Newbie: getting started in robotics. uC and board questions

You can battery power the olimex boards if necessary.
The wave / drag type tips for a standard type desolder station work wonders.
If you think lqfp64 is bad, try a tsop56 package on a pcb that warps when heated.
Price wise the chips are all ready the same price or cheaper than 18f pics <http://www.digikey.com/scripts/DkSearch/dksus.dll?Detail?Ref5429&Row5901&Site=US>
usb or extra can bus versions are a bit priceier <http://www.digikey.com/scripts/DkSearch/dksus.dll?Criteria?Ref6392&Site=US&Cat2375686>
lpc21xx Plcc44 is coming up soon from Philips, as I have sockets and other boards using plcc44 already, its not to bad to use veroboard.
Alex
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Oh, I can't remember the last time I updated on this. So forgive me if something is repetitious.
I talked my Alma Mater into having a class this spring on intro to robotics, where they are building Mark III Mini Sumos with our PlugaPod(TM) and our Mini Sumo Adapter board. We'd originally wanted to use the PlugaARM(TM) for the processor. But they weren't ready. So we shipped them half a dozen with PlugaPod(TM)s to get them going. Since then, I've been working on this project as if it were a PlugaPod(TM) project. (I'm trying to help write the curriculum now)
A few weeks ago, 15yo James Koffeman, who participated in its programming effort with me, took the unit you see on the web site into the DPRG Table Top contest, and took 1st place in Mini Sumo and 2nd place in line following.
In the mean time, the PlugaARM became available in two forms, one the original Pluga2129, and the other the Pluga2138. I really should go back and review if the signals on these ARM based boards align with the Mini Sumo Adapter board. I'm fairly sure one or both of them will, but since the engineer who was working this job left for a position with home land security, some of the continuity was lost, and I guess it is up to me to go back and be sure everyting "lines up" signal wise, so you have A/D's where you need them, and PWM where you need them, etc.
Alex, if you're interested (and there's not a conflict of interest for you to do so), we'd trade you these boards for a check out and a sample program for basic line following and Mini Sumo operation. Contact me by email if you want to arrange something like that, which I think could be a win win for both parties.
--
Randy M. Dumse
www.newmicros.com
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Good point! Anything that is slow and works beats anything that is fast but doesn't work.

Yes, but that's what I'm saying, that day... _is_ today.
This just happened. The balance just tipped. (In my opinion, for sure last week, with the new Philips price announcements to be certain.)
For example, we make a Barrel Racing Timer in our Pegasus subdivision. We use IR remote ciruits to make a break beam. We have a little LCD on the box, so you can read the run times right off the heads. So we used a little 8-pin PIC iirc. Less than $2. Has 2K of code space and a very small amount of RAM. My head of engineering did the programming on that chip.
Anyway, with feature creep, we got to where we needed just one more feature, to detect if we had a remote console attached. There wasn't room in the code. Ugh. After a couple months of messing with it, he got the feature in.
Now, today, if I were going to do the same product, do you think I'd consider a PIC? No way. For the same money, same assembly cost, just a different processor, I could have room for feature creep for generations without hitting the boundaries of the LPC2131. It has 16x the memory. And if I did feature creap out of the LPC2131, then there's the 2132, 2136, 2138 to switch to. The 2138 has 32K RAM and 512K flash. Same footprint. The larger memory part would solder down right to the same pads in the same product. Plus there are far more features, faster UARTs, A/D's, I2C, CAN, etc. etc. that can be brought to my product while staying in the same family. I could even have USB and talk to a host.
Further, when you talk about development: There is a build in boot loader in the ARM that is fast! There is a JTAG port on the ARM that can be used to debug the program. There are powerful debuggers.available as freeware. There are fine compilers available, freeware and professional. There are many language languages. This is a real processor that can do subroutine calls, and run real time OS's, do interactive debugging, and so on. Etc. Etc.
Man, why would I ever choose a PIC when I could have one of these ARMs at the same price?
Actually, I used to favor the HC908s. Now, I wouldn't consider them either. I'd start out assume a ARM would be the cheapest solution (in the run sizes I normally get involved with anyway).
To get a comparable AVR (ATMEGA128) albeit still slower, I'd have to pay ~$15. (I know, we sell them too on the same size boards.) The ARMs are way less than that.
That's what I mean when I say the day, when the ARM's are so cheap they are used in every little project, is here today.
--
Randy M. Dumse
www.newmicros.com
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

have a read of: http://www.dontronics.com/auto.html this may help.
Don...
--
Don McKenzie
E-Mail Contact Page: http://www.e-dotcom.com/ecp.php?un=Dontronics
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On 3 Oct 2005 05:57:03 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Came across this http://www.digilentinc.com/info/cerebot.cfm at Digilent's site today. Looks interesting; may have to get one.
Where are you getting stuck WRT the AVRs?
--
Rich Webb Norfolk, VA

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I don't know if a micro can be too small. I like 'em small. Particularly now that they are rather complete systems with plenty of RAM and FLASH inside. Mostly they just need some small amount of support extrernal.
As far as dealing with SMT... there's always some supplier that will make a nifty little board with the chip mounted for you.
My company, New Micros, is one. We are offering the LPC2131 with 8K Ram 32K Flash, and a 60MHz 32-bit ARM7 processor all mounted with RS-232 conversion, power regulation, crystal, LED's, etc., for $29.
We've just brought out signal pins to a dual in-line .1" connector that are easy to use on a prototype baord, or in a strip socket. So at about half the price of a Stamp-like processor, you've got something like 20X the computing power, in a similar foot print (narrower). Hopefully that will make your quick and dirty prototypes even faster to whip out, wtihout having to mess with SMT or the support circuitry.
So back to the original poster's question, I'm not sure I'd bother with an 8-bit PIC from the past, anymore than I'd recommend you start with a 16 MHz 286 (designed about the same year) to use for your starting desk top. Why? No modern software even runs on that processor.
By the time you're proficient with the PIC, you'll be about two decades behind everybody else, or with a AVR, about a decade and a half. I'm really lost on why people are so engrained in a past, that's ... well,... past. What's up with that?
--
Randy M. Dumse
www.newmicros.com
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Other options like analog devices Blackfin stamp (may be to expensive) 500MHz dsp chip http://www.analog.com/en/epHSProd/0,,BF533-STAMP,00.html
Blackfins are supposed to be based on the same instruction set as the Intel xscale chips - jointly developed.
http://blackfin.uclinux.org / http://docs.blackfin.uclinux.org/doku.php?id=buy_stuff http://www.blackfin.org /
The blackfin chips have been popping up in quite a few bots lately. See http://www.tinyphoon.com/rainbow /
http://www.analog.com/processors/communities/video/index.html
http://www.analog.com/processors/processors/blackfin/blackfinCoreBasics.html http://www.analog.com/processors/processors/blackfin/blackfinArchOverview.html http://www.videsignline.com/howto/videoprocessing/168601442
Your can try a blackfin stamp board online free of charge if you have a decent net connection speed and bandwidth at http://www.techonline.com/community/prod_eval/devel_systems/37200
Alex
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The new lpc2101/2/3/ are going to be in plcc44 Supposed to be available from end of november.
http://www.standardics.philips.com/products/lpc2000/pdf/lpc2101_2102_2103.pdf
Alex
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