Need some advise from the experts

Discussion in 'Embedded Systems and Microcontrollers' started by scottjge, Jan 22, 2009.

  1. scottjge

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jan 22, 2009
    3
    0
    Hi, I am scottjge and I stumbled on to your forum while google'ing for some advise. I am in hope that someone can steer me straight.

    First I must let you know that I am a newbie to microcontrollers and I have limited knowledge in programming in C and in Basic. It may even be two late for me to learn, but my question is ;

    I would like to learn to program microcontroller's but everywhere I look, there isn't a whole lot of good information. I would like to buy a programmer and a book that talks to a beginner to teach them how to program a microcontroller in a given language from the ground up. I also need some advise on which microcontroller to choose from. Eq; Pic, AVR, Motorola, Basic Stamp, etc.... the only requirement that I have for a micro is the availability and being real reasonable in price. I also need some advise on a programmer for that micro that doesn't run into hundreds of dollars just to get started.

    I asked a question on a forum a year ago and they told me to learn C. So I bought a book to learn C. Well, now everything that I learned isn't necessarily useful on a microcontroller and I am confused. I am looking for a book that will take you thru programming a microcontroller with C and teach you about the timer, interrups, and all the things that look foreign to me, even after learning some C. I would like a book that starts form the ground and works up to the finished product.

    One other problem that I am facing is my new computer. It has Vista X64 on it and I am having a hell of a time trying to find any programming software that will work on it, not to mention the fact that it doesn't have a parallel port which most programmers must have. So I need something in the USB line.

    I don't know where to go next. I am disabled and thought that this was a great idea and a great hobby to pass my time away. I am no spring chicken either and that may be a hinder to my success.

    Please be honest, if It is something that I may be better off to forget, I will accept that. If there is something out there that could help me, I would like to know that too.

    Like I said, I just want to do this as a hobby and maybe make a few toys.
    Sorry for such a long post and I want to thank everyone for taking the time to read it.

    Scottjge
     
  2. hgmjr

    Moderator

    Jan 28, 2005
    9,030
    214
    I believe that if you seriously want to learn a new skill then age will be no obstacle.

    Microcontrollers are not a walk in the park for someone new to the subject but it sounds like you are motivated. If you were not you would not have invested any time to study and learn C-language.

    The two most popular players in the microcontroller world are PICs and AVRs. I selected the AVR after investigating into the two architectures. I liked ATMELs approach to their microcontroller. At the outset, ATMEL decided that it would make its programming tools FREE to the public. That decision alone would have won me over but I was impressed with their approach that made all of the members of the AVR 8-bit device family based on the same core design.

    You expressed concern over the need for something that would run on your VISTA operating system. I have not tried installing AVRSTUDIO4 on a VISTA machine but it will cost you nothing to find that out since the software is free. AVRSTUDIO4 is the assembly language Integrated Design Environment (IDE). I would suggest you test drive the software on your VISTA machine and see if you have any difficult with it. Once you have AVRSTUDIO4 running on your computer then you can load the FREE C-language plug-in called WINAVR.

    If the software runs then let us know and we can suggest hardware.

    hgmjr
     
  3. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
    6,960
    145
    I cannot vouch for AVRSTUDIO4, but I know the C18 compiler from Microchip for the PIC18 series of microcontrollers works with Vista, you may need to hunt down the USB drivers (I can't remember if I did). If you are worried about other applications running on Vista, you can right-click the installer, go to Properties, go to the Compatibility tab and select a previous version of Windows with which to run the installer in compatibility mode (most like Windows XP SP2) - it doesn't work in all cases, might I add, but it does work for some applications that do not run in non-compatibility mode.

    Dave
     
  4. scottjge

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jan 22, 2009
    3
    0
    Thanks you for your replies and advice.

    I installed AVR Studio and everything seemed alright so I continued on and installed WinAVR. That too, installed with no problem. Both programs seem to work properly. So I quess that problem has been solved.

    Now for a programmer and a good book on programming uComputers in C.

    Thanks again for you help,

    Scottjge
     
  5. hgmjr

    Moderator

    Jan 28, 2005
    9,030
    214
    That is an encouraging first step.

    The next thing I would recommend is that you go to www.avrfreaks.net and join that forum. Someone there will be able to direct you to a good resource for learning to program AVRs and will also be able to recommend several possible development boards as well as a suitable USB programmer solution.

    hgmjr
     
  6. Dave

    Retired Moderator

    Nov 17, 2003
    6,960
    145
    Surely Amtel, like Microchip, provide resources for C-programming specific to a particular device? I would recommend that would be the best starting point.

    Dave
     
  7. scottjge

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jan 22, 2009
    3
    0
    OK, will sigh up right away. Thank you so much for your advise and expertise.

    Many many thanks,
    scottjge
     
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