Buying AVR Microcontroller, Opinion Needed

Discussion in 'Embedded Systems and Microcontrollers' started by Tim Saunders, Jun 3, 2009.

  1. Tim Saunders

    Thread Starter Member

    Apr 28, 2009
    10
    0
    Hello, My name is Tim Saunders.
    I am looking to buy a microcontroller. I have done some research and it seems to me that Atmel's AVR microcontrollers are many people's choice (let's not start a war between AVR and PIC). I have never used a microcontroller before, but I have built a few discreet component devices like a DAC and a servo controller and things like that, so I want something with quite a bit of functionality to work with. I understand how microcontrollers work and would like to use one to control some robotics.
    I'm looking at Atmel AVR, but I'm open to suggestions.

    Here's what i'm looking for:

    Budget -- $450 upper limit.
    Mode -- 8 bit or more. I would prefer more, but cost is more important.
    In/Out -- Analog. Digital. Pulse Width. (A few of each, I'd probably
    want 4 servos and multiple sensors connected up at once. It's for
    robotics)
    Memory -- Reprogrammable, and enough RAM to compute movements
    P Language -- I prefer C++, but I can always learn a new one.

    Any suggestions would be much very appreciated. Thanks for reading this.

    Note: I'm from Canada (eh, laugh it up). A close supplier would be nice but not necessary.
     
  2. nanovate

    Distinguished Member

    May 7, 2007
    665
    1
  3. John Luciani

    Active Member

    Apr 3, 2007
    477
    0
    The popular Atmel uCs like the '168/328 and the ATmega1280 have all of
    the resources you listed except the analog outputs. You would have to add your
    own DAC. I would use either an I2C or SPI DAC. If you get a board
    that supports the Arduino bootloader you could use the Arduino tools for a quick
    start (C and C++). After you get familiar with the uC you could use C or C++
    with the free compiler (Linux, MAC or PC).

    I make a kit that integrates an ATmega168 with a Zigbee radio (XBee). I burn
    the Arduino bootloader on the '168. A datasheet with schematics is at http://tinyurl.com/djg9q3
    In the application hints section of the website are a few software examples
    that were created using the Arduino tools and library.

    (* jcl *)
     
  4. Salgat

    Active Member

    Dec 23, 2006
    215
    1
    I started with a STK500 (requires no additional parts and programs any DIP AVR). I also made a screencast showing how to start using the AVR in AVR Studio.

    http://salgat.angelfire.com/AVRINTRO1.htm

    I prefer the ATmega644 simply because it is the most feature packed of the DIPs (although that might have changed now).
     
  5. Tim Saunders

    Thread Starter Member

    Apr 28, 2009
    10
    0
    Thanks everyone. I took a look at your suggestions and I decided on getting the Arduino Mega. That's a good little website John Luciani, I even picked up a few sensors I needed. It is relatively low cost, so I won't feel to bad if I destroy it. It looks like it will give me more than enough to work with.

    Also, Salgat, that's a sweet little tutorial. I've never seen one like that before.

    Let me just say you guys really made my day by replying. This stuff is so interesting to me, I quit my job and I am now doing the necessary coarses for admission to University of Waterloo's, Mechatronics program. I can't wait and I will enjoy showing them what I have built.
     
  6. John Luciani

    Active Member

    Apr 3, 2007
    477
    0
    Me too! Having two UARTs is nice. It seems as though I am always one UART short.

    My last job used the '168 and contained a BT radio and a OLED (UART interface). I
    added a MUX. My current job uses the '644 and requires a BT radio, OLED and USB. I added the mux. I wanted to use the XMega A4 device (TQFP-44, five UARTs) but it
    wasn't available in time.

    (* jcl *)
     
  7. franzschluter

    Active Member

    Jun 1, 2009
    95
    0
    Sorry this is in German.. But from the Conrad you can buy these units and kits..Just look for C-control pro
    http://www.conrad.com/

    C-control pro unit/module website..
    http://www.c-control.de/c-control-pro/c-control-pro/startseite_c-control-pro.html

    Depending on what you need you can MEGA32 Atmel chip or MEGA128.

    MEGA128 Specs are
    C-CONTROL PRO UNIT MEGA 128
    110 K Flash-Memoryr, 4 K SRAM + 60 k external SRAM on the Evaluation Board Mega 128, 4 K EEPROM, 2 x UART, SPI, i²C, 10-Bit-ADC with 8 Channels, Analog-Komparator, 5 PWM-DAC, 53 digitale I/Os, 3 externeal Interrupts, 2 x 8-Bit-Timer, 2 x 16-Bit-Timer, Taktfrequency 14,7456 MHz, 64 pin DIL-Gehäuse, Dimension 41 x 41 x 12 mm³.


    No more soldering or buying extra power supplies and whatsoever.. The chip is an Atmel. The evaluation board and project board come with the programmers, you can program with USB or COM1. The IDE for programming is very very user friendly since you can program in compact C and Basic which is childsplay. No need to learn complicated ASM languages.

    I did a lot of projects with these units and it works great. A couple of years ago it was all in german including the IDE. Now they got english IDE version and manual in english as well. I built my own Hall Generator Ignition System for my mopet scooter.. Now it runs with hall effect generator and not with a CDI.

    Temperature Regulators,Automation,GSM,PWM,Motor Drivers,Distance sensors etc etc all of these you can get also as modules. These are kits for those who don't want to solder anymore and for lazy people like me.

    Entire kit will cost about 120 Euros depending from where or whom you buy. That is about 140$ depending on currencies I don't know. I think there are units also on e-bay. I bought everything mines a year ago which was on sale for 70$. Board+Cables+MCU+CD+Manual+LCD with backlight+Numeric PAD

    Regards
    Franz
     
  8. Salgat

    Active Member

    Dec 23, 2006
    215
    1
    I've been dying for the xmegas for a while. Curses to Atmel for having made it so buggy haha.
     
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