I personally like Microchips PICs and I've been using them for yonks but
unless you go for low end chips, C compilers cost a fair bit. I don't know
how much dev kits cost for these chips cos I only ever buy just the
There are these new PICAXE chips. Extremely easy to use. It doesn't
support C or C++ only its own BASIC variant. But interms of learning
curve, this chip is definately the easiest. The smallest chip(picaxe08) +
dev board costs $30 at altronics or for something bigger, the picaxe18 set
Finally there are the AVRs. There is a free C compiler available for this
chip dev boards for these chips aren't really all that expensive either.
You probably can get started on AVRs for well under $100.
I know its bad form to follow up you own posts but...
There is also a book called "Experiments In Mechatronics Using Picaxe
Chips" which is also sold at altronics(www.altronics.com.au). All the more
reason to use a PICAXE. :)
As always, it depends on your needs.
The C compilers for the PICs are very good, but they are relatively
expensive. There isn't much at the low cost end. Forget any rubbish you
hear about the PIC not being suitable for C.
The Atmels have a slightly bigger range of lower cost C compilers, but
you get what you pay for. A lot of people recon that because the Atmels
have a GCC compiler for free that makes this the platform of choice. In
reality it isn't easy to use and you have to know what you are doing.
Unless you have a lot of GCC C experience (like writing scripts etc
yourself), I'd go for one of the commercial compilers like CodeVision.
Infinitely easier to use and you get results from day one.
There are others like say the Zilog series which offer very cheap
development systems with C compilers, but these aren't as popular.
The PIC and Atmel are the two hottest 8bit solutions at the moment, and
you'll get plenty of online forum support for both.
If you are after more horsepower than an 8bit micro can provide and
think you might need a real-time C kernel, then you might like to look
at the Rabbit series of processors. The developments kits are
reasonably low cost and the come with a real-time C compiler which is
easy to use.
There is a free c compiler for lower end PIC, PICC-Lite by Hitech is very good
and compiles to quite small code. Personally, most of my coding is in
assembly since I can't afford to pay for a compiler that supports the
newer chips. :P
You have got to be joking... They are both limited range single source
compared to the 600+ version of the 51 family from the 30+ silicon
Not only are there free c compilers for the 51 there are also free/cheap
academic versions of the commercial compilers.
Or go to the industry standard ARM7. ARM is so comon it has been called
"the 32bit 8051" (not the 32 bit PIC or AVR)
\/\/\/\/\ Chris Hills Staffs England /\/\/\/\/\
/\/\/ firstname.lastname@example.org www.phaedsys.org \/\/
No I am not joking. The PICs and the AVRs are two of the most poplaur
8bit solutions going around, especially for those starting out with
I am not saying that the PICs or AVRs are better than any other device,
that can be debated forever. Last I checked the PIC was the worlds #1
selling 8bit micro.
Newbies don't care about having 30+ silicon vendors, they care about
what's popular, what's easy to use, and what support they are going to
You can get support for any micro of course, but the PICs and AVRs seem
to be the two micros of choice for beginners these days, with tons of
new books, beginners development tools, traning systems, web sites,
forums, and other support available.
The 51 family is just not a popular solution for first timers any more.
In fact, the "PIC" has almost become synonomous with microcontrollers
these days to those not entirely in the know.
Yes there are, just like many other micros as well.
The ARM is not common at the low end of the market, esp for beginners.
With the Philips LPC210X series in the last year, and also with the
Atmel SAM7 series, the costs of the ARM7 development tools and
compilers for ARM devices continue to come down. It won't be long
before ARM7 will make a cost effective platform for learning of
embedded computing. They will start to make Rabbit micro look very
out of date which it actualy already is. PIC 16 series... Don't even
There are advantages of useing a popular 32bit platform for
educational projects. It is possible to learn about the use of an
RTOS and more viable LAN networking for example. The use of ANSI C is
something that you cannot do on a PIC 16.
It is out of date if there are solutions that allow more flexibility
and are supported by a wider range of superior development tools for a
processor that is available at a similar price.
They are very inefficient using C compilers and do not support ANSI C.
The 16 series PIC only make economic sense if the volumes are high
enough to justify the use of assembly code progamming. If you want to
use C language the AVR, or MSP430 are both far superior in every way,
since it they have architecture that is more reasonable, more
addressing modes, and more MIPs as well. The PIC 16 series is a quite
a shocker by comparison, and I think they are poor value for money
where high level languages are to be used.
By not that much!
Actually, GCC for ARM is extremely mature (as robust as GCC for x86), so
you get a whole bunch of 100% free and open tools.
The chips themselves are only a bit more expensive than the PICs, and
given that you don't get (as of yet) any decent free compiler for PICs
(well, SDCC is slowly getting there, but not quite ready yet), you have
a real bargain here. And a 32-bit architecture.
Granted, these are a bit more complicated to learn and use (no DIP
package, but you can find those "tinyarm" boards for rather cheap,
and they give you a DIP pin-out...)
TiniARM(TM) from New Micros, Inc. is $69. LPC2106 w/ 128K Flash, 64K
RAM. GCC for ARM is available.
We've got advanced info from Phillips on a cheaper new version processor
to come, with a little less memory. We'll be targeted a new ARM based
"Tini" at $29.
While I'm mentioning the line, we've also got TiniAVR(TM), TiniPod(TM)
now, with Tini430 and TiniHC12 coming soon.
Yes, like an equivalent to a low-to-middle grade PIC or a ATMEGA8 sorta
price, but with a 60MHz 32-bit processor with better than 4x the memory,
I'm really liking where the ARM's are going. We've also got Atmel ARM
and Motorola ARM design work in progress. These are ~200MHz.
I think what finally convinced me I like the ARM's was the comment it
was 6502 inspired. I used to be Rockwell's answer man on the 6502
processor line, and had studied them all before picking that processor,
which then determined where I decided to go to work. So that really
I'm not sure how Phillips is doing this, but I sure am pleased with
their pricing trend. This isn't the first time I've heard the ARM called
the 8051 of the fuutre. I'm thinking 32-bits is the new 8-bits.
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