need microcontroller advice

Discussion in 'NZ Computing' started by aum, Sep 24, 2004.

  1. aum

    aum Guest

    Hi,

    I've got a hobby project which requires a microcontroller, and need some
    advice.

    Microcontroller requirements:
    * on a board
    * min 2 analog inputs
    * 8 digital inputs (for pushbuttons)
    * RS-232 port
    * programmable via a PC
    * LCD display

    So far, I've only looked at the DSE offerings. But they (esp the Basic
    Stamp) seem to require lots of extras, which would end up costing more
    than I want to spend.

    My software skills are good - I can hack assembler or machine code if
    needed. However, my hardware skills are much more modest.

    Any recommendations?

    Thanks in advance
    aum


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    aum, Sep 24, 2004
    #1
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  2. aum

    Tim Guest

    Yip,

    Atmel AT90S series. There is a whole family of devices ranging from small
    with only a few IO's to considerably larger with 32 or more IO's. The
    AT90S8535 (somewhat obsolete, but don't let that worry you) has 4 x 8 bit
    ports. Each port and port pin can be configured for I or O or whatever
    special purpose that have. EG there are 8 AD converter inputs (10 bit), 2 AD
    Comparators, 2 UARTS, and so on. If you don't want such a sophisticated
    beast, then just pick out a lower spec one from the series and a lower price
    / pin count.

    There is the CodeVision C compiler available (free eval for small programs)
    or the assembly with it.

    The Atmel STK500 is a multi purpose work bench for gettting to know these
    beasts & costs around $200. Mine came with a AT90S8535 and a ATMega16 chip.

    LCD's - there are very many, the code for driver LCD's come with the
    CodeVision (or many other) compilers. You'll need to be good with a
    soldering iron.

    Personally I think the "stamp" stuff is a rip off. RRP on top of some dealer
    on top of some manufacturere on top of some designer....

    - Tim


    "aum" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Hi,
    >
    > I've got a hobby project which requires a microcontroller, and need some
    > advice.
    >
    > Microcontroller requirements:
    > * on a board
    > * min 2 analog inputs
    > * 8 digital inputs (for pushbuttons)
    > * RS-232 port
    > * programmable via a PC
    > * LCD display
    >
    > So far, I've only looked at the DSE offerings. But they (esp the Basic
    > Stamp) seem to require lots of extras, which would end up costing more
    > than I want to spend.
    >
    > My software skills are good - I can hack assembler or machine code if
    > needed. However, my hardware skills are much more modest.
    >
    > Any recommendations?
    >
    > Thanks in advance
    > aum
    >
    >
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    Tim, Sep 24, 2004
    #2
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  3. aum

    Greg Guest

    sounds like you want to head the PLC (Programable logic controller) way,
    what kind of analgue input 0-10v or 4-20mA?

    what kind of voltage do you want it to be, some el-chepo ones will run
    on 12vdc, most run on 24vdc, or 110vac or 240vac

    the digital inputs what kind of digital, again there is a choice of
    voltages for the input

    now... the outputs, how many, and what kind analogue/digital

    as far a programing, nearly all are programable via an rs-232 on them,
    some of them have a little lcd display and button which you can use them
    to program with, but the biggest problem is getting the software as they
    usually don't give it away for free.

    no need to program is assembler or machine code, as the software is
    ladder logic, not too hard if youre only doing simple stuff.


    Greg

    aum wrote:
    > Hi,
    >
    > I've got a hobby project which requires a microcontroller, and need some
    > advice.
    >
    > Microcontroller requirements:
    > * on a board
    > * min 2 analog inputs
    > * 8 digital inputs (for pushbuttons)
    > * RS-232 port
    > * programmable via a PC
    > * LCD display
    >
    > So far, I've only looked at the DSE offerings. But they (esp the Basic
    > Stamp) seem to require lots of extras, which would end up costing more
    > than I want to spend.
    >
    > My software skills are good - I can hack assembler or machine code if
    > needed. However, my hardware skills are much more modest.
    >
    > Any recommendations?
    >
    > Thanks in advance
    > aum
    >
    >
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    > -----== Over 100,000 Newsgroups - 19 Different Servers! =-----
     
    Greg, Sep 24, 2004
    #3
  4. aum

    Ron McNulty Guest

    Looks like you have already sussed this, but there is a setup cost then a
    production cost for each end-user system. Obviously the balance differs
    between those who want to experiment and those who expect to sell over
    10,000 units.

