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What's a good, clean, cheap MCU for a hobbyist?

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by Costas Vlachos, Sep 10, 2003.

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  1. A friend of mine is looking to get into MCU projects as a hobby. I'd say
    he's at an intermediate level in electronics (and has a Ph.D. in control
    systems!). He has used MCUs in the past, I think it was the Motorola
    68HCsomething. That was about 10 years ago, he hasn't touched electronics
    since then. What he's after is something with a *clean* architecture and
    affordable development tools (something under 100 Euros for a starter kit).

    I have very good knowledge of the PIC16 series, and although I think they're
    good MCUs, I'm worried that their messy architecture (memory paging, messy
    look-up tables, etc., etc.) may scare him off. Any recommendations? An 8051?
    An AVR? He told me of a cheap development kit he found, for something called
    DSP56F800. Is this a DSP/MCU hybrid?

    Any suggestions are appreciated (and apologies for starting yet another
    "what MCU" thread!).

    Thanks,
    Costas
     
  2. Rich Webb

    Rich Webb Guest

    In the 8-bitters, I really like the AVR architecture.

    ImageCraft has some nice starter kits in the 100-ish Euro range. Go to
    http://www.imagecraft.com/software/ and follow the Hardware link to AVR.
    AFAIK, the "Butterfly" hasn't shipped yet.

    Also in that same price range is Atmel's STK500 -- which has the
    advantage of being useable as a programmer for any of the AVR family.
    The disadvantage is a lack of a handy LCD display built in. On the other
    hand, it does have a "user side" serial port and RS232 drivers for it.
     
  3. onestone

    onestone Guest

    The 56F800 is a DSP with some microcontroller attributes. A bit power
    hungry, and not the best endowed peripherally, but quite a nice looking
    part, and the EVK was only around US$30 when I bought mine. Other than
    that I like the MSP430Fxxxx from Ti. Low power, good peripheral mix,
    flash based, built in JTAG for debugging, and US$99 for the tools.

    Al
     
  4. happyhobit

    happyhobit Guest

    If you want go on the cheep and can do a bit of soldering, I'm retired too,
    checkout the AVR.

    http://www.avrfreaks.net/index.php

    I've priced it out and he could get started for less than $15.00 USD, less
    if he has an electronics junk box.

    Jay
     
  5. onestone

    onestone Guest

    Oh I forgot to mention, the Olimex JTAG interface is only US$10,
    download the assembler, 4K limited free C compiler, IDE and debugger
    from Ti for free.

    Al
     


  6. Thanks Rich and everyone who replied. It seems the AVR is a good choice. I'm
    a PIC guy myself, used to the PIC architecture and like it. But it would be
    a good idea to try the AVR. Had a quick look at the data sheets, lots of
    nice 1- and 2-cycle instructions. The 17 and 18 series or PICs may be worth
    a look too.

    Thanks again people.

    Costas
     
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