Choosing a basic microcontroller

Discussion in 'Embedded Systems and Microcontrollers' started by JMath, Apr 2, 2010.

  1. JMath

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 2, 2010

    ECE intern here. I've been assigned to pick out a microcontroller for use in a laser box. All it needs to do is input laser current, laser power, and a photodetector voltage. These will all be provided by a laser controller board, so it's simple A/D. It then needs to display these values on a display which they've already picked out. My supervisors would also like to be able to collect this data via USB while the laser is running.

    I really only have experience with Freescale's 68HC11 in my university courses, so I'm just jumping head first into the microcontroller world. I think I will need a development board and a way to connect it to my computer. Cost is not an issue. It looks like a development kit would be the way to go. Any suggestions?

    Edit: Mods if you could please move this to Embedded Systems and Microcontrollers
    Last edited: Apr 2, 2010
  2. beenthere

    Retired Moderator

    Apr 20, 2004
    So moved.

    One extremely critical parameter is the precision of the A to D conversion. Most microcontrollers have no more than 10 bits of resolution. If you need better resolution, then an external A to D may be the way to go.
  3. rjenkins

    AAC Fanatic!

    Nov 6, 2005
    Have a look at the Microchip DSPIC series,

    Some of those have good resolution, fast ADCs and also USB support built in.
  4. t06afre

    AAC Fanatic!

    May 11, 2009
    An important question is. Have they done MCU design before, and do they have any development system available. If not what kind of budget will you get? Before you start start any project it is important to get picture of both technical and human resources you can use.
    Also a tip. If you do not have done any USB development before, the project may be to complicated for you to do. But FTDI has many solutions for RS232 to USB conversion. This way your MCU only need a UART for your project to work. This will be a good solution if your data rate to the PC is not to high
  5. russ_hensel

    Distinguished Member

    Jan 11, 2009
    Use an arduino with c. Solves a bunch of the issues here. Is 10 bit a to d.
    Microchip gives you more options, but in many cases too many.
  6. t06afre

    AAC Fanatic!

    May 11, 2009
    If this is an instrument that only will be made in a small serie. I can not see anything wrong in using an arduino unit perhaps with shield unit(s). In small numbers this will be the most cost effective. It will be no hardware to make only programming. Or at least very little
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2010
  7. Tahmid

    Active Member

    Jul 2, 2008
    The PIC18,24 have USB capability. 18F has 10-bit ADC and some have USB capability. And some 24F have 12-bit ADC. AT90USB can support USB and has 10-bit ADC and ATxmega has 12-bit ADC.

    Hope this helps.
  8. JMath

    Thread Starter New Member

    Apr 2, 2010
    Thanks for the responses. I think I'm going to propose using an Arduino unit, it seems like it's the best option as myself and my employer are relatively new to MCUs.