    Hardware hacking is great fun. i would still be in it if the money was any
    good.

    Regards

    Ron


    "aum" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > Hi,
    >
    > I've got a hobby project which requires a microcontroller, and need some
    > advice.
    >
    > Microcontroller requirements:
    > * on a board
    > * min 2 analog inputs
    > * 8 digital inputs (for pushbuttons)
    > * RS-232 port
    > * programmable via a PC
    > * LCD display
    >
    > So far, I've only looked at the DSE offerings. But they (esp the Basic
    > Stamp) seem to require lots of extras, which would end up costing more
    > than I want to spend.
    >
    > My software skills are good - I can hack assembler or machine code if
    > needed. However, my hardware skills are much more modest.
    >
    > Any recommendations?
    >
    > Thanks in advance
    > aum
    >
    >
    > -----= Posted via Newsfeeds.Com, Uncensored Usenet News =-----
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    > -----== Over 100,000 Newsgroups - 19 Different Servers! =-----
     
    Ron McNulty, Sep 24, 2004
    #4
  5. aum

    Mike Smith Guest

    On Fri, 24 Sep 2004 14:03:03 +1200, aum <> wrote:

    >Hi,
    >
    >I've got a hobby project which requires a microcontroller, and need some
    >advice.
    >
    >Microcontroller requirements:
    >* on a board
    >* min 2 analog inputs
    >* 8 digital inputs (for pushbuttons)
    >* RS-232 port
    >* programmable via a PC
    >* LCD display
    >
    >So far, I've only looked at the DSE offerings. But they (esp the Basic
    >Stamp) seem to require lots of extras, which would end up costing more
    >than I want to spend.
    >
    >My software skills are good - I can hack assembler or machine code if
    >needed. However, my hardware skills are much more modest.
    >
    >Any recommendations?
    >
    >Thanks in advance
    >aum



    Have alook at the PICAXE range

    www.picaxe.co.uk

    Is readily available here

    Mike S
     
    Mike Smith, Sep 24, 2004
    #5
  6. (Mike Smith) wrote in message news:<>...
    > On Fri, 24 Sep 2004 14:03:03 +1200, aum <> wrote:
    >
    > >Hi,
    > >
    > >I've got a hobby project which requires a microcontroller, and need some
    > >advice.
    > >
    > >Microcontroller requirements:
    > >* on a board
    > >* min 2 analog inputs
    > >* 8 digital inputs (for pushbuttons)
    > >* RS-232 port
    > >* programmable via a PC
    > >* LCD display
    > >
    > >So far, I've only looked at the DSE offerings. But they (esp the Basic
    > >Stamp) seem to require lots of extras, which would end up costing more
    > >than I want to spend.
    > >
    > >My software skills are good - I can hack assembler or machine code if
    > >needed. However, my hardware skills are much more modest.
    > >
    > >Any recommendations?
    > >
    > >Thanks in advance
    > >aum

    >
    >
    > Have alook at the PICAXE range
    >
    > www.picaxe.co.uk
    >
    > Is readily available here
    >
    > Mike S


    I agree.

    The PICAXE-28X has four 10-bit A/D on PORTA, 8 digital inputs on PORTC
    which leaves you 8 outputs on PORTB to interface with an LCD.

    More than a Basic Stamp 2 at less than one-third the price.

    PHA http://www.phanderson.com/picaxe/picaxe.html
     
    Peter H Anderson, Sep 25, 2004
    #6
  7. aum

    El Penguino Guest

    On Fri, 24 Sep 2004 21:27:45 +1200, in nz.comp you wrote:

    >Hardware hacking is great fun. i would still be in it if the money was any
    >good.


    I find this an interesting point. Why do you think/know the money is
    no good? What did you move into instead ?

    I know the electronics industry here was small and got smaller after
    the removal of duties. Is it low demand for engineers that has driven
    pay down ?

    Is everything so rosy in IT ? Can technically minded people move in
    easily enough ? Is there not an oversupply of keen young minds eager
    to earn the megabucks they've heard about ?

    Cheers,
    El P.
     
