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Micro controllers

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earjun

New Member
Hi all
Iam very new to the microcontrollers.so I have been looking for info on these.
Things got me really confusing.I understand the basic operation of microcontrollers.What confuses me is the variety that is available.I mean how do you program each of them?What are the necessary hardware and software required?What are evaluation boards?
 

SPDCHK

Member
Your question is the same as asking why are there so many forms and models of transport available (trains, planes, motor vehicles, motor cycles, boats, space shuttles etc, etc)

Each transport vehicle fulfills a specific need. You can’t use a motor cycle to transport a 500 ton generator from Japan to Africa.

As for micro controllers it’s the same. So many manufacturing companies, so many models, so many ways in which to program the chips.

Being a beginner, it’s rather advisable for us to tell us more about your experience and background. From there it will be easier to guide you through deciding which micro to start “experimenting” with. And yes, every micro type does have it’s own programmer, software development tool and sometimes programming language.
 

arhi

Member
start here: http://www.electro-tech-online.com/threads/pic-newcomers-please-read-upd-0xd1.15035/

That is mostly PIC (microchip's uC) related but can be applied to other manufacturers too

just like there is a bunch of car manufacturers making different car's there's bunch of companies making uC's. They all have same characteristics that make them uC's (cpu, ram, peripherals) but then again they are all different (type of cpu, amount of ram/rom, internal architecture - harvard or fon noyman, different peripherals - usart, ccp, adc, dac... different speed ...)

you can group them into families, each family have basic similarities (similar cpu and architecture, different speed and peripherals). Usually one family share
- sw dev tools (assemblers, compilers ..)
- hw dev tools (programmer, in circuit debugger, in circuit emulator ..)

example of families would be: pic16f, pic18f, dspic, attiny, msp430F4, msp430F2, msp430F1...

some programmers can programm only single chip, some can do whole family, some can do multiple families .. some are half there, for e.g. my old programmer could do any PIC that is 5V operated but none that is 3V or less ... the current one can do almost all PIC's ... I have another one that can do any uC from any MSP430* family ... etc etc ...

Necessary sw/hw depends on the uC. In 99.99% cases (depends on the manufacturer really), you will get free assembler and that's about it. On top of that you need a programmer so you can "burn" the binary into uC. That's all that you really need, but, asm programming is slow and incredibly hard to maintain so if you need any level of maintainability or feasibility, you go with higher level language, namely C. There are other possibilities like basic, pascal and some other "new" languages (like JAL, B# ..) but C is what is "common" today.

Evaluation board is usually a board that features uC + programmer (embedded or separate) + external hw (usually bunch of LED's and switches and maybe few analog inputs) that you can use to learn basics of specific uC family. For example pic16F family eval board is likely to have few led's, few switches, analog input, txt character display and rs232 port ... pic18F dev board will probably have USB port, maybe CAN or LIN external interface ... dsPIC will probably allow you to do some signal processing so graphics lcd with few analog inputs and oscilloscope like firmware ... etc etc etc ... Note that you do not have only uC general eval boards, there are specific boards, for example you have XBEE PRO eval board where uC is irrelevant, the think you are evaluating is the XBEE module .. etc .. check out the mikroElektronika | Solutions for the embedded systems site, they have different dev boards + eval extensions for the dev board for different families of uC's, and also some universal boards that can be used for multiple families (even different brands) like: UNI-DS 3 Development Board | mikroElektronika

Do not get this as advert for mikroe, if you search this forum you will find me bitching about them a lot (theirs PIC dev tools, both hw and se are not compatible with microchip tools like MPLAB and that is BIG minus for them), but they do show excellent example of what dev/eval board is.

hope this helps, btw uC == micro controller
 

earjun

New Member
To SPDCHK thanks for the reply.
Iam an engineering student and Iam into my 5th semester now.I have no experience with the microcontrollers except for some tutorials from youtube,wikipedia and other sites.So could you please guide me into learning about microcontrollers...And which one to start with??
 

earjun

New Member
To arhi thanks ..
So that clarifies lots of doubts of mine thank you.
Now Iam interested in learning about microcontrollers.So I dont have a specific application or project for which i should choose a uc.
Could you please tell me which microcontroller to start with?
 

