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Microchip's PIC microcontrollers

  1. Jun 11, 2009 #1
    I like Microchip's PIC microcontrollers. The ATMEL microcontrollers are a bit more advanced, but I am gradually going towards them. Are there other companies you would recommend for amateur robotics engineers?

  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 11, 2009 #2


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    Re: Microcontrollers

    The venerable Motorola 68000, one of its variants (HC11 is very popular in certain circles), or its most recent descendent, the Motorola DragonBall. Beefier and more expensive than all but the high end of either PIC or ATMEL.

    However, the Time Processing Unit (TPU) on the microcontroller variants is miles beyond anything you find on a PIC or ATMEL. 16 nearly-independent channels of PWM, input capture, clock generation, phase shifting, etc.

    Also, since they're so old, most of the bugs and quirks are well documented and ironed out.

    But outside of that, the Z80 sees strong enthusiast support, though I'm not sure about its updated descendants made by Rabbit Semiconductor.
  4. Jun 11, 2009 #3


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    Re: Microcontrollers

    For amateur robotics, Parallax makes some very reasonably-priced stuff, including their BASIC-Stamp series of microcontrollers. I have used them in the past, they are easy to work with and have good technical support.

  5. Jun 11, 2009 #4
    Re: Microcontrollers

    I have to disagree. I've used the HC11s/HC12s before and IMO they are archaic pieces of crap. The only reason they are still around is because old timers are to lazy to learn anything new.

    PICs are a very good place to start. You don't need to know PICs and AVRs, they both have products that will do the job of what ever it is your going to do unless you get into the 32-bit stuff. If thats the case I like the ARM series chips. If you get into the really advanced stuff the GumStixx are pretty nice as they can run linux.

    Parallax makes some great boards and chips but I think they are a level below PICs. I still have and use my trusty Basic Stamp II board for all sorts of small projects.

    I've sort of been out of the electronics circle for a while but I'm still using an ARM7 for my research project.
  6. Jul 11, 2009 #5
    Re: Microcontrollers


    I'm new to the forum. I've just registered. I work with microcontrollers. I can strongly recommend Atmel AVR microcontrollers as they are real RISC. Atmel has a "motor control oriented" AVR's with lotsa pwm channels and it's Xmega series, 8 bitters also that are IO general control oriented. And are cheaper than PICS. Also the code is portable between micro families (that's why I preferred AVR's over PIC. Pic's change their instruction width between family)
    You have C compilers available for free (GNU GCC), and their most useful piece of software is AVR studio, which is used for development and debug and it's free. You have available RTOS firmware for free, for operating system coding, in case you're not going to program the bare metal.

    And finally, there are the AVR32 architecture, RISC, well supported (GCC, Linux, FreeRTOS, AVR32 Studio), and ultra high throughput multimedia oriented (AP7 series) or high speed Control /connectivity oriented (UC3X series)

    The debug probes are the same for all the AVR microcontrolers (AVR and AVR32) and are cheap. And the microcontrollers indeed are cheap (compared with others with the same capabilities) Even the 32 bitters are head to head in price with the most powerful 8 bitters (to date).

    For high precission mixed signal oriented microcontrollers you can check the Silabs microcontrollers. They are 8051 RISC tuned supersets, so most of the existing 8051 code can run on it faster. Their analog performance is very good, as a friend of mine told.


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