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Microcontroller Starter Kit

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Nitish Reddy

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So I'm in my last year of undergrad and its high time I learnt how to implement Microcontrollers in my projects.

I was wondering what are *Compulsory* and what are *Additional* ?
1) Microcontroller Programmer
2) Microcontroller Development Board.

My needs involve basic logic, timing, counting, seven segment LED display, LCD display etc. Are PIC microcontrollers good and easy enough to handle the mentioned tasks?

Thanks
Nitish
 

cubanflyer

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You will need a programmer of somekind to get your code into your pic.

Development boards come a variety of types, but all have some kind of input and outputs, you should be able to find one with the features you require. Some people prefer to use breadboard or simulators. I actually use all three depending on what I want to do.

A pic should be able to perform all that you are asking of it in your post
 

Nitish Reddy

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These simulators are software applications right? Are there any simulators that i can download online?

Thanks a lot!
 

thannara123

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Use the simulator proteus or multisim . You can use mikroc to compile pic program . See some devolapment board and its specialisation In some online shop through net . For example www.embeddedmarcket.com, extreemelectronics.com , etc
 

bigdogguru

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Depending on the MCU family you decided to use, some of the assember/compiler IDEs have simulators built-in.

While I use a wide range of MCU families for various commercial projects, I support cubanflyer's recommendation of choosing the Microchip PIC. Microchip has unsurpassed customer support, their MCUs range from well below $1 up, free assembler/compiler/simulator/IDE, development boards/programmers are very reasonable and fantastic documentation.

Start off with a PIC 16F Series development kit bundled with a PICkit 2/3 programmer/debugger:

PICkit 2 Development Programmer/Debugger Kits

PICkit 3 In-Circuit Debugger Kits

Download the MPLAB IDE/Simulator/Assembler/Hi-Tech Lite C Compiler for free:

MPLAB Integrated Development Environment

HI-TECH C for the PIC10/12/16 MCU Family

And get yourself a good reference book:

Designing Embedded Systems with PIC Microcontrollers, Second Edition: Principles and Applications

A great book highly recommended, steps you through building his Derbot robot, covers assembly, C and lots of interfacing with the real world.

This book takes the novice from introduction of embedded systems through to advanced development techniques for utilizing and optimizing the PIC family of microcontrollers in your device. To truly understand the PIC, assembly and C programming language must be understood. The author explains both with sample code and examples, and makes the transition from the former to the latter an easy one. This is a solid building block for future PIC endeavors.
PIC based starter kit with programmer/debugger, a good book and you're on your way!
 

Nitish Reddy

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I think I know what to get now:

1) PIC Microcontroller
2) PIC Programmer
3*) PICkit 2 If possible
4) IDE [compiler/assember]
5) A good book

Hopefully thats it...
Thanks for the help :)
 

bigdogguru

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The good book is optional, if you want to rely on appnotes, online tutorials and peoples' opinions which many seemingly are wrong.

Since you'll decided on Microchip PIC, checkout this great free online tutorial:

Googilum Electroncis - PIC Tutorials

Very well put together with PDFs and Source Code for the lessons. They cover both assembly and C.

Ciao and Good Luck with your endeavors.
 

cubanflyer

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horace1

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bigdogguru

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Hi horace1,

Do you have a Microchip Microstick?

I was considering purchasing one for times when I'm stuck in a hotel, waiting for a flight or on an airplane. You could rough in code and test routines with just a laptop and a Microstick.

Any thoughts?
 

arbj

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the Microchip stick is a better choice than a simulator, no matter how good the simulator it can never beat the actual hardware.

The Mbed project (Rapid Prototyping for Microcontrollers | mbed) also looks good. But these do not use PIC micro-controllers.

The arduino project could also be used, if such boards are acceptable for your course.Arduino - HomePage
 

horace1

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Hi horace1,

Do you have a Microchip Microstick?

I was considering purchasing one for times when I'm stuck in a hotel, waiting for a flight or on an airplane. You could rough in code and test routines with just a laptop and a Microstick.

Any thoughts?
yes, I seem to remember first getting one at last years Microchip Master conference.
We use them for student projects (undergraduate and postgraduate) in that students can make their own PCBs with a socket for the microstick - saves the difficulty of laying out the microcontroller, programmer, etc on the PCB. The Microstick also has the pad ready to connect a FDTI TTL-232RG-VSW3V3-WE serial cable which you plug into a USB port
USB TTL Serial

have a look at
YouTube - ‪Microchip Microstick Overview‬‏
 

bigdogguru

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... students can make their own PCBs with a socket for the microstick - saves the difficulty of laying out the microcontroller, programmer, etc on the PCB.
Sounds alot like a mbed or should I say mPIC. I went ahead and ordered a couple, $25 USD, they should fit comfortably in my laptop carry bag. I can code/debug with the Microstick and plug the unit into a populated breadboard when I land.

Thanks for the recommendation horace1!
 

horace1

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I hear that there may be a PIC32 based version of the Microstick appearing soon - may see one at this year's Microchip Masters conference in Phoenix in August !
 

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