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Purchase microcontroller dev. kit

Discussion in 'Electronic Design' started by [email protected], Sep 25, 2006.

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  1. Guest

    Hi all,

    I am new to this and i hope to purchase a development kit for dev.
    microcontrollers. Due to the numerous varieties available in the
    market, i am lost as where i should start and what stuffs to look out
    for when purchasing these kits.

  2. mkaras

    mkaras Guest

    There are many kits because there are many different types of
    microcontrollers from a multitude of manufacturers. The intended
    application, your current expertise, and some other factors such as how
    you want to craft the additional circuitry that you may want to add to
    the DEV board will determine what you end up purchasing.

    I happen to recommend the Dev Kits that you can get from SiLabs. These
    are low cost, come with super nice code debug support and include a CD
    with a OEM version of the Keil 8051 tool set that lets you make small
    test and experiment programs without having to also first buy an
    expensive tool set. You can see some applications ideas around using
    these kits at:


    - mkaras
  3. Nico Coesel

    Nico Coesel Guest

    Whatever you buy, make sure the microcontroller has one addressing
    space (no 8051, no AVR, no PIC) if you want to keep your code
    portable. You wouldn't be the first developer who has found the
    platform that looked so promising in the past turns out to be a
  4. Guest

    No 8051, no AVR, no PIC? What *would* you recommend, then? ;-)

    I'm in a similar boat as the OP. I've found, though, that there seem
    to be a LOT of books on PIC development, and not all that many on the
    AVR. (Even my local Borders Bookstore had no fewer than 4 books on PIC
    projects, PIC robotics, etc.)

  5. Nico Coesel

    Nico Coesel Guest

    Hitachi/Renesas H8 / H8S, Texas Instruments MSP430, Analog Devices
    Blackfin DSP.
  6. Donald

    Donald Guest

    Oh crap, now you did IT !!!

    The religous war about my CPU is better than your CPU is going to start.

    Please just purchase a working board and start
    playing with it. After a while ( days, weeks, months, depends on your
    time) you will get to know one cpu and all the others are "just the
    same" as far as development is concerned.

    They all have quirks, they all require time to understand.

    If there is a user group in your area, find it and you will also find
    help in getting what you want running.

    There is NO best processor, this is too small or too large, but you will
    learn this for yourself.

    Good Luck and let us know what you found.

  7. Nico Coesel

    Nico Coesel Guest

    No not at all. Look at the big picture here. Its not the CPU that
    matters, its where you want to go in the future that matters!

    A choice for a CPU should be driven by the question: "What if I want
    to move to a different platform". With some platforms the answer to
    this question is: "throw away everything you wrote and start over". So
    a choice for a platform should be made with great care.
    That's exactly why I listed a general purpose microcontroller series,
    a micropower series and a full blown 300+ MHz 32 bit DSP with MMU
    capable of running a genuine OS like Linux. However, generic C code
    written for one, can be moved to the other.
  8. linnix

    linnix Guest

    Yeap, as usual.
    If you take this approach, you would never do anything. There is
    always something better coming up. May I ask how many actual designs
    have you done?
    Why do you think the OP needs a 32 bits DSP? Well written C codes
    should not have much problem moving between 8051, PIC or AVR.
  9. Guest

    Aye. And what about those 4-bit PIC chips. Really cheap. Don't need
    a 32 bit DSP for running a toaster...

  10. Gee that's stange, how on earth have I moved C code almost seamlessly
    from a PIC to an AVR to a Rabbit then?

    You can't be serious suggesting that a beginner think about the "big
    picture" and choose some oddball processor based on some perceived
    future requirement, that is crazy.
    A beginner needs something that is common beginner platform so that
    they can get tons of support, sample code, books and other beginner
    level stuff etc That basically means PIC or AVR these days, that's
    where the action is.
    I'd suggest the OP start on the PICAXE, it is the easiest introduction
    possible. Work up from there.

    Dave :)
  11. Nico Coesel

    Nico Coesel Guest

    Countless with a delivery date set to yesterday.
    Funny to see how '32 bit DSP' works like a red flag on a bull on some
    people. Take a deep breath and read again. The range of controllers I
    suggested goes from less than 16 pins to over 256 pins.
  12. linnix

    linnix Guest

    Nothing wrong with those you suggested. But 8051, PIC and AVR are
    still in many microcontroller designs, which you are telling people to
  13. Tim Auton

    Tim Auton Guest

    Yeah; cost, availability, capability, power consumption, quality and
    availability of tools, vendor support and all the other considerations
    aren't even worth thinking about.
    Other than strings and lookup tables stored in program space, virtually
    all my non-hardware-related AVR code is portable. It's just C. Changing
    those parts isn't hard and, importantly, doesn't significantly alter the
    logic. I can't see myself needing to throw much away if I change

  14. Guest

    Questions for ya (from a newbie):

    Is the C compiler for the PICs free?

    What about for Atmel's chips?

  15. Tim Auton

    Tim Auton Guest

    There's a limited version of the PICC compiler available for free. It
    only supports some PICs and it's limited to 2K of program memory, which
    isn't a lot. There may be other options I don't know about.
    You can use gcc, which is free and available for just about any
    platform. It has no artificial restrictions. gcc and a bunch of other
    tools are all packaged together for Windows and released as "WinAVR".
    Atmel also supply a AVRStudio - an IDE, assembler and simulator for
    Windows, for free. AVRStudio works with WinAVR, so you can use it for C
    as well as assembler.

  16. Joel Kolstad

    Joel Kolstad Guest

    Hmm... maybe PICs are a good place to start so that one can be pleasantly
    surprised when they find something better like an AVR? :)
  17. Guest

    That brings me to a question I've always meant to ask, but always
    forgot to ask.

    Can anyone recommend any good books for a beginner to learn Atmel's
    chips? (big cheesy grin)

    Also... is AVR the current state of the art? What about all those
    ATxxxxxxx chips... are they obsolete, or just different...?


  18. The 18series C compiler from Microchip is essentially free now. It only
    has some minor limitations about code optimisation which you won't have
    to worry about.

    The HI-TECH PIC-Clite compiler is free but only supports a limited
    number of PICs
    There is the GCC compiler, but really I would suggest a beginner stay
    away from it, you'll spend most of your time fighting the tool. No
    doubt many users will jump out in support of it though, but seriously
    it's not integrated and user friendly enough for a beginner.

    Beginners need something that works out of the box. There is nothing
    worse than writing your LED flasher code and nothing happens, and then
    you don't know if it's your code, a chip specific register you haven't
    enabled, oscillator options you got wrong, your programming tool chain,
    a fault in the download cable or wiring etc etc

    You could do a lot worse than starting with something like the PICAXE
    and work up from there.

    Dave :)
  19. Yuriy K.

    Yuriy K. Guest

    There is a danger of irreparable brain damage...
  20. Yuriy K.

    Yuriy K. Guest

    STK500 is a good starting point. AVR has a simple and straightforward
    architecture. Easy to program both in assembler and C.
    Free WinAVR GCC port. Lots of stuff @
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