Microcontroller and Language for project?

Discussion in 'Embedded Systems and Microcontrollers' started by Nrets, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. Nrets

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jan 31, 2008
    Hello all,

    I am new to microcontrollers and need some direction.

    I would like to create a circuit that will measure temperature (and humidity if possible) and write the data to a compact flash card. I'd prefer it be run on a 9V battery and have a decent battery life. If writing to a CF card is too complicated then USB to PC is fine.

    So my questions:

    1) Is this a feasible project for a beginner?
    2) What Microcontroller should I use?
    3) What language should I employ in my project? Assembly language or C? I know some other languages and I am comfortable learning either one.
    4) Should I purchase a development board or not?

    Quite honestly my experience with circuits is minimal. I've programmed BASIC STAMPS before, but that doesn't really count. My plan was to follow a tutorial on reading/displaying temperature and just modifying it to write the temperature to a CF card.

    Anyways, any help is appreciated!

    - Bryan
  2. scubasteve_911

    Senior Member

    Dec 27, 2007

    I recommend the PSoC microcontroller by Cypress Microsystems. It's so easy, an ape can use it. You can buy their in-system serial programmer for cheap from digikey, it's called the Miniprog and it interfaces through the USB.

    You can download their PSoC designer software free of charge, but it does not include a C compiler. You would need to pay ~150$ for it, but you can write it in ASM if you want. You have access to on-board ADCs that can read your sensors, which are simple to use. Furthermore, there is an interface to a FLASH memory card which is extremely easy to use. You need to have the C compiler working to use the SD card interface though.

    You can breadboard a lot of it, except for the SD card interface. If you want, you can exploit the on-board switching controller to take your 9V down to a useable voltage level, which will help make it last a bit longer. www.psocdeveloper.com is a great place to ask questions about the PSoCs

  3. h.d

    Active Member

    Oct 22, 2007
    you can use PIC 16F877A
    its usable for that applications and some how easy to learn,
    you can programming it with good range of lang.(c,basic,assembly,V.B,V.net)
    and the MPLAB software is free on net.
  4. Nrets

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jan 31, 2008
    Thanks for the replies. I now have a new question:

    Are there any good simulators for Windows (XP or Vista) that I can use to test my PIC projects before I go purchasing anything? I know at the University they use some sort of circuitry software, which I believe is a simulator, and it's installed on nearly all the schools computers. I'll have to check to see what software it is tomorrow and I'll let you guys know.
  5. nanovate

    Distinguished Member

    May 7, 2007
    For PIC MPLAB has a simulator.
    For AVR AVR Studio also has a simulator.
  6. scubasteve_911

    Senior Member

    Dec 27, 2007
    Another one on the PIC microcontroller wagon :(
  7. Arm_n_Legs

    Active Member

    Mar 7, 2007
    You may like to try the Silicon Labs 8051-based processor. The kits comes complete with a evaluation board and Keil (Eval version) C compiler. The C8051F120 comes with a onchip temperature sensor and ADC. Instead of storing the data on a CF card, you can also store in on the chip flash memory.