Beginner questions

Thread Starter


Joined May 31, 2011
I'm new to electronics but am interested in learning about microcontrollers for fun.

I have been looking around online and am trying to understand the best way to get started.

I have an Arduino and have a little experience working with that, however, I would like something a little more detailed in terms of learning excactly how things work behind the scenes, so to speak.

I would like to look at data sheets, use assembly language and basically get started.

I have a budget of $200 for this. I would appreciate any tips, links to vendors/products or general advice.

It looks like I need to first decide on a microcontroller...someone recommended an 8051 as they are more simple?

I would then need to buy a starter kit (or development board?). I looked at MikroElektronics and they look great, however, they may be a little more than I need?


Joined Feb 19, 2009
PICKit 2 + 44 pin starter board. PICKit3 is fine, just not as many features, but it will support more higher end processors (16 and 32 bit) from microchip. Cost: $50, one time purchase for all the pain-free programming you want to do. For $25, you can get a clone, which you will spend 2 weeks on the forum trying to get to work, then giving up and throwing everything away. So I'd strongly suggest a Microchip PICKit 2 from

Compiiler: Free Basic or C from either Mikro C/Basic or Sourceboost Basic or BoostC

Dev boards aren't much use. TAP-28 or similar so you aren't locked out of hardware options.

Honestly, I start a lot of uC project by making a 5V supply on a breadboard, plugging in a PIC, such as the 16F1827, running the 2 programming wires, and adding stuff as I go.

Lots of PIC support around here, and a little bit of AVR, not much Arduino. More hardware and high speed type projects tend to get made. That, or the other end of the spectrum, such as blinking an LED, lots of H-Bridge motor control topics. That covers it in my tired brain right now.