    El Penguino, Sep 26, 2004
    #7
  8. aum

    Chris Guest

    aum <> wrote in news::

    > Hi,
    >
    > I've got a hobby project which requires a microcontroller, and need

    some
    > advice.
    >
    > Microcontroller requirements:
    > * on a board
    > * min 2 analog inputs
    > * 8 digital inputs (for pushbuttons)
    > * RS-232 port
    > * programmable via a PC
    > * LCD display
    >
    > So far, I've only looked at the DSE offerings. But they (esp the Basic
    > Stamp) seem to require lots of extras, which would end up costing more
    > than I want to spend.
    >
    > My software skills are good - I can hack assembler or machine code if
    > needed. However, my hardware skills are much more modest.
    >
    > Any recommendations?
    >
    > Thanks in advance
    > aum
    >
    >
    > -----= Posted via Newsfeeds.Com, Uncensored Usenet News =-----
    > http://www.newsfeeds.com - The #1 Newsgroup Service in the World!
    > -----== Over 100,000 Newsgroups - 19 Different Servers! =-----


    Take a look at www.dontronics.com very worth while web site. No problems
    buying stuff from them, they are very well known in micro circles. You
    will find lots of hardware and software, including freeware, basic and C
    compliers etc. Have been buying stuff from them for maybe 6 years.


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    Chris, Sep 26, 2004
    #8
  9. aum

    Ron McNulty Guest

    "El Penguino" <> wrote in message
    news:...
    > On Fri, 24 Sep 2004 21:27:45 +1200, in nz.comp you wrote:
    >
    > >Hardware hacking is great fun. i would still be in it if the money was

    any
    > >good.

    >
    > I find this an interesting point. Why do you think/know the money is
    > no good?

    Try the IT Seek adverts. An experienced Software Architect can expect round
    $80 to $105k. The same skill level in real-time software seems to be about
    $20k below this (any high paid real-time people out there that can refute
    this?). I have no idea why this should be.

    > What did you move into instead ?

    I moved from electronic design into real-time programming then through some
    aacidents of fate, ended up writing commercial software. Now as a Software
    Architect, I analyse, design and write J2EE systems.

    > I know the electronics industry here was small and got smaller after
    > the removal of duties. Is it low demand for engineers that has driven
    > pay down ?

    I think that maybe the pay was never as high. The demand is low, partly
    because we don't do a lot of electronic design in NZ. There are some largish
    operations (F&P, Tait Electronics, Exicom to name a few), but there far more
    demand for senior software people, especially in Wellington.

    > Is everything so rosy in IT ?

    By no means, but the industry is maturing. There are still some "cowboy"
    outfits out there, and the level of project failure is frightening. Sadly,
    there are also quite a number of programmers that are operating beyond their
    level of knowledge, and are turning out buggy, unreliable and unmaintainable
    code. I have had to pick up the peices after several of them threw in the
    towel and resigned when their code was in "alpha test". But certification
    exams (e.g. Java) are starting to become required for the better jobs. This
    recognises that what you leaned at Uni (Fortran in my case) will be
    superceeded many times during your career.

    >Can technically minded people move in easily enough ?

    Probably not now. When I moved, computer science was a very odd thing to
    study, so there were openings for graduates in almost any discipline. I
    still think that an engineering degree is an excellent grounding for
    software design. It teaches the art of breaking down large problems int
    smaller solvable problems. The emerging discipline of software engineering
    should build on this.

    > Is there not an oversupply of keen young minds eager to earn the megabucks

    they've heard about ?
    Yes and no. You don't get "megabucks" from tapping away at a computer. It
    takes many years of experience before you can sit down with a customer,
    analyse their needs and budget, and come up with a workable solution. A
    track record of sucessful projects is the key to progress.

    Regards

    Ron
     
    Ron McNulty, Sep 26, 2004
    #9
  10. aum

    Harry Guest

    Ron McNulty wrote:

    >
    > "El Penguino" <> wrote in message
    > news:...
    >> On Fri, 24 Sep 2004 21:27:45 +1200, in nz.comp you wrote:
    >>
    >> >Hardware hacking is great fun. i would still be in it if the money was

    > any
    >> >good.

    >>
    >> I find this an interesting point. Why do you think/know the money is
    >> no good?

