Microprocessor recomendations

Thread Starter

Johnny Nelson

Joined Aug 19, 2011
What microprocessor would you recommend for beginners wanting to learn about programming and using these? What programming language and programming software is easiest to learn?


Joined Nov 22, 2005
If you are totally new to microprocessors and programming, I would suggest the PICAXE system. For the cost only of the chip (around $5 depending on supplier) you can get started. All programming is done on your pc, so there is no development board or programmer to buy. The language is Basic, easily learned.

The chips are very capable of teaching all aspects of microprocessor use, and the step up to more complex work is easily made.


Joined Nov 12, 2008
Hi Johnny,

There are a handful of languages and many more platforms by which to choose. The question is how much do you want to invest in it in both time and money?

I have zero experience with it, but many people are turning to Arduino which uses C programming and has tons of ready-made modules for testing different things from LEDs to accelerometers.


Sparkfun offers several versions and modules:


If you're planning to make a career out of it, I'd look at PICs from Microchip. You can program these with C, Basic, or, gasp, assembly. I can provide more info with books, websites, etc. if you let me know you're interested.

Personally, and only because I started with them, I'd recommend the Basic Stamp II from Parallax. You program these in Basic which is a great, relatively simple programming language. RadioShack sells a good starter kit:


or go to Parallax directly:


They offer tons of free support including a forum like this one, documentation is all free and downloadable, and they do a great job explaining electronics along the way.

Basic is easier to learn than C, at least in my opinion. You'll be up and running quicker. I only know what I've experienced and I haven't seen it all by a long shot, so read and look into everything people post here and decide what will work best for you.

Good luck!


Joined Jan 28, 2005
I agree with elec-mech's recommendation of the Arduino. An Arduino Uno board will get you up and running quickly. You will only need a PC that has a USB port to program the Arduino. There are also tons of application libraries ready for you to use.

Having the hardware ready to go means you can focus on learning to write programs. The language is C which is pretty easy and powerful and there are lots of examples to draw on.

Once you get comfortable with Arduino, then you can explore the other micros out there like PICs and AVRs.



Joined Sep 20, 2005
I would recommend learning assembler first, my favourit being ATmega series from Atmel. When you are able to flash a simple led through the use of assembler is the time to move on to C. I never tried C++ in a microcontroller, but I think it would use much more resources than a nice C code would, especially RAM.


Joined Oct 2, 2009
By now you would have found it totally bewildering and confusing. There is no single perfect recommendation. If you are planning on becoming a computer engineer, my choice would be Freescale MC9S08QG8, Freescale HC11 or Atmel ATtiny2313 and assembler programming.

If you wish to explore as a hobby, Parallex BASIC STAMP is a good place to begin.


Joined Apr 7, 2010
I don't code on a steady basis. Whenever I picked up my Arduino, I had to relearn C all over again. That was a real PITA. OTOH, With Picaxe and its semi easy Basic, I'm up and running very quickly. With their new range of 40Mhz X2 parts, there's more than enough horsepower for my needs.
The last time I looked, an Arduino is $35, a Paralax BS even more, and a little but powerful Picaxe 08M is $2.95. You'll feel much better blowing up a $3 part as opposed to a $35 part.
If you want an Arduino, I'll sell you mine for $20 plus shipping. Its been used for about 6 hours. PM me if you're interested.


Joined Jul 4, 2011
Netduino an Fez Panda are both like Arduino but both use Microsoft C#. For mist things, I prefer them over Arduino due to language.