What's the best Microcontroller kit to use for a ROOKIE

Discussion in 'Programmer's Corner' started by prowler_sn, Sep 2, 2011.

  1. prowler_sn

    Thread Starter New Member

    Sep 2, 2011
    hi there, Im new to this forum and in the microcontroller world. I would like to know, what is a good Microcontroller kit to start with to learn the basics. Im basically trying to learn how to control stepper motor using a MC for a personal project/hobby. Please help.

    Price Range: $50-$100
    preferred manufac: Atmel AVR? ( i heard they have LOTS of info online about them but there are SOOO many of them!!)
    Software: I plan to use C lingo :)

    THANK YOU for the help in advance!
  2. nucleargungus


    Apr 6, 2009
    Arduino by far.... the arduino and hackaday forums have literally hundreds of examples and amazonn has dozens of books and an arduino is only $30.
  3. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
    Since I'm not a Atmel guy here's an alternative: I'd look into a Part Number : DV164131 - PICkit 3 Debug Express

    For 70 bucks you get:

    • PICkit 3 Debugger/Programmer
    • PICkit 3 Users Guide
    • A series of 12 lessons on assembly programming that cover I/O, A/D converters, timers, interrupts, and data tables (All source code files are provided)
    • A Debugging Tutorial on using the PICkit 3 as a debugger with the MPLAB IDE
    • Microchips FREE MPLAB IDE software and C Compiler for a complete code development environment
    The device comes on a nice protoboard, you just plug in the PicKit and off you go, program or debug from your PC: And by debug I mean step thru your code from your PC on your target hardware.

    The free C compiler if first rate. The device on the board is a very advanced PIC18F45K20 which can run a PWM thru 4 outputs (though I'm not sure if that's what your stepper needs).
  4. t06afre

    AAC Fanatic!

    May 11, 2009
    If you really want to look into microcontroller programming. Get a real programmer/debugger unit. And not some Arduino unit. Here I think a PICKIT 3 with the debug express bundle will give more for the money. Than some Atmel AVR kit in the same price range. If you have some electronics store near you. Check which brands of MCU they stock. However in the end. Microchip and Atmel AVR is quite equal. So it is not that important which brand you end up with.
  5. MMcLaren

    Distinguished Member

    Feb 14, 2010
    For $4.30, the TI MSP430 LaunchPad is a relatively inexpensive way to get your feet wet.


    It features a built-in USB Programmer and Debugger and you write C or assembly language programs using the free Code Composer Studio or IAR Workbench IDE (Integrated Development Environment) program.

    I could post a schematic and sample C program if you'd like to see what that looks like.

    Regards, Mike
  6. jwilk13


    Jun 15, 2011
    I'm a huge proponent of the PICKit 3 with the PIC18F45K20 demo board that Ernie was describing. I think he and I have both recommended it multiple times here on this forum. My only experience with C had been a course called "Engineering Problem Solving with C" while I was in school, so my C knowledge was very limited. I bought the PICKit 3 with very little experience in the microcontroller world and had it blasting out PWM signals controlled by the A/D inputs within a week. I doubt you'll go this route for stepper control; turning outputs on and off is quite a bit simpler than PWM.

    They're fun and very powerful considering the features they employ. Coming form someone who learned with it, it is highly recommended.
  7. hgmjr

    Retired Moderator

    Jan 28, 2005
    I agree with the suggestion that you give Arduino a look see before youj make your final decision. The Arduino UNO is based on the ATMEGA328 so you it fits your preferred manufacturer criteria. The website www.arduino.cc has all the information that you need to know. If the Arduino UNO does not appear to meet your IO requirements then you can go to the ArduinoMEGA which uses a more sophisticated ATMEGA processor. The neat thing is there are tons of already written software applications that you can use to get yourself started.

    The ArduinoUNO can be purchased for around $30 US and the neat part is that you don't have to invest in a programmer since the Arduino has a boot loader built into the processor. You program in C lingo as you call it.

    The convenience of the Arduino is that you do not need to design any hardware. You can buy what are referred to as "shields" which are boards that mate up to the ArduinoUNO or ArduinoMEGA boards.

    Be sure that you check into it before you decide on any other approach be it PIC or AVR.

    I think of the Arduino board set as a microcontroller with training wheels. IT is just great to get use as an introduction into the power of microcontroller design.

  8. prowler_sn

    Thread Starter New Member

    Sep 2, 2011
    ok so I bought a Arduino UNO yesterday. have been playing around with it.the guy at the shop basically said wat most of you guys have, that its a good training tool, Arduino. it was only $39 CAD!!!!...so i had all this extra money left so ended up buying all this stuff. I bought a soldering iron and some pins that go in you breadboard and soldered them to my stepper motor wires (now no more mess:)), got myself some stepper motor drivers, a multimeter ( i dont know why i bought that...maybe cause it looked cool....its shooooo shmall...cute!!) im excited!!!.