Moving past arduino

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by stoopkid, May 22, 2012.

  1. stoopkid

    Thread Starter Member

    Mar 3, 2011
    I'm interested in moving beyond arduino with microcontrollers. Particularly something compact and low power. I'm aware of arduino tiny, but I know nothing about AVR programming and I'd like to start. Would my sparkfun pocket avr programmer work? What specific chip should I look at?

  2. MrChips


    Oct 2, 2009
    What you mean is you wish to work with the bare bones chip and native code and not be tied into any specific sw package. The Arduino system allows you to program DIP chips which can be plugged into a socket on the target system. It is more convenient to leave the chip on the target board (especially if it is in SMD package) and use an In-System-Programming (ISP) header connector. Every modern microcontroller manufacturer has gone this route.

    What you really need to do is select a project and then choose the MCU and IDE.
    Atmel, Freescale, Microchip and Texas Instruments are just some of many MCU brands to choose from.
  3. maxpower097

    Well-Known Member

    Feb 20, 2009
    Just check out smaller AVR dev kits for the stuff you want to do. I always reccoment dev kits for beginners because the good ones come wiht code examples and schematics so you can see how everything is wired up. Then finally get you some books. Their your best friend. When you do a project you tend to use numerous books depending on what your doing. I actually plan on getting a 10 inch tablet just for my datasheets.

    Or on the other side you could go with PIC. and follow the same instructions. Each has small advantages and disadvantages to each but theres really nothing you can do with one you can't do with the other. I do like PIC because of the programmer and IDE though. But AVR tends to be more beginner friendly, and backwards compatible.

    But before you start get a good grasp on Bits, Bytes, words, registers, etc.. A small EE dictionary would be a good start. That held me up in the beginning learning to think of everything in Bits and Bytes. 1's and 0's.

    Something like this but pic a less powerful chip if you want. If you see the pins outside the chip those are for PIM's so you can plug in different chips on the same board.
    Last edited: May 23, 2012
  4. MrChips


    Oct 2, 2009
    Shop around and purchase a low cost dev kit or starter kit made by the manufacturer.
  5. skinner89

    New Member

    Jul 18, 2011
    I noticed you said something low power. This MCU is designed primarily for low power applications and there seems to be an abundance of resources for getting started. It comes with 2 MCUs, Programmer / Debugger, USB cord, and all the software for $4.30 shipped. Quite a deal

    I just got one and am now trying to get a better understanding of electronics as I only have a programming / computer architecture background.
  6. vpoko


    Jan 5, 2012
    I've never used the Sparkfun AVR programmer and maybe it works great, but I'd recommend an official programmer from Atmel. I use the AVRISP mkII ($50) and it works great.

    You'll need a few other components like external crystals (optional but necessary to run at full speed and for a more stable clock), capacitors, and a voltage regulator IC, but it's very easy to build. I'd only been playing with the Arduino for a few weeks when I decided to go that route and didn't have much trouble at all.

    Here's a tutorial for building your own Arduino on a breadboard out of an AVR chip and a few other parts: It includes things like a reset button, LED, and USB port, which aren't strictly necessary. Note that programming in AVR Studio will also be a bit different from programming in the Arduino environment. Groups of pins are controlled using port registers, Arduino library functions won't be available, and I'm sure a few other things are different as well, but the learning curve isn't that steep if you've had any success with an Arduino.