handling IC's [microcontrollers]

just got some PIC's and AVR's in - how do i handle these and work with them to avoid static and damage? im scared to even touch it, they are
cheap but i hate waiting for replacements in the mail :P
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leave them in the package till you're ready to use them, natch. get an esd wrist strap, or wrap a wire around your wrist, after a verification of ground you stick it in the ground part of an electrical outlet. make sure your hands are not wet, but not so dry that it is noticable, wet is of course bad, but so is too dry. don't work on a carpet or in fuzzy clothes like sweats, go nerd, all polyester.     now that's assuming you're terrified of zapping them rather than feeling trepidation, if not then just ground yourself every few minutes and after you shift your butt, to get up, or just to scratch, or leave an esd strap on.     use the same precautions you use when building a computer, don't touch the contacts, finger grease will mess up conductivity by interfering with the solder(it's also corrosive and may eat the pins over time), ground yourself before grabbing the parts.
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ok so if i wear an esd wrist strap then im ok? also, can i use tweezers to pick them up?
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yes tweezers are fine, but you might also try latex gloves, they stick without leaving gook behind, also, if they are regular dip package you can hold them by the ends, it's the ones with pins on all sides that have trouble with fumble finger.
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hey question - where can i get a polyester outfit? looked online at the clean room suits, any ideas?
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second hand store, watch revenge of the nerds, you'll get the idea, but i was only partially serious.
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Ed,
First thing, you are working with $3 AVR's and free PIC's; don't worry too much about frying them.
Second, they are fairly robust. If you are working in a room where you can walk around and not get a shock when you reach for the light switch, you probably won't hurt them.
Third, slow discharge to ground is what you want. Wooden tables are good for that, metal tables are bad.
Earlier this month, the Seattle Robotics Group Yahoo Group had a very good discussion about controlling static (lots of other good stuff is discussed there too).
For about a year I have been working with PIC's and AVR's in a carpeted room on a press board folding table. No EDS strap, no grounding mat, no grounding wire from the table. I haven't fried a chip yet.
Paul
ed wrote:

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how did you get started in electronics and robotics? im trying to get started, and im a fairly bright computer nerd, but i get stuck between theory in books with circuit design, and with practical application. show me some pictorials. i just want some examples of actual breadbaorded avr programmer setups or some simple electronics projects showing off leds, capacitors and such on a simple breadboard with pictures. any ideas?
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i suggest you learn some solid state first, like, build an amp for connecting things to the in on a sound card, like a guitar, or cassette read head.
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I have been working with PICs and AVRs for many years. I live in a humid area so static is generally not a big problem. I can't even remember the last time I got a shock around here. Anyway I have NEVER fried a chip while assembling a board.
As far as getting started, I'm a big fan of sink or swim. Just jump in. In fact I think that simple PIC or AVR projects are easier than amplifier projects. And, IMHO, if I were just getting started I'd out with the AVRs. I could go on and on with a list of all of the reasons that I think they are easier to work with, but let me just give you two: (1) free C compiler, (2) CHEAP programmer. The WinAVR gcc toolchain that found here (http://www.avrfreaks.net/index.php?module=FreaksTools&func=viewItem&item_ty pe=tool&item_id76) for free download is GREAT, easy to install and easy to use and the AVRfreaks website offers great help and support. The AVR ISP can be purchased here (http://www.digikey.com/scripts/DkSearch/dksus.dll?Detail?Ref$3876&Row"0 637&Site=US) and is CHEAP ($29) and works like a champ for virtually ALL the AVR chips.
I suggest you look at the AVR ISP datasheet and the datasheet for the individual AVR chip you choose and just build an ISP socket onto your board.
One other thing: since you are just starting out, I would suggest you use the thru-hole versions of the chips and do your first project or two on a perf board. You can even use one of these simple things here (http://www.radioshack.com/product.asp?cookie%5Ftest=1&catalog_name=CTLG&pro duct_id'6-169). However, once you get a little exp under your belt, you may just want to move to making boards. It's not that tough and these guys (www.pcbfabexpress.com) really do make great boards (they do ALL of my prototypes). They will make a 10 sq inch double sided board complete with solder mask and silk for $11 (minimum 5 pcs) with no setup or tooling fees! No kidding $55 and you get 5 professional boards!
Anyway jump right in. Use the solderless bread board and thru-hole parts to get started. The AVRs even have a built in oscillator so for simple things you don't even need an ext clock. Let me see $25 for bread board, $5 for an AVR, $29 for a programmer, $0 for a C/C++ compiler, $1 for an LED and resistor, $1 for a 10 pin (or 6 pin) ISP header $1 for a 7805 voltage reg and $1 for a 9V battery clip= $73 total investment to start playing with microcontrollers! Of course there are MANY demo boards and eval kits available for both PIC and AVR. You mat also like to check out some of the basic stamp offerings. For example the Parallax Mini sumo is a fun kit and has a small breadboard area on it so you can built it, play with it, then use it as a platform for playing with designs. In fact I got one of the theraminvision kits and hooked it up to my parallax mini-sumo. Great fun! Welcome, there is great fun ahead for you!
--TE
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I got started in electronics with a Radio Shack electronics kit. One of those things with the components stuck in a cardboard box with springs attached to their leads so you could easily connect wires between them. They still sell them (I think it is now called 150 electronics projects) and I'm fairly sure that their OZ & EU counterparts have similar items. The book that comes with them is written for a smart 10 year old, but it teaches you the basics. There are also great beginners books by Forest Mins (sp). I didn't get one until years after I started, but they look like they are perfect for beginners.
I got started with microcontrollers using PICs & Myke Perdeko's book which has been mentioned several times in this thread. He shows exactly how he laid out the components for each of his projects on a solderless breadboard. My only complaint with the book is that it uses C which I hate, but as a computer nerd, you probably are comfortable with C so that won't be a problem for you.
I'm in the middle of moving so I probably won't get around to posting pics of simple AVR circuits probably for a month and a half, but in the mean time you can also take a look at this webpage that I found by googling "AVR breadboard blink led": http://www.kuro5hin.org/story/2003/4/15/124459/007 The guy is doing some things different than I would, but what he has works and he has pictures of it to show you.
Good luck,
Paul
ed wrote:

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I've never had any damage happen with them. They are not *that* sensitive that you should get paranoid about it.
Just don't wear certain kinds of clothes when you manipulate them (like some synthetic materials), also beware of carpets and such. Then, just touching earth before manipulating the devices is usually enough, at least for the hobbyist, to get rid of any residual static charge you might be carrying.
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