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which microcontroller for a beginner

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bennetto

New Member
Hi all is was just wondering what a goo cheap micro controller would be for a beginner in both programming and electronics.

I know my way around enough to build simple circuits.

and the only programming language i have down is TI basic and a little (not enough to do anything) of C++

thanks a lot
 

AtomSoft

Well-Known Member
It depends on you really :D the cheapest i think are PICs.

A programmer(PICKIT 2) and PIC will cost about $60 and PICs alone are about $2 for a 10F,12F series and some 16F are about $3-$8 and some 18F PICS are about $3-$11 and some PIC24 and dsPIC32 are non beginner items so dont worry :D

You can use ASM, BASIC, C and a few other languages to program. C from microchip has a free student version (NOTE: you DO NOT have to be a student :D )

For BASIC: Swordfish is awesome!
For ASM: Free with MPLAB.

Note if you choose PICs and get a PICKIT 2 then you are set to program almost all 10F-18F and many PIC24 and dsPICs
 
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azka

New Member
Yes.. i think the cheapest microcontroller is PIC.. that most using by people.. also easy to program.. aonly have 35 instruction.. complete in the datasheet..
 

vinoth

New Member
But As a beginner ATMEL will be suitable. Because in PIC we have to first load a boot loader and the cost also high. If we take ATMEL there is no need for boot loader and we have free TOP Simulator tools it will help for both programming as well as debugging.
 

AtomSoft

Well-Known Member
lol, sorry for the laugh but the PIC doesnt need a bootloader. Some pics dont have bootloader capabilities at all. MPLAB has nice Simulation and many other simulation tools for PIC are available. Most if not all PICs have ICSP (In Circuit Serial Programming) and ICD (In Circuit Debugging).

ATMEL is wierd as they have many different programming methods for various chips like JTAG, ISP and many more. Which may confuse a new user. PICS only have ISCP.

PICs are by far better starting point for beginners to jump into the environment.

EDIT:
Note to "vinoth" what PICs are you using that you need a bootloader? Parallex? or maybe you dont have a real programmer so you use a bootloader instead?

If you own a PICKIT 2 or a Junebug(is awesome!) then you are good to go. No bootloader needed.

Check out : blueroomelectronics Inchworm DISCONTINUED see Inchworm+

I own that and a PICKIT 2. I had the junebug first. Its awesome to learn on and very cheap and can be used to program many if not all other 5v PICs and with a slight mod the 3v PICs also.
 
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Leftyretro

New Member
If you already know a little C/C++ then you really should look into the Arduino system. It's open source both hardware and software so there is lots of vendors making products and no vendor lock in. You can get started for around $30 for a USB based development board. The IDE software is of course free, but also can run on windows/linux/apple.

Here is the official site:

Arduino - HomePage


Here are examples of clone manufactures:

Freeduino/Arduino

SparkFun Electronics - Arduino

Lefty
 

Nigel Goodwin

Super Moderator
Most Helpful Member
Hi AtomSoft,
I'm using PIC16F877A pic It require bootloader.
No it doesn't, it can 'optionally' have a bootloader installed, but it has no requirement for one - it's simply programmed by a programmer, in-circuit if required, and (using a PICKit2 or similar) also has the capability of in-circuit debugging.

Either PIC or AVR would be fine as a starting point, but there's much greater support for the PIC range, and far more users.
 

CCD

New Member
ATMEL is wierd as they have many different programming methods for various chips like JTAG, ISP and many more. Which may confuse a new user. PICS only have ISCP.
that statement is weird atomsoft! :)
That one is actually a stronger side of Atmel AVRs, they offer you so many different methods of programming a single microcontroller, it's on you which one to choose, every microcontroller doesn't have a different method! you can program every AVR thru SPI, if you like!
AVRs are cheaper (atlest I've got them always cheaper here). Making a serial programmer for AVR is child's job!!
And on top of this, AVR has got a fully functional free simulator (IDE) avrstudio and a free C compiler AVR-GCC, having a gr8 free support online!!
So, AVR is good for beginners!!!
 

