Looking for a MC starter kit

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Berk123

Joined Mar 4, 2016
2
Recently I was introduced to embedded systems at school. We used a 8051 and programmed it in assembler (Keil µvision). It was a development board with leds and an LCD. My teacher announced we will move on to use C. My intrest in MCs was sparked and I'm looking for my own kit. I found assembly to be fun and I wish to program with it for a while. I also found to 8051 instructionset rather limited. With all this in mind what starter kit would you advise? PIC looks fun but I don't know if you can program it in assembler. Also the starter kit shouldn't be too expensive (50-100€).
 

mcasale

Joined Jul 18, 2011
210
I would recommend the Arduino series of development boards. They are FAIRLY well documented with sample programs. You do not program in assembly language - C only. I looked at the PIC stuff, but it was much less well documented. I have successfully worked on a few Arduino projects by myself doing hardware and C programming.
 

dannyf

Joined Sep 13, 2015
2,197
Also the starter kit shouldn't be too expensive (50-100€).
Get an Arduino and send the rest of your money to me, :)

I think you will find C quite more enjoyable than assembly, particularly when you want to code for multiple platforms or on complex tasks.

Another option, if you want to explore, is those ARM chips. They are considerably more complex, and assembly programming is practically out of window on those guys.
 

NorthGuy

Joined Jun 28, 2014
611
Arduino is a toy. Easy and fun to play with. Useless otherwise.

You can use assembler or C with PICs. Microchip has free software. All you need is a programmer, breadboard and few chips. Not sure PIC's assembler is less limited than 8051. PICs are good because they have very good quality peripheral modules. PICs are very well documented. I guess what msacale wanted to say is that they're less popularized. The documentation is very technical, explains lots of details, but it does require time to study.
 

GopherT

Joined Nov 23, 2012
8,012
Recently I was introduced to embedded systems at school. We used a 8051 and programmed it in assembler (Keil µvision). It was a development board with leds and an LCD. My teacher announced we will move on to use C. My intrest in MCs was sparked and I'm looking for my own kit. I found assembly to be fun and I wish to program with it for a while. I also found to 8051 instructionset rather limited. With all this in mind what starter kit would you advise? PIC looks fun but I don't know if you can program it in assembler. Also the starter kit shouldn't be too expensive (50-100€).
Your question is like asking, "which religion is best". You will get every option imaginable - including, don't use Microcontrollers (the atheists view).
 

JohnInTX

Joined Jun 26, 2012
4,113
In the PIC world, a good starter is the Microchip Curiosity Development board. $20.00 US and includes an onboard debugger and programmer so you don't have to buy a PICkit to get started. Supports a variety of 8-bit PICs and also supports some Microelectronica (the MikroC folks) add-ons (Bluetooth etc.). Download MPLABX for the excellent and free MPASM assembler. The free version of XC8 and/or MikroC will also work on it. All you add is a USB cable.

More info: List of processors/software etc.

It's important to know that successful programming is less the particular platform you use and more in developing the skillset needed to express a problem in logical terms and develop some knowledge of how to turn that into a solution that you can implement and maintain. The particular processor you use is less important (within reason).

Good luck!
 
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shteii01

Joined Feb 19, 2010
4,644
Like you, my uC course used 8051 development board. Like you we did assembly first. Then we did C. The rest of the course was in C. We never touched assembly again.

My advice is not to buy anything right now. Experience a few weeks of C first. Then buy Arduino board, it is like 8 or 9 dollars: https://www.fasttech.com/product/1001700-arduino-compatible-uno-r3-rev3-development-board You will work in C.

If you decide to go back to assembly, Microchip has some interesting offerings in their PIC line and in their 8051 SST89E516RD line.
 

dannyf

Joined Sep 13, 2015
2,197
If you want to stay within 8051, C8051 from silabs is very good - and quite inexpensive. My favorite is C8051F350, with its 24-bit adc and loads of peripherals. It can run with pretty much anything more modern and then some.
 

dannyf

Joined Sep 13, 2015
2,197
In my view, there is very little reason to pick a (low end) pic over avr: the avrs have a far more consistent perioherals, vectored interrupts, hardware multiplier, and some with exceptional ADC (differential and with PGA). Not to mention the wide availability of boards (through arduino), free compiler, quality idea, and inexpensive and free programmers. Oh, a large user community and code base.

If you have to go with the pic, you may consider pic24, including dspic, chips. They are very nice but under marketed and under appreciated.
 

shteii01

Joined Feb 19, 2010
4,644
In my view, there is very little reason to pick a (low end) pic over avr: the avrs have a far more consistent perioherals, vectored interrupts, hardware multiplier, and some with exceptional ADC (differential and with PGA). Not to mention the wide availability of boards (through arduino), free compiler, quality idea, and inexpensive and free programmers. Oh, a large user community and code base.

If you have to go with the pic, you may consider pic24, including dspic, chips. They are very nice but under marketed and under appreciated.
It is the money.
Instead of spending 10 on Arduino board, they spend 20-40 on low end PIC.
 

dannyf

Joined Sep 13, 2015
2,197
It is the money.
Instead of spending 10 on Arduino board, they spend 20-40 on low end PIC.
Don't know about that.

An arduino uno/leonardo go for $5 - $10 and that's all you need to get started;

For the pic route, you need a programmer ($10 for pickit2 and $20 for pickit3), plus the chip itself.

I would say that cost-wise, it is arduino. Chip-wise, unless you need features in the newer pic chips, avr wins.
 

NorthGuy

Joined Jun 28, 2014
611
Arduino is a one-shot thing. You used it in a project, you need to buy another one.

A PIC programmer can debug, program and re-program hundreds of PICs, including on-chip debugging. PICs themselves are from $0.50 to $10 if you want something really powerful. The good thing, you don't need to decide up front - same programmer will work for all including the models which has not yet been released.

Comparing costs of these two is like saying: "Look, fish costs much less than a fishing rod. Cost-wise fish is better than a fishing rod." Never mind fishing rod may help you catch more fish than you can imagine.
 

shteii01

Joined Feb 19, 2010
4,644
Arduino is a one-shot thing. You used it in a project, you need to buy another one.

A PIC programmer can debug, program and re-program hundreds of PICs, including on-chip debugging. PICs themselves are from $0.50 to $10 if you want something really powerful. The good thing, you don't need to decide up front - same programmer will work for all including the models which has not yet been released.

Comparing costs of these two is like saying: "Look, fish costs much less than a fishing rod. Cost-wise fish is better than a fishing rod." Never mind fishing rod may help you catch more fish than you can imagine.
You are likely right. The way I interpreted OP is that they were just getting in, meaning that they did not have multiple projects to build. They were going to assemble one thing, make it work, disassemble, assemble another thing, make it work and so on.
 

NorthGuy

Joined Jun 28, 2014
611
What's preventing you from using the arduino to burn the bootloader + user code into a fresh AVR?
You mean making Arduino into a programmer? Sure possible. Can actually program anything - AVRs, EEPROM, PICs too. Although, it'll be very lousy programmer - very slow, no debugging. Would you pay $10 for such programmer? There are lots of crappy programmers on eBay which cost less and probably aren't any worse that the one you would make of Arduino.
 
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