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Microcontroller Suggestions

  1. Oct 12, 2005 #1
    Hey everyone, I'm starting to take up an interest in microcontrollers and I have a basic idea of how they work, but I'm still really new to it all, and I think I could use some help or at least a pointer in the right direction... basically what I want is: to be able to control motors, lights and such from my computer (small 1-12v... stuff like that), whether it be in realtime or programmable that would be great. Although, i've looked at a few beginner's kits (complete with parts, cables and software) and they would run me anywhere from $99 (being the cheapest) to $400 (being the most expensive I saw)... and to me that seems a bit pricey for some cable and a chip.. I've also tried looking for instructions on building the controller board myself and its kinda over my head right now... so If anyone has any ideas where I can get this stuff cheaper that would be awesome. Thanks :biggrin:
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 12, 2005 #2


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  4. Oct 12, 2005 #3
    U can try atmel. all u need is a programer $20 max and an atmel MCU and ur set. Atmel has a free asm compiler +IDE. If u want a C compiler, get WINAVR. It works great!

    Imo atmel MCU is less confusing and easier to use than PIC.
  5. Oct 12, 2005 #4
    You can try your hands with two good books I can suggest.The first one is Programming and customizing the 8051 microcontroller by Myke Predko.The second one is The 8051 microcontroller and embedded systems by Mazidi and Mazidi.These have some small projects and all the fundamentals explained clearly.You can build some simple projects given in these text books.Best of luck.
  6. Oct 12, 2005 #5
    Thanks for the welcome and advice guys; I've been looking rather in depth at some of Atmel's chips and kits.... I admit, The chip prices are very appealing, but the programmer prices range from $79 (to) $125 + a $24 adapter for the chip I'm looking at (AT89C51), so If you can show me where I can find a $20 programmer as you mentioned, I would be very greatful, I'm on a budget of about $60 max :uhh:

    - and also...why isn't a serial interface reccomended? I know its fairly old... but is it really that bad?
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2005
  7. Oct 12, 2005 #6
    Hi!Josephjah,you can log into the following web for your requirements of cheap but quality programmers for Atmel AT89C51 family chips
  8. Oct 14, 2005 #7
    ahh, yes... thanks umasankar, that site was very helpful, I think I have found what I'm looking for now :)
  9. Oct 14, 2005 #8


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  10. Oct 16, 2005 #9
    I was in the same situation last year. I would recommend starting out with PIC's, for no other reason then the massive volume of free tutorials and code examples out there. Once you learn a bit about how they work and how to program them, moving on to another type of microcontroller is easy.

    Try these guys www.sparkfun.com, They can supply you with exactly what you need. I am not affiliated with this company in anyway, other then being a satisfied customer.

    I got set up with a few PIC microcontollers, a cheap power supply, and a parallel cable programmer for about $40. I don't recommend the cheaper serial port programmers, I had very inconsistent results from it and from what I've read, I'm far from being alone in that.

    Check out this web board, There are some very knowledgeable people on it that will gladly help you with your code, project suggestions, or anything else concerning electronics.

    Good luck, have fun.
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