Want to know more about Mignonette? Take a look at our frequently asked questions below.

1. Can I buy a Mignonette Game Kit?
Yes. Please click on the "purchase" link at the bottom of this page.

2. Where can I find you?
We introduced the Mignonette at Maker Faire 2008, which was held in San Mateo, CA (USA) on May 3 and 4, 2008. (see www.makerfaire.com) Since then, we have been involved in several other workshops and conferences.

Currently, we plan on being at the Maker Faire in Austin, TX coming up in October 2008.

3. Are there any prerequisites for the workshop?
Besides curiosity and enthusiasm, none at all!
We have taught well over a thousand people how to make cool things, including people of all ages and backgrounds, even people who’ve never sewn a button. You can successfully complete your Mignonette kit.

4. What is a microcontroller?
A microcontroller is a complete computer on a single chip. It can be programmed, much like a real computer. However, microcontrollers are much smaller than a real computer, in terms of the size of the program or the amount of memory. And the best part is they are much cheaper too! So, there is no mouse, keyboard, or disk drive. Instead, simple input and output simple devices, like switches, LEDs, or even a speaker, can be connected to a microcontroller. With one microcontroller and a handful of these simple devices, lots of really cool things are possible!

5. Can you tell me more about the Mignonette hardware?
Mignonette is an electronic kit. Anyone, even someone with no soldering experience, can assemble the kit in less than an afternoon. Most people can complete the kit in one to two hours. The design features a microcontroller, a 5x7 LED matrix, a small speaker, and a few other miscellaneous components (resistors and capacitors).

The microcontroller comes pre-programmed with a fun game we wrote called Munch. It also comes pre-programmed with a program to test the hardware.

One of the fun aspects of Mignonette is that you can program it with your own game! Starting from scratch, or starting with our Mignonette Game Library, you can develop your own program on a PC (or Mac or Linux) and then download into the Mignonette using a special adapter. Once programmed, it no longer needs to be connected to the PC. (Please see the question below about programming.)

6. Does the kit include all the parts I need?
Besides the tools needed for assembly (soldering iron, wire cutters, etc.), and 3 AA batteries to power the Mignonette, no additional parts are needed.

7. How do I download other games to the Mignonette?
The Mignonette kit comes pre-programmed with a test program and the Munch game. To re-program it, you will need a special adapter called a "programming dongle", or simply a "programmer". One end connects to a PC via a USB cable. The other end has a 6-pin connector which connects to the Mignonette (that connector is labeled J2).

Though any AVR programming dongle should work fine, there are two that we have tested with the Mignonette Game:
  • Atmel AVRISP mkII - pre-assembled, approximate cost US$34
  • Ladyada’s USBtinyISP - kit, approximate cost US$22
More information on the Atmel programmer is
It is available at mouser.com and digikey.com (and other distributors).

More information on the Ladyada programmer is here.
You can purchase it at adafruit.com.

To program an AVR microcontroller, you need to install software on your computer for the task. One of the nice things about working with AVR microcontrollers is that the necessary software is available for Windows, MacOS, and Linux.

For Windows, you use WinAVR, a software package where all you need to do is download it, double-click it, it installs, and it works. Step-by-step instructions are available on the Ladyada website: Ladyada's WinAVR instructions. There is a software package for MacOS that is almost as easy, formerly known as AVR MacPack, but now called CrossPack: CrossPack. To install the software on Linux takes some mucking around, but if you use Linux, you already know that (and you'll do fine). Step-by-step instructions are available on the Ladyada website: Ladyada's Ubuntu software instructions.

After hacking the Mignonette firmware to create your own games (or downloading another game from our website) you are ready to program it into your Mignonette Game. First, connect the programming dongle to both your computer and the Mignonette. Then turn on the power for the Mignonette. Now you can type the following command in a command or terminal window:
      make program
which will perform all of the necessary steps to program your Mignonette Game.

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