AtomSoft

Well-Known Member
Thanks for pointing that out Nigel.

PIC16F877A as well as all PIC Micro dont require a bootloader. In order to use a bootloader on it you have to use a programmer such as a PICKit 2 or compatible to program a bootloader in it. Then once its in there you can program it via custom software using USB/Serial or another pic. Well from almost anywhere you can get data from.

I suggest getting a Junebug since its very inexspensive and comes with a PIC18F1320 on board and can be used as a programmer for other chips.

Its very nice.

If you want a programmer that will do it all (or close to all) then get a PICkit 2. This will do alot for you. I started from the 18F1320.

A great pic to start using is a PIC18F2480. Its cheap and Has alot such as SPI/I2C hardware built in. Any nice memory size and speeds. For larger pin count you can easily switch to a PIC18F4480. They both have the same Datasheet.

Good luck.
 

AtomSoft

Well-Known Member
CCD thats not a good thing at least in my opinion. You will over-complicate a lot of things like that.

Why need so many ways to program a chip? Pic micros have less work to debug and program.

ISP is cool i will say. Look at this:

Programming Interfaces
- In-System Programming
- High Voltage Serial Programming
- Parallel Programming
- JTAG Programming

Emulation Interfaces
- JTAG
- debugWIRE
So many things. A PIC will set you up with 5 wire interface ICSP. Which will get you programming and debugging in no time.
 

futz

Active Member
CCD thats not a good thing at least in my opinion. You will over-complicate a lot of things like that.

Why need so many ways to program a chip? Pic micros have less work to debug and program.
Nonsense. Most AVR users use ISP (like PIC's LVP), which is the equivalent of how most PIC users use (what AVR users call) HVP. Both work fine. The PIC has two options. The AVR has a few more options, which are very nice to have.

But if such a little thing confuses you by "over-complicating" things, then you probably shouldn't be messing with MCUs in the first place. Go watch TV instead (shrink your brain instead of expanding it). :D

Jason, you're starting out with ARMs soon, right? Soon you will find out about "too many" options. :D It'll make your head spin.
 
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3v0

Coop Build Coordinator
Forum Supporter
lol 3v0 why cant lust turn to love ? Just kidding.
It some cases it can.

Over the years I have used a few processors. After a while the next one is just more details to learn, just so you can do what you already know how to do on the previous N processors. After a while they start to blur.

I can sort of undersand the attraction in what you are doing. But the memory is dim. Time for a nap. :)

3v0
 

AtomSoft

Well-Known Member
lol im just trying to say for a BEGINNER lots of options like that are not friendly. I love options now. But to a begginer like this guy he wants to learn with minimal hair loss i suspect.

I like PICs, AVRs and ARMs so im like a mircowhore (uWhore) LOL. :D am i allowed to say that? heh

Basically pics are simplest in my own opinion. Less options = easier operation.

For example:

If a Airplane was controlled VIA Remote like a model car, then anyone could learn in a day. But since there are so many options its takes a while to learn.

Think of PICs as a RC Car(electric)
Think of AVRs as a RC Car(gas)
Think of ARMs as a Real Car.(or close to it :D)
 

futz

Active Member
lol im just trying to say for a BEGINNER lots of options like that are not friendly. I love options now. But to a begginer like this guy he wants to learn with minimal hair loss i suspect.
And I'm just trying to say that "newbie does not necessarily automatically mean simpleton". :p After some brief learning about the options they'll pick one and use it. The rest are just options. No big deal. MCUs are loaded with options. A few more aren't much of a problem.

And if a little thing like a few options throws them, then maybe they should find a simpler hobby. :D No matter how much you simplify computers they're still very complex devices. A certain amount of complexity is always going to be necessary if you're going to program and interface to these things.
 
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AtomSoft

Well-Known Member
yeah yeah ... im not trying to be-little anyone sorry if it looks that way. :D

Heh its his choice anyway. Alot of users here use or dabble in both like Mr Futz :D He would have more info than me :D

I still feel like PICs are a great start.
 
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