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Want to start a project, need some direction

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Newbie level 3
Jun 22, 2011
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Posting this here since I'll need a microcontroller (I think?) that can do the following, and need to know what to buy.
Basically, the project is to make a working turret from the Portal games.
I know I need some kind of motion sensor, speakers, and a motor, and a power supply... I think.
I'm fluent in assembly and C, so programming the logic and decoding audio and whatnot is no problem, I just need to know what to buy (and I have friends that can help me with soldering / assembling the parts).

I guess I'm mostly asking for what I need to start -- what microcontroller should I get to start (something that can take sensor input from the motion, and control the motor + speakers)?

Thanks for any help!

There are plenty of options which would meet the specs you outlined. However, if you want to minimize the hardware design phase of your project you might checkout the Arduino line of MCU boards:

Arduino Website

They are very inexpensive, an open source software development package, including a C compiler, is freely available for download and numerous shields (add-on-boards) are available for motor control, sensor input, etc.

Just Google "Arduino (your location)" to find the nearest source for the boards and shields. Also, there are a multitude of support sites with projects very similar to what you described.

And if you really want some horsepower, you can checkout Digilent's new PIC32 based Arduinos:

Digilent's Chipkit - 32-bit MCU Power for the Arduino™ Community

I may just order one of these to play with myself.


we find for student projects (hardware and software) the Microchip microstick is a good starting point
**broken link removed**
YouTube - ‪Microchip Microstick Overview‬‏

it is cheap (about £16 in UK), compilers etc are free for academic use, it has an onboard programmer and a header to plug into a breadoard for you own circuits

That looks great, thanks for the suggestion, I'll start there!

Hmm its always a problem with newbe where to start. I shall recommend if you just want to start and having issues with hardware designing, better go for a prebuild board "I Suggest Arduino as recommended earlier" for your's requirement. The buity of the Ardiuno is you can easily find out the prebuild module which you can interface with it and the support on the forum is also good. But if you need really something goooooood then go for Pic ds32 bit processor number of diagrams and support is available to build a simple circuit with your requirement take a day to purchase items from local electronics shop and ask your friends to give you two hours to sold it out.

Prons: I ensure you custom buil hardware is like ........... you never imagin the buity.

Cons: But make sure ask someone who has experience in hardware design, that the design you are going to build will work for you and has no designing flaws in it.
I hope it will helps.


Alright, so I did some digging and I think I found a list of the hardware I should get... I'm not sure what will work yet, but if it's possible to build it from these (or if you have better suggestions, I'm of course open to them), then happy day.
I decided to also add a pushbutton and tilt sensor. So here's the list (and links of what I found...)

I'm a bit stuck on which microcontoller to pick, but here's what I've found (I don't know what'll work):
**broken link removed**
**broken link removed**
Microstick for dsPIC33F and PIC24H
I have honestly no idea what one to choose.

Not much here, other than better places/options to get this.

**broken link removed**
Mini Pushbutton Switch
I think I'm set with these two -- they look like they do exactly what I need.

In order to detect movement, I was looking into these options:
Sonar Range Finder
Or this Passive IR Detector
The sonar one seems like the better choice for what I want to do...

If I choose to go with Arduino, I can get this Wave Shield, and that seems to be the only thing I can find so far.
Ideally, I'd like to be able to play around 35 different audio files (I can format as anything), ends up being 7mb or so.
As for speakers, I found these:
16mm Speaker
30 mm Speaker
Not sure which seems better, or if there's simply a better option here. Would it be possible to just send audio output from the microcontroller above without the Wave Shield? I assume I'd have to have some sort of external storage for the sound files, though...

Finally, the last thing I need to get together is the motor. I'm not exactly sure of the final weight, but I think the easiest way to do it is to have the top half of the turret (basically, everything but the legs) sit on a disk with ball bearing in it, and then just rotate about that (it only needs a range of about 45 degrees).
This is the motor I was looking at (perhaps too small?)

Here's a picture of what I'm trying to build.

Thanks for all the help everyone!

we find for student projects (hardware and software) the Microchip microstick is a good starting point
Microstick for dsPIC33F and PIC24H Development Board
YouTube - ‪Microchip Microstick Overview‬‏

it is cheap (about £16 in UK), compilers etc are free for academic use, it has an onboard programmer and a header to plug into a breadoard for you own circuits

dear I buy DM330013 but it is not debuging the program.
can you help me in this regard

---------- Post added at 07:26 ---------- Previous post was at 07:22 ----------

even sample programs are not debuged.
can you send me the MPLAB IDE on my email.

download MPLAB from
**broken link removed**
then the compilers from
**broken link removed**

Thanks dear but where is the compiler of microstick.
I still can not found it.
Please help me in this regard.
Thanks once again

you can download the PIC24 or dsPIC compilers from
**broken link removed**

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