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Building prototype gadget - would appreciate advice :)

Discussion in 'Microcontrollers, Programming and IoT' started by Seth, May 24, 2013.

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  1. Seth

    Seth

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    May 24, 2013
    Hi all,

    I'm new to this forum and microprocessors in general. I'm hoping to build a gadget which can transfer small amounts of information via infrared. However, I only know a little about electronics and have no clue about microprocessors and how they are different to normal processors.

    I need a program to execute one program which simultaneously transmits and receives a few kB of data (read from flash memory) from another device of the same nature. So I'm asking what microprocessor and IR transmitter/receiver would be suitable? Bear in mind that I'm working on a budget so the cheapest and most low-power processor is best.

    I have experience programming Arduinos but I have no idea how to program microprocessors. Is there a simulation so I can test without slowing down prototype production?

    Thanks

    Seth
     
  2. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

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    Jan 21, 2010
    An Arduino is a microcontroller with a few extra bits.

    If you've programmed one, you've programmed a microcontroller.

    A microprocessor is technically the thing you find inside a PC. They typically need a lot more to make them useful (RAM, ROM, periperal support, etc.)

    You probably want a microcontroller.
     
  3. Seth

    Seth

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    May 24, 2013
    Ah, I knew that I wanted a microprocessor as part of an embedded system, but I'm not sure which specific microprocessor to get.
     
  4. KrisBlueNZ

    KrisBlueNZ Sadly passed away in 2015

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    Broadly, microcontrollers are single-chip devices (at least nowadays they are), with all or most resources in a single device. This means no expandability, limited RAM and ROM, a variety of peripherals built-in, and usually a user interface consisting of buttons and a small display or indicators. Microprocessors are just the core of a larger system that typically includes external expandable RAM, modular peripherals of all kinds, generally much higher speed and power consumption, large storage devices, and usually a versatile user interface.

    Your best approach is to figure out what you need in terms of high-level language support, power (speed and resources such as RAM and ROM), and peripherals. From your brief description of what you want to do, I would say that a microcontroller is most appropriate. If you give a more detailed description of your project we will be able to be more specific.
     
    Last edited: May 25, 2013
  5. Seth

    Seth

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    May 24, 2013
    Thank you for your time and patience in helping me, I understand physics extremely well but am fairly new to electronic devices :)

    The code in the device will allow data to be sent to a similar device via IR, and data received simultaneously. This data should be able to be modified by connecting the gadget to a computer via mini USB port. Also, whilst transmitting, some LED lights will act as an indicator (ready, transmitting, complete). A button on the outside of the gadget is requires to start the script and loop it for a few seconds.

    Said data is very light and should not be more than a few KB, but it does need to be edited so the memory will have to be rewritable. I am planning to code an interface so data can be edited whilst connected to computer via mini USB, I think C should be sufficient but if you have any suggestions as to which language is easiest to write an IR protocol and interface for than I would be more than happy. Data received via IR also has to be written to flash memory and be erasable. I estimate total data at a couple of MB depending on the size of the interface.

    As for power, you can tell that this process isn't very intensive. I would say that power saving is the better option and also I am taking price into consideration as I am planning to make a few of these.

    Thank you very much :)
     
  6. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

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    Jan 21, 2010
    If it's going to connect to a USB port, you may as well use the computer's processor to do all the hard work.

    You could probably pull the guts out of a USB to parallel cable and then bit-bang it to flash LEDs connected to the data pins.
     
  7. Seth

    Seth

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    May 24, 2013
    Yeah, but the device has to be portable so a microcontroller is still needed. Connection to computer is only to store received information and edit data.
     
  8. mheee09

    mheee09

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    Jun 1, 2013
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