and an AVR t-shirt.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nWe all went home with a BIG smile on our faces and with a nerd dream coming true, it was worth each and every penny.\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nThe following Monday I already put on my clothes, but as I was about to leave for work I quickly changed to my brand new AVR T-shirt. One of the nerdclub members: Nikolaj, also works in the same company, and had the same idea. I’ll bet the other nerdclub members also wear their t-shirts.\r\n\r\n\r\nTo Atmel team I would like to thank you all very much for making this visit possible. If you ever come to Denmark, please let us know. I’ll guarantee you can be a member of the nerdclub right away!\r\n\r\nAnd to nerdclub members who was on the trip:\r\n\r\n\r\n\r\n \r\n\r\nChristian, Thomas, Nils, Nikolaj, Asger, Henrik and Jesper see you again Thursday June 19th at Nikolaj.\r\n\r\nI’ll bet we have a lot to talk about and also to play with!\r\n\r\nBest regards\r\nSimon




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