micro controlers

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by erich_7719, Mar 4, 2011.

  1. erich_7719

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Oct 14, 2009
    I understand how to program Excel through VBA, that about it for my programming capabilities.

    With that said which would you say would be easier to learn an Arduino or something like a PIC16... PICkit 2. What I am wanting to do is to control a frog tank in all aspects temp, humidity, water level... you get the point. So I figure that would be easy either way I go

    Where my question comes in is I want it to communicate on my network to talk to Excel about what the water level is, the temperature is, humidity...

    Any suggestions on to what to read up on or things to consider would help a lot.

    Thank you in advance for your help and time.
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2011
  2. mcgyvr

    AAC Fanatic!

    Oct 15, 2009
    I just started a year or so ago with micros.. I couldn't be happier with the Arduino. $40 bucks and your are up and running.
  3. erich_7719

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Oct 14, 2009
    Thank you mcgyvr.

    Are the scripting languages similar; in the means that you don't have to go back to school and get a degree to understand the language?
  4. RiJoRI

    Well-Known Member

    Aug 15, 2007
    The Arduino has no scripting language; the IDE has a C/C++ interface. Nuts and Volts magazine was carrying a series of articles by Joe of SmileyMicros.com. It was C for the real beginner, and in it he switched from the AVR Butterfly to the Arduino. Shortly thereafter, I let my subscription lapse.

    P.S. -- there is a WORLD of difference between PC languages and uC languages. Just consider the memory size differences!!
  5. someonesdad

    Senior Member

    Jul 7, 2009
    If you want to talk to the device over the network, I'd recommend taking a look at a single board computer that comes with analog and digital IO capabilities. For example, here's a device that probably costs under $300 (note the frequent use of the word "optional", which means they'll be nicking you in many different ways :p) that could run Linux and has the requisite digital and analog IO. While that sounds like a lot of money compared to an under $5 microcontroller, realize that there would be a lot of work and other hardware/software required to bring up a microcontroller operating on the network.

    If you choose to go this SBC route, I'd recommend that you study the web carefully and ask folks for experiences with particular vendors. I used a Rabbit board about 20 years ago that work OK for my needs, so that would be one vendor I'd recommend checking out. There are numerous other vendors. Realize that they mostly sell into industrial markets, so the prices will probably be higher than you'd expect.

    When you winnow down the choices to a few, it would be worthwhile calling the vendors and explaining what you want to do and ask them if your choice is suitable, along with any options or ancillary equipment that would be required to get things working.
  6. tracecom

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 16, 2010
    PICAXE μC's start under $3 each, have bootstrap code pre-loaded, and the programming software is free. Check them out at http://www.rev-ed.co.uk/picaxe/.

    A lot of people look down their noses at the PICAXE, but I like them.
  7. jeffjohnvol


    Oct 15, 2008
    If you are more comfortable with Basic (VBA) you may want to consider the parallax basic stamp. Its a little less bang for your buck, but it has the basic language.

    Personally, I love Arduinos, very easy to use and a great knowledgebase out there.
  8. erich_7719

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Oct 14, 2009
    Think you all for your sugestions and inputs. I will look into the information you provided.