    > Try the IT Seek adverts. An experienced Software Architect can expect
    > round $80 to $105k. The same skill level in real-time software seems to be
    > about $20k below this (any high paid real-time people out there that can
    > refute this?). I have no idea why this should be.


    I get well above $200k and my work is primarily in real-time software.
    The industry might be more relevant. I am currently in financial information
    services industry.

    >
    >> What did you move into instead ?

    > I moved from electronic design into real-time programming then through
    > some aacidents of fate, ended up writing commercial software. Now as a
    > Software Architect, I analyse, design and write J2EE systems.
    >
    >> I know the electronics industry here was small and got smaller after
    >> the removal of duties. Is it low demand for engineers that has driven
    >> pay down ?

    > I think that maybe the pay was never as high. The demand is low, partly
    > because we don't do a lot of electronic design in NZ. There are some
    > largish operations (F&P, Tait Electronics, Exicom to name a few), but
    > there far more demand for senior software people, especially in
    > Wellington.
    >
    >> Is everything so rosy in IT ?

    > By no means, but the industry is maturing. There are still some "cowboy"
    > outfits out there, and the level of project failure is frightening. Sadly,
    > there are also quite a number of programmers that are operating beyond
    > their level of knowledge, and are turning out buggy, unreliable and
    > unmaintainable code. I have had to pick up the peices after several of
    > them threw in the towel and resigned when their code was in "alpha test".
    > But certification exams (e.g. Java) are starting to become required for
    > the better jobs. This recognises that what you leaned at Uni (Fortran in
    > my case) will be superceeded many times during your career.
    >
    >>Can technically minded people move in easily enough ?

    > Probably not now. When I moved, computer science was a very odd thing to
    > study, so there were openings for graduates in almost any discipline. I
    > still think that an engineering degree is an excellent grounding for
    > software design. It teaches the art of breaking down large problems int
    > smaller solvable problems. The emerging discipline of software engineering
    > should build on this.
    >
    >> Is there not an oversupply of keen young minds eager to earn the
    >> megabucks

    > they've heard about ?
    > Yes and no. You don't get "megabucks" from tapping away at a computer.


    I disagree.

    > It takes many years of experience before you can sit down with a customer,
    > analyse their needs and budget, and come up with a workable solution. A
    > track record of sucessful projects is the key to progress.


    If that is what you want to do.

    I would contest however that who you know is far more relevant
    than experience and what you know.
    Better to employ experts and focus on who you can get to know better.
     
    Harry, Sep 26, 2004
    #10
  11. aum

    Ron McNulty Guest

    > I get well above $200k and my work is primarily in real-time software.
    > The industry might be more relevant. I am currently in financial

    information
    > services industry.


    You realy are an enigma Harry -$200k yet you are not rich? Maybe that is 10
    years work?

    I don't think you would know what real-time software is.
     
    Ron McNulty, Sep 26, 2004
    #11
  12. aum

    Harry Guest

    Ron McNulty wrote:

    >> I get well above $200k and my work is primarily in real-time software.
    >> The industry might be more relevant. I am currently in financial

    > information
    >> services industry.

    >
    > You realy are an enigma Harry -$200k yet you are not rich? Maybe that is
    > 10 years work?


    You don't have a clue as to what being rich means.
    The rich person would make at least $1m pa after tax.

    >
    > I don't think you would know what real-time software is.


    Yeah right ... you know everything about what I know. LOL!

    But I know, for a fact, that you haven't got a clue.
     
    Harry, Sep 26, 2004
    #12
  13. aum

    El Penguino Guest

    On Sun, 26 Sep 2004 17:56:17 +1200, "Ron McNulty"
    <> wrote:

    Thanks for your comments. I don't know if I have it in me to do
    software fulltime but you were right, hardware hacking is great fun.
    It does seem to be a case of the money is in the software though.

    The electronics industry here is very tiny after coming back from
    abroad. Kiwis like to think of themselves as technologically advanced
    and early adopters etc but I don't think we can actually justify that
    attitude outright.
    </ rantlet>

    BTW Exicom laid off all their development staff apart from one or two
    housekeepers. A period of consolidation , I believe they call it.

    Cheers,
    El P.
     
    El Penguino, Sep 26, 2004
    #13
  14. It seems like Sun, 26 Sep 2004 18:20:59 +1200 was when Harry
    <> said Blah blah blah...

