microprocessor reccomendation - learner_highlevel language, LCD, keypad


I've been out of the loop on this stuff now for about 8 years... I used to play around with PIC16F84s but haven't for too long.

What's the best "L/P plate" processor packages these days? I see references to PICAXE, Ardunio, and other packages on the web and in sites like "instructables", but have no idea what's best suited to people who aren't so worried about web integration

The first 2 projects I need to get done are going to be standalone devices using character LCD screens for output, and a simple Hex keypad for data entry - other I/o counts outside of those devices will be in the 5-8 pin range.

Ideally i'd like a highlevel language like C, or BASIC if possible as part of the package (similar to the AVR_GCC package offered for AVR) whereas in my PIC days there wasn't much in the way of free/included high level languages suitable for cheap startup learning.

So what's the reccomended packages for people starting up into the embedded processor scene these days? What would you reccomend for the projects listed above?

thanks, Des

Reply to
des bromilow
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This is a bit of a stretch from the embedded micro world, but you might find it interesting to at least check out, as it meets some of your requirements quite well. It also offers an excellent range of I/O interfacing, something that many native microsystems require you to create yourself.

They're 100% Australian devised, owned and managed. All their software is free downloads. And they're happy to sell one-offs to hobbyists.

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You might like to check this out:

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Olimex sell boards for a few different brands of uC.

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I've purchased from them in the past (into Australia), prices & service are good. Have a look and see what Don McKenzie has as well.

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Have a look at

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Its a basic for Microchip pics. Also check
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This allows you to program Microchip pics via their serial ports. Makes development easy.

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I'd like to add my hearty endorsement to this. The Picaxe I.C.s have some astonishing features, have a simple BASIC-like language and good documentation. One of the best things about them, in my view, is the forum that jerd mentions. Helpful, knowledgeable, and the last time I looked, not an irritating knowall in residence. Available from Altronics (and other suppliers). The starter kit for the 08M is less than $40, I think.

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I bought PICkit2 and a couple 'demo' boards for development. The

28pin Demo Board is better than the smaller Low Pin Count model as it includes 32768Hx crystal for real time clock, and can directly drive the common 2 line by 16 or 4 line by 20 LCD modules.

I'm programming in assembler at the moment, only because I spent more than a decade doing embedded controllers in assembler back in the '80s with different 8bit microcontrollers.

The larger PIC chips have dsp and C language support from Microchip and others. I'm down at the baby PIC area, the chips are cheap, and I wanted to start somewhere simple.

If you're running windows there's a free development 'MPLAB' software from Microchip, goes fine for starters. I've not yet done a lot with the PIC, just starting.

The PICkit powers and programs the PIC chip, a development cycle of compiling, downloading and testing is very fast. A lot better than the old burn & crash testing with UV erasable uC chips I used to work with.

The 28pin PICkit board CPU has on-chip debugging support for single step and breakpoints.


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Arduino is an open platform consting of an Atmel AVR processor and come standardised hardware, 8K (or more) rom, 2K (or more) ram, programmable in C or assembler etc (programming software is free) Arduinos are available from a number of suppliers in different shapes and sizes. or you can buy an AVR chip and build your own.

PicAxe is a PIC running a proprietry basic, I'm not sure if compiled or interpreted or how well processor feature like input capture, timer interrupts, and PWM are supported.

both are programmed by just hooking them up to a PC, no extra hardware is needed.

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Jasen Betts

play around with PIC16F84s but haven't for

PICAXE, Ardunio, and other packages on

to people who aren't so worried about web

Have a look at:

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although possibly a little dated now, it may give you some leads.

For a 15 year old beginner, I would have to agree with a lot of the previous posters. The Picaxe is a good place to start, however I have never moved into this product. I was the first offered this product in Australia, but my enthusiasm for a new project of this magnitude was lacking, and Picaxe deserved a lot more than I could offer at my age.

Have a look at:

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David has put in a lot of time and energy into Pixace. Tell him Don sent you, and good luck with it.

Cheers Don...

Don McKenzie

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Don McKenzie

Thanks All!!!!

I've grabbed some PICAXE 28x1 to get started and deal with the immediate projects and will see what projects demand/ dictate after that.

I "rescued" a Microchip ICD 2 and M18 c compiler from a big toss out, but apparently it will only work with 18 series chips, not the 16's I'm used to. I haven't tossed it yet, but if there's value in it for someone else I'm sure we can work out a swap. (there's some chips with it but since they're TQFP I can't use them in my designs (vero board)). I don't know what this lot is worth, but currently I'd rather something I could use, and hand this off to people who can use it.

The immediate project is a small standalone stepper pulse generator which will deliver a calculated number of pulses (once configured) each time an input is triggered - the purpose is to remove some errors from a manual process, and overcome common human error caused by failing eyesight. There are commercial products which do this, but at a price I can't afford.. plus if I build it myself, I can add a few features unique to the application. I've ordered a 20x4 LCD from e-bay and buying a hex keypad next week - hopefully it'll be running in a few months.

Thanks all, and if you're interested in the MPLAB -C-18 Software kit (with ICD 2) and a tube of 9 pic18f452-i/l chips in TQFP, contact me off list.

Thanks, Des

Reply to
des bromilow

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