Selection of microcontrollers for my automation project

Discussion in 'Embedded Systems and Microcontrollers' started by circuitmav, Jul 3, 2016.

  1. circuitmav

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jul 3, 2016
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    Hello All,

    I am new to electronics and have a mechanical engineering background. I want to make a home automation system for myself but I don't want to use something like Arduino instead I want something more robust and cost effective than Arduino which also help me gain more knowledge. I have looked at microcontrollers from TI and PIC.

    I am just looking for some words to put into google so that I can understand what else is out there that I can use for my project. Any suggestions please?

    Thank you.
     
  2. tracecom

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  3. KMoffett

    AAC Fanatic!

    Dec 19, 2007
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    I too like the PICAXEs. They fall off on very high speed operations compared to non-interpreted programming micros. But that doesn't sound like it would be an issue for you. A large part of selection is how many inputs and outputs you will need. And can you distribute some I/O operations to smaller micros around your system, being poled by a master control micro.
    http://www.picaxe.com/
    http://www.picaxeforum.co.uk/


    Ken
     
  4. circuitmav

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jul 3, 2016
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    Thank you for the suggestions
     
  5. OBW0549

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    I wouldn't dismiss Arduino so quickly; for a beginner, it can be a good place to start as it offers a very gentle learning curve and a relatively painless way to get your feet wet. Arduinos are very easy to use, there is a ton of free software available on the 'net, and outfits such as Adafruit offer oodles of useful hardware peripherals such as sensors, actuators and wireless communication devices. Sparkfun does, too.

    My recommendation would be to start with Arduino and then move on to something more powerful after you've gained some experience.
     
  6. MaxHeadRoom

    Expert

    Jul 18, 2013
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    There is also an extremely large amount of information and sample routines from Picmicro itself, Mechatronics circuits and routines for example, to various web sites.
    Home automation is a little vague, another possible option is a Smart Relay depending on the system requirements.
    Has power and I/O already configured and comes with a real-time clock.
    Max.
     
  7. Papabravo

    Expert

    Feb 24, 2006
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    My advice to you is not to consider this a one shot proposition. It might be your third or fourth choice that gets you where you want to go. You'll get there faster if you just pick one and dive in.
     
  8. m zaid

    Member

    Jan 9, 2016
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    Yea, maybe you already found some reference design for your application.. then I'd add just don't give up. But why not lay down a few.
     
  9. circuitmav

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jul 3, 2016
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    @OBW0549 I already have tried arduino, for a home automation system with multiple nodes I don't think Arduino would be very cost effective.

    I think I will dive in with the PICAXE, I have found a decent amount of information on this website for what I want to do (involves IoT and PICAXE). Are there any free websites other than Thingspeak where you can store simple text files for data?
     
  10. OBW0549

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    Mar 2, 2015
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    OK. I wasn't thinking so much of cost effectiveness as I was about easy of learning. If cost is a major factor in what you're doing, then you certainly have a point there-- Arduinos aren't cheap.

    I don't have any experience with websites like that, but I Googled on "alternatives to Thingspeak" and a whole bunch of stuff came up. There's probably something usable there.
     
    circuitmav likes this.
  11. Sensacell

    Well-Known Member

    Jun 19, 2012
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    There are so many options- and they all have strengths and pitfalls.

    Generally, the ease of getting started will be inversely proportional to the cost of the deployed part.
    Just dive in and start learning.
     
  12. dannyf

    Well-Known Member

    Sep 13, 2015
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    It is very difficult to justify going picaxe over pic.

    And it is difficult to justify pic over avr/arduino given the board and code availability.
     
  13. m zaid

    Member

    Jan 9, 2016
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    Indeed it's a dilemma for product designers, and when you're only a student or hobbyist (like me)with limited resources. You have a good idea and already considering implementation for mass customization; about cost effectiveness etc. You wan't to use the the cheapest solutions but also wan't to prove that it works. These efficient solutions as detailed in their datasheet are sometimes hard to prototype being SMT for instance. Hence you're stuck to be using development boards with specific parts. Like the ArduinoWiFiShield maybe or maybe not it is using the most cost effective solutions for the custom IoT application.
    I don't know, maybe ask finance to fund research for the better cost effective solution when they ask for how much does it cost?
     
  14. atferrari

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 6, 2004
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    Home automation system, (whatever that means) now or when approaching the end (those ample projects rarely have a well defined end) , will take more than two of whatever he chooses thus is better to consider the eventual costs.

    And an additional concern: if he dives in by building a sensor or actuator first, better to ensure that it would be easily interfaced to the main control board. Would this be also designed from scratch?

    Not a simple task I would say.
     
  15. atferrari

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    His wife to agree on the expenses, you mean?:confused:
     
  16. m zaid

    Member

    Jan 9, 2016
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    Besides the purpose of specific technology learning and integration, I thought about the other purpose of prototypes: milestone prototypes. If you need to just demonstrate the application, diving with any kind of solution is fine :p. Why else is TS redesigning?
    If it's for the first design and is for a more simple personal and hobby use, I thought Arduinos was already cheap. Designing and etching your own board is hard while breadboards are unreliable though you learn more.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2016
  17. circuitmav

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jul 3, 2016
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    I have the PICAXE programmer and cable now. Learning to work with something different like PICAXE will take time and I want to occupy myself so I don't mind.

    @atferrari
    I want the main board to communicate/interface with the actuator wirelessly, telling it to be on(1) or off(0). I have looked into some products like nordic nRF24L01+ but there isn't many tutorials on how to use it with PICAXE. Seems like its not as easy as plug in, code and it does what you want. I will look at nordic data sheet later to see how they work. I might just end up using Arduino as the main board and the receivers with PICAXE in them.

    I looked at this tutorial:http://www.allaboutcircuits.com/projects/make-a-wireless-thermometer-with-picaxe/

    It shows how to use TX and RX modules but is it possible that one TX module communicates with multiple RX modules? Would it be possible if all the RX received the data but only one of them reacted depending on what data is coming in?

    e.g. if I use serout to tell the TX to send "Switch01=1" only switch 1 turns on and the rest stay off?

    is there a better way to do this?

    Also the specification of the TX/RX modules say they are able to transmit 40m indoors. Does this mean the TX will be able to communicate with RX upstairs (closed doors, carpeted floors) or should I look at something better?

    Thank you.
     
  18. circuitmav

    Thread Starter New Member

    Jul 3, 2016
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    What do you mean by "SMT" ? :oops:
     
  19. KeepItSimpleStupid

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    SMT = Surface Mount; also know as SMD or Surface Mounted Device
    Surface mount means no holes in the PCB for things such as resistors, IC's etc.

    ==

    Home automation means a lot more than just one tiny project. See: http://www.openremote.org/display/HOME/OpenRemote
     
  20. atferrari

    AAC Fanatic!

    Jan 6, 2004
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    Sorry but I know no details of how PICAXE works.

    Just a cursory read of the Nordic data sheet shows that interfacing to it with a micro tends to be simple. Had I to do it, I will go the PIC route. But that is me.

    Do not waste too much of your time posing here questions. First read the datasheet and then search for implementations in the Web. I cannot help you on that.

    Buena suerte.
     
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