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Hands-on with the TinyDuino and TinyLily Systems from TinyCircuits

By: Charles Gantt | Editorials in Maker & DIY | Posted: Feb 12, 2014 8:33 am



Before I move on to the other TinyShields I received, let's take a moment to look at the other MCU board that TinyCircuits makes. The TinyLily is designed for use in e-Textiles, and is actually built to be gently washed by hand when the garment it is sewn into needs cleaning. All switches, buzzers, LEDs, and motor controllers have been designed with special components to ensure wash-ability.


Smaller than a U.S. dime, the TinyLily is also Arduino compatible, and like the TinyDuino, is based on the ATmega328P. Unlike the TinyDuino, the Tiny Lily features 8 I/O lines broken out on board as well as four Power Sewtabs that are designed to be sewn through to provide power and Ground functionality via conductive thread. The TinyLily is also +5V-based, and features no on-board voltage regulator, so anything over 5.5V will damage the board.


TinyLily Features and Specifications


  • Arduino and LilyPad Compatible
  • Washable
  • Robust Gold Finish - makes soldering easy and is non-corrosive
  • Ultra compact size and weight (smaller than a US Dime!)
    • Circular Version: 14.0mm (0.55 inch) diameter
    • Max Height: 2.8mm (0.11 inches)
    • Ultra-thin 0.61mm (0.024 inches) PCB
    • Weight: TBD grams (TBD ounces)

  • Atmel ATmega328P Microcontroller
    • 32KB Flash, 2KB RAM, 1KB EEPROM
    • 1.2mA (typical) @ 3V, 4MHz
    • Default Clock speed: 8MHz

  • 2.7V - 5.5V operating voltage (Arduino mode)
  • 1.8V - 5.5V operating voltage (with custom fw)
  • Sewtabs for 8 I/O (4 Digital, 4 Analog / Digital) and 4 Power Sewtabs (2 for power, 2 for ground)
  • Sewtabs are 1.2mm in diameter, easy to use with standard conductive thread and needles
  • Arduino Bootloader preprogrammed (uses approx 0.5 KBytes of Flash Memory)
  • USB expansion header (for use with the TinyLily Mini USB Board)


Much like the TinyDuino, programming the board is accomplished by using a stand-alone FTDI-based USB break-out board called the TinyLily Mini USB Board. The board features all of the same features of the TinyShield USB & ICP, except that it connects to the TinyLily differently than the TinyDuino system.


The TinyLily features a 5-pin right angle header connector that mates up with a female 5-pin connector on the TinyLily Mini USB Board. Programming is done through the Arduino IDE, and utilizes the FTDI drivers used in pre-Arduino Uno R3 versions of the Arduino IDE. Installing them is simple, and the drivers can be downloaded from here.




The TinyLily line includes several LED modules in both 0402 and 1206 sizes, as well as a 3MM switch module. A module called the TinyLily Battery Adapter provides a JST-PH connector breakout for connecting Li-Ion, or other batteries to provide power. This board connects to the 5-pin male header connector on the TinyLily. Finally, the TinyLily line features a 1.8-amp DC motor driver board that is based on the TI DRV8837 H-Bridge Motor Driver, the world's smallest motor driver chip at 2mm square.


The board is capable of driving a 5V 1.8-amp DC motor with no additional cooling hardware needed (if run at 5V per channel) thanks to a large ground plane on the back of the board. The TinyLily Motor Board features on-board bypass capacitors, and has all of its I/O lines broken out to the Sewtabs surrounding the chip. It operates on a motor power-supply voltage from 1.8 V to 11 V, and a device power-supply voltage of 1.8 V to 7 V. There is also an extremely low power sleep mode, with 120nA sleep current built into the chip.

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