    >I would contest however that who you know is far more relevant
    >than experience and what you know.


    Alas, that seems true. However, I guess uni and polytechs are good
    places to network and make new friends. After all, one day they might
    be your boss:)
    --
    Regards,
    Waylon Kenning.

    1st Year B.I.T. WelTec
     
    Waylon Kenning, Sep 26, 2004
    #14
  15. It seems like Sun, 26 Sep 2004 22:58:06 +1200 was when Harry
    <> said Blah blah blah...

    >You don't have a clue as to what being rich means.
    >The rich person would make at least $1m pa after tax.


    It could be said that you don't have a clue as to what being rich
    means. Rich means an abundance of something, whether that's money, or
    love, or power etc...

    I was rich earning $40K a year, when I had $50 weekly expenses, 30
    hours a week salary, two weeks paid leave every 10 weeks, and a
    massively cruisy yet enjoyable job, lots of friends, and a comfortable
    life.

    What kind of lifestyle would one be living if they were earning $1M
    p.a. after tax? Surely not too much, I would think spare time would be
    at a premium.
    --
    Regards,
    Waylon Kenning.

    1st Year B.I.T. WelTec
     
    Waylon Kenning, Sep 26, 2004
    #15
  16. aum

    Harry Guest

    Waylon Kenning wrote:

    > It seems like Sun, 26 Sep 2004 22:58:06 +1200 was when Harry
    > <> said Blah blah blah...
    >
    >>You don't have a clue as to what being rich means.
    >>The rich person would make at least $1m pa after tax.

    >
    > It could be said that you don't have a clue as to what being rich
    > means. Rich means an abundance of something, whether that's money, or
    > love, or power etc...
    >
    > I was rich earning $40K a year, when I had $50 weekly expenses, 30
    > hours a week salary, two weeks paid leave every 10 weeks, and a
    > massively cruisy yet enjoyable job, lots of friends, and a comfortable
    > life.
    >
    > What kind of lifestyle would one be living if they were earning $1M
    > p.a. after tax? Surely not too much, I would think spare time would be
    > at a premium.


    This is not necessarily a correlation between the amount of time worked
    and the amount earned. So your assumption that somehow somebody earning
    $1m pa has to work harder is flawed.
     
    Harry, Sep 27, 2004
    #16
  17. aum

    Chris Guest

    Harry <> wrote in
    news::


    > I get well above $200k and my work is primarily in real-time software.
    > The industry might be more relevant. I am currently in financial
    > information services industry.
    >

    Your a bank robber ?


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    Chris, Sep 27, 2004
    #17
  18. aum

    Harry Guest

    Chris wrote:

    > Harry <> wrote in
    > news::
    >
    >
    >> I get well above $200k and my work is primarily in real-time software.
    >> The industry might be more relevant. I am currently in financial
    >> information services industry.
    >>

    > Your a bank robber ?
    >


    No, I don't have anything to do with the banking industry.
     
    Harry, Sep 27, 2004
    #18
  19. aum

    Ron McNulty Guest

    >> The rich person would make at least $1m pa after tax.

    Oh dear - do you have a substance abuse problem? Considering the time you
    spend mithering on on this NG, it would be very hard to be "not rich" on
    $200k pa

    > But I know, for a fact, that you haven't got a clue.

    Fine - I have a comfortable income, and a good family life - maybe not a
    "clue", whatever that is. Exactly what "fact" are you refering to?
     
    Ron McNulty, Sep 27, 2004
    #19
  20. aum

    Harry Guest

    Ron McNulty wrote:

    >>> The rich person would make at least $1m pa after tax.

    >
    > Oh dear - do you have a substance abuse problem? Considering the time you
    > spend mithering on on this NG, it would be very hard to be "not rich" on
    > $200k pa
    >
    >> But I know, for a fact, that you haven't got a clue.

    > Fine - I have a comfortable income, and a good family life - maybe not a
    > "clue", whatever that is. Exactly what "fact" are you refering to?


    .... that you haven't got a clue!

    And here is the silly bit you cleverly snipped:

    "I don't think you would know what real-time software is."

    That is why it is a fact that you haven't got a clue.
     
    Harry, Sep 27, 2004
    #20
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