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Re: [midatlanticretro] OT w/ Disclaimer: Hobby Microcontrollers

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  • ragooman@comcast.net
    ... From: Joe Giliberti ... Joe, I ll try to keep it short here... :) You re question will always open a can of worms amongst many
    Message 1 of 6 , Sep 28, 2008
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      -------------- Original message ----------------------
      From: "Joe Giliberti" <Starbase89@...>
      >>
      > Message:
      > Hobby Microcontroller Setups:
      > Which one?
      > I will soon hopefully be starting a robotics team with some friends. The
      > goal is to make some entries for a competition in Ohio in late April.
      > We can pretty much use anything for control, from relay logic to a
      > microcontroller. Unless I were building something for either novelty or to
      > show the possibility to use an old technology, I would obviously choose some
      > type of microcontroller. As I do not yet know what tasks we will be
      > competing in, it is hard to make a decision. The devices I am considering
      > are:
      > --Arduino
      > --BASIC Stamp
      > --Parallax Propeller
      >
      > Anyone use any of these three? As I understand it, programming Arduino and
      > BASIC will be simpler than the Propeller. The Propeller though, is
      > significantly more powerful than the other two. So, it will ultimately
      > depend on what we decide upon, but basically, what has the most bang for the
      > buck? What is the most versitle? You get the idea.
      >

      Joe,

      I'll try to keep it short here... :)

      You're question will always open a can of worms amongst many hobbyists . I've been in robotics as a hobby and some work since 70's. This type of question is best suited for their newsgroups. BUT, I personally recommend you to refrain from posting this over there because it won't get you any clear and concise answers. A choice of hardware is at best an individual preference. There's always the "mine's better than yours crowd". To develop your preference of choice it's better to actually experiment with a few types or view someones design to get some hands on experience. Just reading about the stories is never enough--reading about what information to look for in hardware is most important. That's why they make evaluation boards to let you experiment with the hardware. A lot of times people just take this and put it inside their robot if it fits.

      The Arduino is best suited for beginners. As it has many support features built-in to let you get started right away. It'll go a long way, and it's capable of running many different robotic projects. But if your already a programmer you will find the urge to upgrade later on, such as a C compiler--which as far as I know this isn't supported on here - but check anyway. The Propeller is something I would recommend once after you gain some experience with ordinary microcontrollers--this one is much more involved.

      I suppose you're familiar with the robotics newgroups out there in Chicago ? There is a robot contest held by the ChiBots robot club. There's another club in that area too, CIRC. Both have their own yahoo newsgroup, its open to anyone --not just the local members. It's close to us but we haven't made it there yet.

      As for my preference, over the years, I found the AVR from Atmel to be quite effective and user friendly--for 8bitters. Mainly because the AVR technology has always been modern, the parts are cheap, and there's a large open source community (ie.free) of software(including compilers) Check out this website, it's about the biggest forum, http://www.avrfreaks.net/
      You should find a lot of info on the Arduino there --since it has an AVR processor too

      Your welcome to checkout the webpage for our robot club in Pittsburgh.
      We're building a new robot contest here, it's called RoboSwarm (see link below)
      The details about the robots and contest are in the different links there
      The webpage needs some attention as we're always busy with building than writing :)
      We only have 4 robots for this contest so far that our members are building.
      Hopefully we'll get more people once it's up and running.
      http://www.pittsburghroboticssociety.org/roboswarm.html


      hope this helps,

      =Dan
    • Brian Cirulnick
      ... features built-in to let you get started right away. ... I recently saw an alternative, which is Freeduino http://www.freeduino.org/ But, I don t know
      Message 2 of 6 , Sep 29, 2008
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        --- In midatlanticretro@yahoogroups.com, ragooman@... wrote:
        >
        > The Arduino is best suited for beginners. As it has many support
        features built-in to let you get started right away.
        -------------------------------

        I recently saw an alternative, which is Freeduino

        http://www.freeduino.org/

        But, I don't know enough yet about microcontrollers to really ascertain
        whether this is a viable replacement for Arduino. However, they are
        advertsing in MAKE magazine, so I assume it's for real.

        ttyl
        Brian C.
      • mejeep_ferret
        ... That is a very useful resource. I found a useful article there instantly. I admit that the Atmel AVR series of microcontrollers seems to be a great
        Message 3 of 6 , Sep 30, 2008
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          > > The Arduino is best suited for beginners. As it has many support
          > features built-in to let you get started right away.

          > I recently saw an alternative, which is Freeduino
          > http://www.freeduino.org/

          That is a very useful resource. I found a useful article there
          instantly. I admit that the Atmel AVR series of microcontrollers
          seems to be a great choice for learning: great user communities, open
          source tools and low cost kits (such as the AVR Butterfly) that don't
          require a JTAG or proprietory programmer.

          The Basic Stamp MIGHT be nice but it's rather expensive and there's
          the recurring cost per unit for the ROM.

          I learned the Microchip PIC-18 during a course for interfacing
          sensors, so I started with a kit with a boot-load pre-programmed into
          the flash (programmed via rs232). I bought it from Al Williams
          http://www.awce.com/ and used Microchip's free "C" compiler. I will
          eventually "graduate" to using the In Circuit Emulator for debugging
          and to program the (cheaper) totally blank chips without any boot loader.

          I can't find an active PIC community. All the Yahoo groups are dead.
          But the PIC is found in many devices, such as the PicAXE (apparently
          popular in the UK).

          To bring this back to the RETROComputing topic, you could re-discover
          the joys of the Z80 or the eZ80 (50 MHz embedded version). The
          software is sure "mature enough" but the enthusiasm is lacking. I'm
          yet to find more than a few posts about the eZ80 anywhere despite
          Circuit Cellar's contest and articles.
        • Mike Willegal
          I use AVR s. The attiny2313, in particular, as it includes a UART, enough flash and I/O to handle most of what I need to do. I did have one project where I
          Message 4 of 6 , Oct 1, 2008
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            I use AVR's. The attiny2313, in particular, as it includes a UART,
            enough flash and I/O to handle most of what I need to do. I did have
            one project where I needed more I/O pins, but I simply split the
            project into two logical parts and connected the UARTs together in
            order to link the two parts. I could have easily gone to an AVR with
            more pins, but will be able to reuse one half of this project in the
            future. A serial interface is also handy to have available, if you
            need to send or receive data from a PC.

            The AVR instruction set, is easier to use, in my opinion, than the
            PICs and 8051s. Compiled C code will often not fit in a micro-
            controller's limited flash space, depending upon your application, so
            this is an important consideration. Atmel provides both in-circuit
            debugger capabilities and a simulator. Atmel's in-circuit debugger
            costs around $300. The simulator has allowed for me to debug most
            everything I've done, so I never purchased the interface for in-
            circuit debugging. The AVR software tools are free, so the cost of
            startup has been a flash programmer for around $29.00 and some AVR
            chips. The interface from the chip to the flash programmer is simple
            enough to slap together on a breadboard in a few minutes. There are
            plans on the web for building your own flash programmer, but I think
            that it is hardly worth the trouble.

            Regards,
            Mike Willegal
          • Evan Koblentz
            ... Hi Mike. Are you new here? If so, please send a hello world message to our list to introduce yourself ... Background, location, how you found us, etc.
            Message 5 of 6 , Oct 1, 2008
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              >>> Regards, Mike Willegal

              Hi Mike. Are you new here? If so, please send a "hello world" message to our list to introduce yourself ... Background, location, how you found us, etc.

              Thanks,
              - Evan
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