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Getting started with microcontrollers

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Froskoy

New Member
Hi,

I like the idea of been able to program my own chips and to be able to do many more things in a much smaller space than with 74/4000 series logic ICs, so I want to get started with microcontrollers.

Where is the best place to start? I want to be able to program something on my computer and download it to a chip for a minimum cost.

What should I buy? What should I read? I have some electronics experience, but I'm not an expert.

Many thanks,

Froskoy.
 

BrownOut

Banned
Radio Shack sells a kit that includes everything you need to get started programming the Basic Stamp. I think the only thing you would have to buy is a serial cable to download your code. I had to buy a USB-2-serial converter, as my computer didn't have a serial connection.

For the record, I think the kit is over priced. However, it is a pretty good place to start w/microcontrollers.
 
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Froskoy

New Member
Just logged onto the radio shack website and that looks just the sort of thing I'm looking for - thanks very much.

I've heard of, and read a bit about, PIC microcontrollers. Are they any good for a beginner? Thanks again.
 

KMoffett

Well-Known Member
For $99.99 (Radio Shack) you might want to take a look at other options. Like the PICAXE from Revolution Education...also free software and manuals, and only requires a serial cable: PICAXE
Once you start using the BASIC Stamp in projects you will find that they are very expensive one-off. It's a very good µP...just expensive.
The cheapest are MicroChip PICs. The PICAXE and BASIC Stamp use these but with onboard software. Dirt cheap chips...but require a hardware programmer.

Lots of choices out there and trade-offs on all of them.

Ken
 

kchriste

New Member
Forum Supporter
Considering that you can get a PICkit 2 for less than $50, and raw PICs are really cheap compared to the Basic Stamps, I would avoid the Stamp route. You can also download a free Basic compiler if Basic is your thing.
 
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AllVol

New Member
For $99.99 (Radio Shack) you might want to take a look at other options. Like the PICAXE from Revolution Education...also free software and manuals, and only requires a serial cable: PICAXE
Once you start using the BASIC Stamp in projects you will find that they are very expensive one-off. It's a very good µP...just expensive.
The cheapest are MicroChip PICs. The PICAXE and BASIC Stamp use these but with onboard software. Dirt cheap chips...but require a hardware programmer.

Lots of choices out there and trade-offs on all of them.

Ken


If you just want to get your feet wet with mpu's, the PICKAXE is the easiest and most economical way to go. The little 08 chips are less than five bucks US, and that's the entire cost, aside from postage, of course.

The download is free, the serial cable can be made with just three pieces of wire and a D9 connector, the manual is downloaded right along with the programmer.

And the chips can do a lot... especially for someone just getting started.

Since the entire PICKAXE series are PICs bootloaded with the basic language, if you decide to go further, you will have a very good knowledge of the devices and can smoothly transition to the next level.

Check on the PH Anderson or Ron Hackett sites (just Google), for further information.
 
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