Choosing a production microcontroller

Discussion in 'Embedded Systems and Microcontrollers' started by dsengere, Jan 12, 2014.

  1. dsengere

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jan 12, 2014
    Hi Guys. My name is Dan and this is my first post.

    I'm a grad student studying mechatronics, and I have a bachelor's in mechanical engineering. I come here asking for some help.

    I am interested in developing electromechanical systems for production (not just for hobby). For now, I'll just an example of a sandwhich-making machine.

    I see all kinds of hobby microcontrollers out there, most notably the Arduino. These are all fine and well, but I want to be able to take ideas to the next step. I want to choose microcontrollers for production. That is, the smallest and most economical option.

    It seems to me that by far, the easiest way to develop a prototype solution is to use Simulink, then use a compiler to put your controller code onto a microcontroller. I hear this is quite easy with Arduino.

    My question: Are there any production-level microcontrollers out there with this same capability? I don't want to waste my time messing around with Arduino if I can cut to the chase and begin programming on a more "Realistic" platform. It seems like everyone who uses Arduino is just using it for fun. I want to take it to the next level!

    Any guidance on this subject would be incredibly appreciated.

    Thanks! :D
  2. spinnaker

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 29, 2009
    Hundreds if not thousands (from a single manufacturer). What maybe dozens of manufacturers? Microchip for just one.

    Then then is Atmel which the Arduino is based on. Nothing says you can't use the Arduino for prototyping then design a board on your own using the chip.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2014
  3. MrChips


    Oct 2, 2009
    Arduino is not a microcontroller. It is a platform.

    There are tens of thousands of microcontrollers to choose from supplied by dozens of manufacturers. I will not list the major contenders for danger of omitting any particular manufacturer.

    If you would like more information let us know what specifically you wish to know.

    btw, choosing the microcontroller is not the first step in the design process.
  4. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
    You can waste lots of time looking for the prefect controller here. There are lots of companies making micro controllers because they all do a decent job for the money.

    Microchip, TI, NXP, Silicon Labs, plus 20 others I'm forgetting. Lots of sources.

    As far as Simulink goes, I've never used it, but it seems to support several micro controllers. However, what are you to do if you hit the MAKE SANDWICH button and it drops all the ingredients on the panini grill sans the bread? Debugging code is a very vital step in any program development, and something to consider.

    I'd suggest you look closer at the tools available, as far as programers and in circuit debuggers go, rather then the controller itself. Find those that fit your budget.
  5. GetDeviceInfo

    Senior Member

    Jun 7, 2009
    I'd be looking at the mechanical side long before looking for a controller. If you've done that, then a list of requirements would chart the path.
  6. THE_RB

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 11, 2008
    Welcome to the forum. :)

    Regarding your question, I would suggest at first that you team up with someone who already has a decent level of skill in embedded design, and has produced microcontroller designs for actual products.

    That way you can focus on the mechanical design and they do the electronic/micro side of the design.

    It might not be exactly what you wanted to hear, but a product like a "machine" that has significant mechanicals and electronics is a very large difficult project for one person, especially if the person has to start learning the entire electronic/micro side.
  7. takao21203

    Distinguished Member

    Apr 28, 2012
    These days it does not make much difference anymore what kind of chip you choose. Most controllers only cost 2 or 3 dollars.

    It will be a few percent of the total cost.

    Cheaper 1 dollar chips are only interesting for mass products, or as additional, secondary distributed controllers.

    PIC32 is a good platform- there is a code base available, actually two different one's since recently.

    There is not just the standard Arduino. There are very small micro Arduinos- you can get the boards for a few $. And high-end Aruduino's also exist.

    Arduino is not much more than a PCB with a controller and a voltage regulator. There is however also a source code base, and a large online forum. As well, so-called shields are available.

    It is based on Atmel brand controllers.

    Using C language, most controllers are somehow compatible, however, if you use USB and other advanced pheripherals, it is not so easy to port when you use libraries supplied.

    You can buy since recently small TFT displays for just a few $- or use 7segment or LED only.

    It depends how you want to market your product.

    Or is it just a prototype?

    As it was suggested, I'd recommend collaboration with someone who is really commited to embedded design