Tag Archives: ATTINY85



Working prototype PCB .

Upon experiencing a few break-ins on the farm I decided to look for a simple alarm system to monitor certain door. For such a simple project a full on alarm commercial alarm system would be overkill.. So I endeavored on the short and fruitful DIY journey.

My system is based on the simple circuit from Great Scott on YouTube. The brains of the circuit is the Arduino programmable Attiny85 MCU. A reset push button, notification LED, arm/disarm toggle switch, notification buzzer and magnetic read switch are the IN/OUT components used.

The project runs on 12 volts (12 volts for the siren) which is filtered down to 5 volts for the Attiny85. My plan is to use a 12 volts 7 ampere lead acid battery combined with a smart charge board to power the project effectively.

After soldering the components onto the board everything worked fine. However the siren was very soft and the 2N2222A transistor was getting extremely hot. This is because the transistor has to provide a ton of current to the siren in order to get it working at 100% capacity. A quick fix is to remove the 1k resistor between Attiny85 pin 1 and the transistors base.(replace it with normal wire) This allows the siren to be louder but the transistor is still hot. A possible permanent solution will be to just use a 5v relay or look for a transistor with a higher current tolerance.

In the end I decided to go with a 5v relay module since it’s a quick reliable solution but is more expensive than a transistor. In a future upgrade I will most likely use a BC517 darlington as referenced by this article. It will be cheaper than a relay and provides more than enough current for a 15W 1 tone siren (380ma).




A quick solder up to test the circuit (had issues with power sharing between GSM module and ATTINY85)

My first attempt to build a small circuit which controls a relay to an alarm speaker was a failure. Contrary to popular belief failure in electronics projects is quite common and I would argue that it is of paramount need if you want to learn anything.

Surprisingly my failure was in using the ATTINY85 instead a Pro Mini, Uno or Mega. Some problems I had were:

  • Not enough RAM to hold all my variables (I had to scrounge 😢)
  • Very limited FLASH memory.
  • GSM module interferes with the ATTINY’s 5v power source when connected using the same source with no filtering.

In a later project I created a reliably working solution with the Pro Mini as the brains.

My goal was to create a small circuit which uses the ATTINY85 as the brains. It uses the A6-GSM-Module to receive SMS’s, phone calls and sends TCP data. Finally it has a 5v relay which will switch on/off an alarm speaker. The theory is that when I’m on the farm in the fields and not near the house, I have the option of remotely starting an audio alarm at will. This should be a deterrent to potential criminals.

I made an easier to debug testing circuit with exposed copper traces (Same issues)

After making an easier to debug circuit I tried to get the ATTINY85 to work happily with the GSM module. This was going to be a bit complicated and I suspect I would have to isolate power between the ATTINY85 and the GSM module. This would require more components and the board is already looking cramped. A much easier solution is to use the Pro Mini instead of the ATTINY85.

The Pro Mini is most certainly a beauty.



The Digispark rev3 USB board is an ATtiny85 based microcontroller development board. It comes with a USB interface. Coding is similar to Arduino, and it makes use of the familiar Arduino IDE for development.


  • Support Arduino IDE 1.0+ (OSX/Win/Linux)
  • Can be powered by USB or 5v or 7-15v (automatic matching) extra power supply
  • There is a 500ma 5V regulator on the motherboard.
  • USB embedding (serial debugging)
  • 6 I/O Pins (2 for USB support)
  • 8k Flash Memory (about 6k after bootloader)
  • I2C and SPI (vis USI)
  • PWM on 3 pins (more possible with Software PWM)
  • ADC on 4 pins
  • Power LED and Test/Status LED (in Pin0)

The smallest USB Arduino

PDF Manual



Sometimes an Arduino pro mini is just not small enough for an electronics project. Enter the Arduino ATTINY85, this MCU comes in an extremely small package. It has only 8 pins and works with 5v.

Below are the specs of this microcontroller:

  • Controller Family/Series:AVR Tiny
  • Core Size:8bit
  • No. of I/O’s:6
  • Program Memory Size:8KB
  • EEPROM Memory Size:512Byte
  • RAM Memory Size:512Byte
  • CPU Speed: 8/16 MHz internal clock, up to 20MHz external clock
  • No. of Timers:2
  • Peripherals:ADC, Comparator
  • No. of PWM Channels:4
  • Digital IC Case Style:DIP
  • Supply Voltage Range:2.7V to 5.5V
  • Operating Temperature Range:-40°C to +85°C
  • No. of Pins:8

This is great and all but its a hassle to program the board unless you buy a dedicated programmer (expensive in SA) or if you’re happy to use a messy breadboard every time you want to program. So I decided to make a very crude but effective programming shield for my Arduino UNO.