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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

So,you want to start learning microcontroller and other embedded stuffs?

Hello guys,
Well...this is a post for newbies in microcontroller world.Here,I didnt mean a complete newbie by the term "newbie".I am neither gonna talk about resistor capacitor and transistors nor what is microcontroller etc.This post is for someone who knows at least what a microcontroller is and wants to start learning it and requires a guide line on how to start.

WELL...you know what a microcontroller is...hmm???okay...thats cool.Now lets talk about how to start.Well...the first thing is to choose a microcontroller family.Well...I dont want to hurt the feelings of the fanboys of other families...but AVR from Atmel and PIC from Microchip are the two best families for newbies currently...its because of the gigantic number of tutorials and example projects you are gonna find online. www.extremeelectronics.co.in is an excellent site for learning both these families,or the winavr.scienceprog.com for AVR.One hint for the first site...their tutorials are kept in reverse order...so for getting the basic tutorials...u need to go to the last page of the tutorials.
Now lets come to another very very important thing...availability of microcontroller and tools.Well...u need a microcontroller and a tool to program it.Now if you are  not confident enough to make your own programming tool or if you havent got someone who can do it for you,I recommend you buy one...for PIC,buy Pickkit2 or 3(2nd one isrecommended).If you cant buy them,look for their clones.I am giving a few links here

http://www.microchip.com/stellent/idcplg?IdcService=SS_GET_PAGE&nodeId=1406&dDocName=en538340&redirects=pickit3

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw=usbasp&_osacat=0&_from=R40&_trksid=p2045573.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.Xpickit2&_nkw=pickit2&_sacat=0

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw=pickit2&_osacat=0&_from=R40&_trksid=p2045573.m570.l1313.TR0.TRC0.Xpickit3&_nkw=pickit3&_sacat=0

You can check other sources too.

For AVR,

http://www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_odkw=pickit3&_osacat=0&_from=R40&_trksid=p2045573.m570.l1313.TR2.TRC1.A0.Xusbasp&_nkw=usbasp&_sacat=0
This little programmer is really cool,but its not their official programmer...but you can use it...In fact,I use it for my work and it works just great

http://www.atmel.com/tools/AVRDRAGON.aspx
This is the official one.

Now...a million dollar question...which one to choose???PIC or AVR...well....u guys wont even believe that this question can trigger World war 3(u will see someday,trust me)!!!Well...I would say...go for any.See which one you can afford(Talking about tool),which one is available in your country,..or which one your friend or known ones are using(this suggestion has been given so that you might get help from them).
Now...both Microchip PIC and Atmel AVR are families,not a single microcontroller.There are hundreds of different models of PIC and AVR microcontrollers...My advice is,decide which one you are gonna use,get to the market and buy one model,any model.But onw thing you must know...for starting,choose from 8bit PIC or AVRs...For AVR,I would suggest ATmega16 or ATmega32(a good general purpose microcontroller).For PIC,go for PIC16F877...these micros are highly available AFAIK.
Now...one thing.you might have heard about another thing,ARDUINO....right?????If you havent,dont try to know about it for now.If you have and your friend told you its extremely easy bla bla bla,Now,for that,I want to ask you a question,
Why do you want to learn microcontroller???Is it just for some university term project?Are you going to wipe off all you microcontroller lessons after that project???or do you want to learn microcontroller and become a professional embedded systems expert in your future life?If the first one is the reason,you can go for ARDUINO...but if the second is the reason,dont even think of getting near it for now.Its an excellent platform that uses several microcontrollers from Atmel AVR family(or Microchip PICs or ARMs in different but similar platforms).Its like a magical tool for rapid prototyping etc. and its highly tempting for newbies as well since its extremely easy to use...but sometimes shortcuts DO come with their side effects.If Arduino is your first choice for "learning", you wont even scratch the surface of this vast embedded systems world.First,learn the basics of AVR or PIC,then you will be able to use an Arduino to its limit.So, for now,forget the word Arduino.Its not for newbies who want to become professional.First learn AVR/PIC,then move to Arduino....the path wont be smooth,but at the end of it there is a huge reward.

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