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Which microcontroller to buy

Discussion in 'Misc Electronics' started by ColinT, Aug 1, 2005.

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  1. ColinT

    ColinT Guest

    Hi, I'm looking at buying a microcontroller and programmer for testing and
    learning with. I was wondering if anyone could suggest one that is a good
    balance of versatility and affordability. Thank you.
    Colin
     
  2. You get PIC microcontrollers starting at $3, and programmers for under
    $30, oder less if you solder them yourself. PICs are extremely bare
    bones in programming, but you get the developer software and tons of
    documentation off the Microchip wensite for free.

    Atmels are easier to write software for (no paging, etc.), but the
    documentation is said to be not as good.

    Everything 'bigger' gets a lot more expensive for programmers, developer
    environments, etc. .

    And in the end, all of them are very capable of outputting a digital
    signal on their pins ;-). (well, and analog input and output generally
    as well)
     
  3. -john

    -john Guest

    I find Atmel's AVR line to be quite afordable as well as fast and
    powerful. my 2c

    -john
     
  4. Guillaume

    Guillaume Guest

    Not quite so. You can use ARM-based uCs which are 32-bit, quite powerful
    and well documented. Programming is usually supported via JTAG (the
    interface can be easily built or bought for a few bucks), and the
    development tools are free (GCC for ARM is pretty fine).

    The LPC2106, for instance, costs about $20 a piece (ok, that's more
    expensive than most PICs or AVRs), has plenty of flash rom and ram and
    can run up to 60 MHz. Really something to think about. Of course, you'll
    need a real PCB (since they are not available as DIP packages)...
     
  5. Joe Soap

    Joe Soap Guest

    Think about TI MSP430 series. Development kits from e.g. Olimex - I got one
    on ebay for ~£35 + £9 for a parallel port interface gizmo - free GNU
    compiler and debugger.
     
  6. Oh, yeah, Pic, Atmel, a lot for under $5 a pop. Most of them
    programmable via JTAG, low voltage, etc. . Availability of DIP Ppackages
    is a big advantage if you want to stay bread boarding for a while or
    can't solder. TI's and ARM are also fine. But for the first few steps, I
    beleive that Pic and Atmel are even cheaper and have tons of sample code
    on the 'net.

    And gcc supports Atmel as well. Pic support is close to completion, so
    you can finally write a C++ program for 1024 words of paged memory :p
     
  7. E. Rosten

    E. Rosten Guest

    I found PICs very easy to get started with. Specifically, the PIC 16F877
    is a pretty good one. It has plenty of pins (ie plenty of IO ports to get
    going with), works happily in a breadboard, etc.

    The only problem with these is that they have a very small amount of paged
    memory (yuck). Other than that, programming them in assembly isn't too
    hard since they have a nice enough instruction set.

    -Ed



    --
    (You can't go wrong with psycho-rats.) (er258)(@)(eng.cam)(.ac.uk)

    /d{def}def/f{/Times findfont s scalefont setfont}d/s{10}d/r{roll}d f 5/m
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  8. BigJp

    BigJp Guest

    I think pic is the way to go for begginers, very simple and cheap. You
    can get a programmer from sparkfun electronics for $13. Here is a list
    of all the programmers they sell
    http://www.sparkfun.com/shop/index.php?shop=1&cat=3

    Whatever you do dont buy the picstart+ knock off it is very slow. If
    you are going to spend that mush money go with the ICD2 it is much
    faster and it is a debugger.

    Or if you want you can build your own ICD2 here are the plans
    http://home.vrweb.de/~lotharstolz/stolz.de.be/icd/main.html

    As far as the chip itself microchip will usually give a limeted number
    of free samples. Especially if you are in the industry or a student.

    There is also a free c compiler for them here
    http://www.bknd.com/index.shtml

    hope this helps
     
  9. Wim Lewis

    Wim Lewis Guest

    Yup. I think that's a relatively recent development; until a few
    years ago I didn't know of any uC-like ARMs (they were mostly
    designed for more microcomputer-like systems, requiring a lot
    more external support circuitry than a typical microcontroller).

    For the OP, I'd recommend either the PIC or the AVR, simply because
    they're popular and there's a large community of other users on the net.
     
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