Looking Into TI, Atmel, and maybe Freescale.

Discussion in 'Embedded Systems and Microcontrollers' started by ajm113, Feb 14, 2014.

  1. ajm113

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 19, 2011
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    Hello everyone! I'm looking into maybe merging into different MCUs and maybe getting my feet a bit wet into 32bit architecture depending what brand I go with. Here is my background.

    Strong knowledge of C/C++ language.
    College Student (Low Income going into Electronics Technology)
    Used PIC a little.
    Good understanding of logic/passive circuits and MCUs.

    So I'm basically looking for something that is inexpensive to start with. (Programmer, C compiler). TI has really caught my attention, but I've been having some problems trying to find a USB programmer for their MCUs. Atmel looks very beginner and student friendly and resources are easy to find and I'm willing to try something not too "mainstream" as long as there are good documentation.
     
  2. takao21203

    Distinguished Member

    Apr 28, 2012
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    Strong knowledge of C/C++?

    What do you want to say with that?

    Any source codes on a website maybe you wrote?

    If you use 32 bit controllers off the mainstream track, they are difficult, frankly, and there is a lot of documentation to read.

    8bit not fast enough or what is the reason?

    Explain one 8bit micro controller circuit where you ran into performance problems.

    2

    yes there are differences for the IDE software and the compilers, for instance some brands only offer demo versions with limited code sizes.

    Atmel and Microchip MCUs are common so you can get FLASH writers easily. For less popular brands, you have to rely what is offered from the distributors.

    Most evalution boards can flash blank chips!

    Freescale? I have not seen them used much by students.

    What kind of evalution boards or flash writers do you use now, if any?
     
  3. tshuck

    Well-Known Member

    Oct 18, 2012
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    I'd say get yourself a Stellaris Launchpad from Texas Instruments and get started with 32-bit ARM processors for less than $20. This board has another microcontroller on it that is responsible for programming the main chip (though these signals can be brought out to program other devices as well), so you won't need a USB programmer.
     
  4. ajm113

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 19, 2011
    176
    5
    Know proper syntax, algorithms, written a few 3D game engines using C++ and OpenGL API. I really dont have any websites, I simply hate web design, and dont take it seriously... I did write a few small open source projects and closed projects, but nothing to serous. I cant seem to find anything I released a long time ago.

    Never really ran into performance issues with 8bit/16bit. In fact I love em, and how they are DIP available 98% of the time. I simply want to get maybe design devices that require a lot of I/O. I.E LCD, keyboard, data recording/reporting, USB, mass sensor reading for industrial applications. Thats where performance, IO and perhaps RAM/FLASH maybe critical.

    Specially for instance say if I want the device to give real-time readings of mass amount sensors (temp, power, water detectors, smoke), file report of failures, and perhaps execute a response to events. I.E Switch a relay to start a pump, another to shutdown power to surrounding devices and maybe act as a Ethernet server on a local LAN network.

    Or just for kicks design bigger and meaner synthesizers. ;)

    I did use a off brand PIC flasher, which I loved. It was cheap, ran most DIP PICs off the bat. I did use the older starter kits from PIC, but it had beginner traps. Now that I have better understanding of documentation, how MCUs work, I'm not going in completely blind. I moved a couple of times, so I lost most of my tools and gear sadly.

    @tshuck

    I saw that, I actually was ready to buy it, the only thing I'm a bit turned off by is it's in ability to very easily connect to breadboard without getting adapters.

    EDIT: Sorry for my grammar mistakes. Yeah with 20+ odd hours without sleeping kinda makes life a bit difficult... <_<
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2014
  5. tshuck

    Well-Known Member

    Oct 18, 2012
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    You will find this is true for most 32-bit development boards..
     
  6. ajm113

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 19, 2011
    176
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    I may just say screw it and just buy the adapters. Assuming they are dirt cheap. Know where I can get em or what they are called? I'm kinda already sold with TI the fact I seen a YouTube clip of a chip running a LCD display using only 3 grapes. lol Plus I use a lot of their semiconductors already and I'm guesting a flasher if I want to do in circuit programming would be about 30-100 bucks anyways if I really get into the prototyping board. So it maybe money saved worst case.
     
  7. takao21203

    Distinguished Member

    Apr 28, 2012
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    PIC 24F could be an alternative, or even 18F.

