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Need microcontroller recommendation

  1. Feb 13, 2007 #1
    Hi,
    I'm measuring distance using ultrasonic transducers. I will start timing, send a 40kHz pulse from the source and will return the pulse from the target (which will also contain a receiver and transmitter). I need a microcontroller with an analog comparator so that it will detect a certain threshhold voltage and will be able to time the occurence of the high edge of the returning 40kHz square wave.

    I know there are a ton of microcontrollers out there that can do this. The issue here is cost of the deveopment kit, ease of use and documentation/support/community. I'd really appreciate any input.

    Thanks
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 13, 2007 #2

    berkeman

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    Staff: Mentor

    Normally I'd suggest the PIC uCs from Microchip. But on my last project, the softies did an example device and code using the Atmel AVRTiny13 in an 8-pin DIP package, and those little Tiny devices are cheap! Using the through-hole DIP package lets you wire up a prototype by hand pretty easily, and the debugger/programming cable arrangement is pretty inexpensive as well.

    Check out this selection table to see if one of the TinyXX uCs has what you want, and then you can use findchips.com to see if it's easy to buy from Digikey or Mouser, etc.

    http://www.atmel.com/dyn/products/param_table.asp?family_id=607&OrderBy=part_no&Direction=ASC
     
  4. Feb 16, 2007 #3
    Thanks for the suggestion. Frankly, I've leaning toward TI just because they have an excellent web site that is easy to search through and I feel like I'll know what I'm getting. They also have small student discounts on parts that aren't very expensive.

    What do you think about this?
    http://focus.ti.com/docs/prod/folders/print/msp430f2131.html

    The development kit for it is here:
    http://focus.ti.com/docs/toolsw/folders/print/msp-fet430u14.html

    Atmel and Freespace don't make it very easy to figure out what microcontroller to use. I'm very new at this, so ease is key. Have you used any TI uC's? Do you think that the Atmel ones are better in some way?
     
  5. Feb 16, 2007 #4

    berkeman

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    Staff: Mentor

    Not necessarily. Sounds like you've found a good fit.
     
  6. Feb 17, 2007 #5
    For my Capstone project (4th year EE project) we ended up using a Motorola micro -- it was the one we learned in our class, and they had them in the department.

    Bad move. The manual is confusing as hell (the instructions were clearly translated from Japanese to English by Babelfish or something). It was quite a struggle... :)

    PIC's, Amtel, or TI all seem like good choices!
     
  7. Feb 17, 2007 #6
    I've programmed some TI DSP's: great support from TI.

    Their micros should be the same way.

    You can't go wrong with TI.
     
  8. Feb 20, 2007 #7
    Thanks for the reassurance. I guess I'll be ordering the kit then.
     
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