Microcontroller development environment with C/C++ compiler support for a freshman mechatronic student

What is the best (not expensive) microcontroller development environment with C/C++ compiler support for a freshman mechatronic student?

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In aus.electronics Nico wrote:

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 microcontrollers.
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 cost $50.
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.
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Wing Wong.
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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. :)
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I know its bad form to follow up you own posts but...
WHY ?? not if you have something usefull to add,
and my posting is not useful on this topic so I think it will be bad to follow it up.
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.NOSPAM.uwa.edu.au> writes

but they are strange compared to anything else.

No true at all. The academic versions are free then there is GNU...

50 USD up.;

/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\ \/\/\/\/\ Chris Hills Staffs England /\/\/\/\/\ /\/\/ snipped-for-privacy@phaedsys.org www.phaedsys.org \/\/ \/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/
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Nico wrote:

environment
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.
Dave :)
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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
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8051, AVR or ARM?

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 vendors.
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 /\/\/\/\/\ /\/\/ snipped-for-privacy@phaedsys.org www.phaedsys.org \/\/ \/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/
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Chris Hills wrote:

you
Sorry, I meant AVR.

and
source
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 micros. 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 get. 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.

free/cheap
Yes there are, just like many other micros as well.

look
is
called
The ARM is not common at the low end of the market, esp for beginners. Dave :)
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Do not forget MSP430 from TI.
Rudolf
writes

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I can say that we use AVRs at work.
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wrote:

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 mention it.
regards, Johnny.
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Johnny wrote:

beginners.
Not as cost effective as the 8bit micros though, not a chance.

Nothing is "out of date" if it meets your requirements.

Why not, they sell in their hundreds of millions, and are probably the #1 selling 8bit micro line in the world.
Dave :)
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That's deluded.

PICs and 8051s have been around for 20+ years now, and are shown no signs of slowing down. A PIC or 8051 will always be cheaper than an ARM, and there will always be a market for cheaper.
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Grant Edwards grante Yow! The SAME WAVE keeps
at coming in and COLLAPSING
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wrote:

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.
regards, Johnny.
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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...)
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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.
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Randy M. Dumse
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Randy M. Dumse wrote:

Wow = $69 to $29, that new Philips chip must be a LOT cheaper ? :)
-jg
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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, iirc.
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 reached me.
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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Randy M. Dumse wrote:

called
Tell that to the countless people who need a 50cent micro solution... 32bit will never match the price point of the 8bit solutions.
Dave :)
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