    You need performance when you process graphics, or audio.
    there are some 18F PICs with very high pin count!

    But TI is good too. Indeed you could get along with most brands if you wanted to.

    What about a wordpress blog?

    The free one's at Wordpress.com are limited, however, you can get a free website at altervista, and if you wanted to, install wordpress directly to the homepage URL (or in a subdirectory).

    with the right plugins, wordpress is very very powerful. It can host web pages too, with nested structure, as well tags and categories (needs a plugin).

    Best is, Altervista homepages cost you nothing and include database/php.

    I tried STM8/STM32, recently soldered a little to the STM8 board, but it takes a while to learn the details again + how to use the software.

    MPLABX is free + is updated often + I understand how to use it, so I stick to it.

    It depends what you want to design- you mentioned sensor readings but for that 8bit/16 bit is OK.

    And it depends if you rely for online advice on forums- the more exotic the brand, the smaller the user base.
     
  8. tshuck

    Well-Known Member

    Oct 18, 2012
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    You could get female to female cables(with a wire on one end) to connect individual pins from the development board to a breadboard for pretty cheap.

    It depends on whether you want an accrual adapter, or not.
     
  9. takao21203

    Distinguished Member

    Apr 28, 2012
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    what works for me is to solder TQFP ICs to adapter, and then solder wires + components into the holes of the adapter PCB, usually a small proto PCB attached on one of the four sides.

    Some time ago, i soldered row headers into all pins and used PCB with connectors- it is just not worth it.
     
  10. JohnInTX

    Moderator

    Jun 26, 2012
    2,345
    1,028
    Take a look at STM32L-Discovery and STM32 Value Line Discovery for ARM if you want. I'm kind of a Microchip guy but these are dirt-cheap and they have similar variants for different ARMs. I think I paid <$20 for the pair.
     
  11. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
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    I wonder why you passed by Microchip's PIC32's? For around $200 (or less) you can get a great graphics board, use a PICkit 3 as a programmer, and get the free C++ compiler and be on your way.

    I've always liked Mikro's development boards.

    As far as the other manufacturers, I don't use them so I don't know.
     
  12. ajm113

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 19, 2011
    176
    5
    Microchip has a free C++ and C compiler?! When did this happen?! Who knows I may just use my old time favorite again just to start building stuff right away. When I first started with Microchip, I thought all the C compilers had to be paid for. Which is why I was asking for other MCU brands. Kinda makes me want to design my own prototype board now that uses a 32bit microcontroller. Only issue is figuring out how to get the smd onto a basic through hole prototype soldering pcb board.

    As far as I know lot of the pcb printing companies near me will charge an arm and a leg if I created my own from scratch just to use the thing for development.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2014
  13. takao21203

    Distinguished Member

    Apr 28, 2012
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    TQFP is not so difficult but TSSOP does not make so much fun, you have to inspect it carefully.

    Yes recently Microchip MPLABX became really useable and the compilers have seen many updates too.

    STM32 is very good value indeed- I have two boards here, one 8bit one 32bit + some 8bit chips. Downloaded the softwares and manuals recently and that would take you some hours.

    Have not done much with it- why relearn, MC stuff works for me and I am used to the IDE.

    The STM8 as such is quite tough- with a highly sophisticated touch pad library- you can browse the source and you'd wonder quite a bit.

    STM32 is a powerhouse- 170MHz, a gyro sensor, audio jjack and who knows what. The compilers are not free, they have a limit for the code size otherwise cost you some investment.
     
  14. ajm113

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 19, 2011
    176
    5
    Thanks for the tips tako21203! :)

    STM32 sounds like pretty nice hardware, I will have to look into it a bit more then I get the chance!
     
  15. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
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    I get decent double sided PCB's from places in China I find on EBay, 2x2" qty 10 for about $25 free shipping. 4x4" goes about double, takes 3-4 weeks to arrive.

    When throwing down a hand wired proto board again I hit China thru EBay. I've keep stock of adapter boards for all the popular sizes for SOIC, quad packs and the like. Leads come out on friendly 0.1" centers, and the boards have two patterns, one top another bottom. Dirt cheap with free shipping (2-3 weeks typical there).

    BTW I too just learned about the free C++ compiler. I've been using their free C compilers for years now but just saw the C++ package.
     
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