Microcontroller or Microprocessor for this project

Thread Starter

curiousaboutcircuits

Joined Mar 3, 2010
13
Hey everyone, I am working on a project to accomplish one thing:

I am building a touchscreen LCD display that responds to messages send from a website. All it really needs to do is connect wirelessly to the web and login to the website and display messages. The touchscreen feature will be used to click on the messages and click Yes and No to messages received.

I am not really sure if microcontroller could accomplish this. I've seen some amazing PIC projects online, but I am still confused as to what the limitations of microcontrollers are versus microprocessors. At what point does the project become too complex for microcontrollers to handle for one to use a microprocessor?

Does my project require a microcontroller or a microprocessor?

Thanks everyone,
curiousaboutcircuits
 

SgtWookie

Joined Jul 17, 2007
22,226
The PIC16F877A is obsolete. The PIC16F887 is it's replacement.

However, you need a uC that will support a TCP/IP protocol stack, and that's going to take something in the 18F range or higher.

Start by searching on the Microchip site for TCP/IP documentation.
 

Thread Starter

curiousaboutcircuits

Joined Mar 3, 2010
13
Thank you for your reply. Do you think that microcontrollers are more than feasible for me to create a device of this sort?

It needs to receive data from a website and display it on an LCD, and send data back. Speed of this transaction is of utmost importance. Thank you. I really appreciate your help. I am completely new to this.
 

SgtWookie

Joined Jul 17, 2007
22,226
I suppose it depends on your capability to select the appropriate uC and create the necessary hardware/software to support the functions required.

Start by creating a detailed list of everything required of the project.

The selection of the uC will then be defined by the project requirements.

If you still have too broad of a selection of uC's, you have not narrowed your project requirements enough.
 

Thread Starter

curiousaboutcircuits

Joined Mar 3, 2010
13
SgtWookie,

I haven't been able to get an idea of the scope of uC's abilities. I am under the assumption that most touchscreen devices use uP, and not uC, so I am wondering if I should start looking into uP and avoid uC altogether.

The function I have posted above is all it needs to do, and I feel like what is offered out there in the market for me (Kontra) to purchase are too expensive and too powerful for this seemingly simple function. Do you think you could give me an idea of the scope of uC and when uPs generally take over? Thank you.
 

SgtWookie

Joined Jul 17, 2007
22,226
The boundaries between uC's and uP's are getting blurrier by the day.

Microcontrollers are constantly evolving, with more onboard RAM, EEprom/flash memory space, registers, I/O ports and speed enhancements. There are now 16-bit and 32-bit uC's that have quite a bit of speed/power.

You are the one who will have to make the decision on which way to go. uC's are by their very definition highly integrated, which helps to keep costs low.
 

retched

Joined Dec 5, 2009
5,208
The arduino may be a good place for you to start. They have the ability to do what you want. and for $30, you can have chip, programmer, and tons of free online help and circuits to choose from.

A often seen project in arduino.cc is a twitter poster. It reads the twitter feed and displays it on a LED matrix. There are hundreds of designs like this. Circuits and programs that read your email and text them to your cell phone.

This will be a very good start for you to accomplish your goals and educate you at a speed you can control.

http://arduino.cc

You can use your computer to communicate the TCP/IP info to the chip or you can get a inexpensive ethernet 'shield'. Shields are plug in expansions for the development board. Very easy and a lot to choose from. They also have a touch screen shield to help do what you want.
 

Thread Starter

curiousaboutcircuits

Joined Mar 3, 2010
13
Thank you everyone for your inputs. I was looking at some of the 32bit PICs with the ZeroG chip that Microchip sells. I will definitely look into Arduino. If there's any more input, please let me know. Thank you very much
 

Thread Starter

curiousaboutcircuits

Joined Mar 3, 2010
13
Hello Everyone,
I was hoping to get another input from you guys. I've been researching about uCs and have noticed that arm9 and arm11 are widely used in the industry whereas pic32s don't seem to have gained much traction. Do you guys have any idea why? I am wondering what makrs arm9 and arm11 much more attractive to these companies over pic32s. Thanks.
 

SgtWookie

Joined Jul 17, 2007
22,226
The PIC32 line is relatively new; within the last year or two.

The ARM9 and ARM11 have been around a number of years. The architecture difference between the ARM9 and ARM11 is not huge.

With PICs, there are a lot of variations between various uC's, even in the same class. This is criticized by many, but the changes do make a difference in the cost of the uC. If many thousands (or millions) of units are going to be produced, the extra time required by the engineers/programmers for the 'learning curve' can be amortized over many more units.
 

Thread Starter

curiousaboutcircuits

Joined Mar 3, 2010
13
I see. I thought that I might have to learn how to program ARM9 or 11 over PIC32. Still trying to understand what is suitable for this project.

Sgtwookie,
I've received an email from microchip saying that PIC32s support QVGA, but not VGA or higher resolution. Does that mean that there is no way for me to implement this project using a larger touchscreen? QVGA screens are all much smaller than what Im going for. I need to use a touchscreen that is at least 10in, and the ones in that range are VGA. Do normal touchscreen monitors with DB9 connectors not work with PIC32s?
 
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