Cubicle Hero

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Package Types

Chips come in a few common packages, most of which we'll ignore because they require soldering or don't easily fit on a breadboard or protoboard.

Various Terminology

Common Packages

This is by no means a complete list. Avoiding soldering gives very few options. Full list here.

How to Read Pinouts

Pinouts contain pin numbers and descriptions or identifiers for each pin. It's necessary to delve further into the documentation for full descriptions and capabilities, as well as how to use each.

Pin numbers are consistent, starting from the "top-left" and continuing counter-clockwise around the package. Top-left depends on the package but is denoted by a small circle in the corner closest and, often, in DIPs, by a half-circle carved out of one side (the "top").

ATtiny showing pin order
Half-circle and engraved dot denoting pin 1.

Power and Grounds

Side note: the letter 'A' prefixing voltage supplies or grounds stands for analog. They should (usually) be connected and are used for analog-to-digital convertors and such so should be isolated from the main power supply to decrease noise (but should be the same voltages). When in doubt, RTFM.

Other Common Pin/Function Descriptors

These may be the entire description or just part of one, but these will give you a general idea of how to translate them. Also not a complete list, as pin naming isn't standardized.

Side note: while reading microcontroller datasheets, pins are a single lead and ports are collections of pins (usually 8).

Another quick side note: flat lines over a description denote that the pin is inverted, meaning that grounding it is a true, or "on", state.