Nigel Goodwin

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
To arhi thanks ..
So that clarifies lots of doubts of mine thank you.
Now Iam interested in learning about microcontrollers.So I dont have a specific application or project for which i should choose a uc.
Could you please tell me which microcontroller to start with?
By far the most popular in the MicroChip PIC, which is also cheap and very simple to learn, next most popular is the Atmel AVR, which is also cheap and easy to learn.

But really it depends where you are (you don't have your location filled in on your profile) and what experience you have.
 
To SPDCHK thanks for the reply.
Iam an engineering student and Iam into my 5th semester now.I have no experience with the microcontrollers except for some tutorials from youtube,wikipedia and other sites.So could you please guide me into learning about microcontrollers...And which one to start with??
Surely in an engineering school there will be a microcontroller or robotics class. What have they decided on for a platform? Having use of a lab, or on campus expertise could be a convenient and deciding factor. Lectures could be available on line, texts and project boards at the bookstore.
 

Triode

Active Member
If you want to cut to the chase, most newcomers including me who follow this line of questioning come to this conclusion.

Programmer: Junebug
Chip to use: PIC 18F series, the junebug comes with 18F1320
language software: Mplab C18 or CSC C, or if you prefer basic, swordfish basic

Anyway, I just spent quite a while looking around and asking these guys hundreds of questions and these are the decisions I reached. Not saying you have to make the same ones, there's other programmers, theres AVR which is a whole different brand of chips than PIC, and there's other languages. Part of my reason for choosing these is that they are popular on this forum, and in general, which matters because as I see it, getting something you can get the information to actually use is a lot more important than something with a few more features. I like to go against the grain in creative matters, but with technical stuff it usually just causes headaches. So these are the choices of a guy who wants to get to making robots as soon as possible and the technical stuff is just my way there, if you're doing this to get into a lot of detail about how thing work, more of a linux guy than a windows guy, your choices would be totally different.
 

earjun

New Member
To Nigel Goodwin
Iam from India..
And I had mentioned about my experience I really dont have any experience dealing with uc
 

Rdragon2008

New Member
I agree with SPDCHK
Your question is the same as asking why are there so many forms and models of transport available (trains, planes, motor vehicles, motor cycles, boats, space shuttles etc, etc)

Each transport vehicle fulfills a specific need. You can’t use a motor cycle to transport a 500 ton generator from Japan to Africa.

As for micro controllers it’s the same. So many manufacturing companies, so many models, so many ways in which to program the chips.

Being a beginner, it’s rather advisable for us to tell us more about your experience and background. From there it will be easier to guide you through deciding which micro to start “experimenting” with. And yes, every micro type does have it’s own programmer, software development tool and sometimes programming language.
__________________
Don’t argue with idiots.......they will drag you down to their level and then beat you with experience!


And I agree also wih Triode & thank you a explaining this for us
 

3v0

Coop Build Coordinator
Forum Supporter
There are so many kinds for at least two reasons.

First there are several firms that make microcontrollers and each is different. Here we mostly talk about PICs and to some degree AVRs.

Second they make a lot of variations to help get a close or exact match to what the engineer needs to a system with very few parts.

An evaluation board is a PCB with a microcontroller and all the bits needed to make it work. It allows you to evaluate or try the microcontroller without building your own PCB.

Modern microprocessors require a hardware tool to program them. The is called a programmer or development tool.

I hope that helps.
 

Rdragon2008

New Member
Oh camon rdragon why do you post like this...Copying the entire post of some one else

You made laugh earjun on this comment !!! by the way nice to be with you in this site.
 
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