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Choosing an easy Microcontroller for class project?

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New Member

We are doing line following/ball hunting robot and need some help choosing an easy to use microcontroller. In the past, we have used an Infineon CR167. It comes with a graphical user interface and generates the C code for memory addresses, etc, with the click of a button. Then you just fill in the code within each class or function.

This uC costs $200 about, and we are looking for something less expensive. We believe this uC is more powerful that we need as well.

ANY ideas are appreciated, as we have little experience in the uC market!

We'd prefer something that generates the classes and memory/port code, uses C programming, serial port, and serveral I/O's and PWMs. thats about it!

Thanks SO much!

Steve / Team


New Member
You will be happy if you get a PIC from Microchip. They are easy to program and CHEAP :shock: $200 for that other one I guess I am not familiar with it, but seems more expensive than some Pentiums out there :)

There are tons of information out there and in this board, a PIC will not be more than U$7.00............
Good luck



New Member
PIC from Microchip

You can go to microchips website and get a couple free samples to start with. With a couple free sample you will be busy for weeks maybe even months. They have excellent documentation. Finding a programmer to build or buy will not be difficult either. I recommend the PIC16F627, PIC16F84, and PIC16F877 to start off. :D


I agree, go with a PIC, for the $200, you could have a programmer and everything else you need. After that it's just the prices of the parts. Check out the PIC section at rentron.com


Active Member
If you are doing all logic stuff then PIC is a good choice. But if you require math stuff, then go for 8051 family since PIC does not have hardware multiply/divide instructions.


New Member
pics are the way to go

see my post under pic/basic programming ....some great kits for newbies or just go to www.talkingelectronics.com there pic lab and multi pic programmer are great learning tools and they have them as a kit or ready to go I have purchased many kits from then over the past 20 years and their service is very good ( I had an email answered on a sunday!!!)



New Member
Not sure about PIC

Hey Thanks for all the tips! I've taken note on all of them.

I wonder if the PIC direction is not powerful enough. Also I only have about 1 month, controller in hand programming.

My micrcontroller needs to drive PWM's for atleast two motors, and read in I/O from several types of sensors, IR, colored light, and track sensing. I must also code in logic directions to finding the way in a maze, and display a status message on an LCD. I'd prefer to use C language since I already know it.


New Member
choice of micros

There seems to be a large and well-informed PIC contingent here, and they know more about the subject than I do. MicroChip's come up with some very good products, but don't overlook the Atmel AVR series. The available support infrastructure for each seems roughly equal, with the PIC fanatics outnumbering the AVR zealots about 2:1.

Most instructions on the AVR execute in a single clock cycle, vs. 4 for the PICs and 16 for the generic 8051. Cygnal, Dallas and others have greatly improved upon the basic 8051, but if code compatability isn't an issue, check the price before plunging in. MIPs can be a misleading benchmark, it's hard to go wrong with Atmel or MicroChip. - CAL


Active Member
16 for the generic 8051
laroche73, a correction out there. Its 12 clock cycles and not 16.

And ya, I have found out that ATMEL's 8051 derivatives are the lowest cost uCs available in the market. PICs are almost double the cost of 8051's (and they have only half the features of 8051 except for speed)
For ex. I get AT89C2051 for $1.1 while PIC16F84 for $2.5


New Member
clock cycles per instruction and low-cost micros

Thank you, I should have checked before posting. At least I got the 1 and 4 right... :)

I mentioned clock cycles since it often gets overlooked, it's one factor to consider when processing speed is important. For raw speed, straight hardware (TTL, FPGA, CPLD) wins hands down. DSPs are the next tier down, then micros. Clocks per instruction don't tell the whole story, maximum clock speed, architecture (RISC/CISC/MISC) and other things factor in as well.

Choosing a micro comes down to what's most important to you; low cost, low power, speed, backward code compatability, code density, ease of use, # of onboard peripherals, etc., no one micro family is best at all of them.

And you're right, Kinjaljp, Atmel has some inexpensive x51 flash-based derivatives. They seem to be the exception, I haven't seen low-cost x51 type micros from many others. Atmel has some innovative stuff, like the AVR, dataflash proms and 4-bit Forth micros, not to mention their x51 line. They should give up on cracking the FPGA market though, Altera & Xilinx have it pretty well locked up.

Not sure why Atmel stock is in the ***, the company makes some really good products.
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