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Need help getting started with microcontrollers
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Please be positive and constructive with your questions and comments.

Need help getting started with microcontrollers

by pannaguma on Sun Jul 04, 2010 12:10 am

Hi friends,
I am working on a comb generator (ie, jammer without the gain antennas) as part of a summer project. Well since its only a 2nd year project I almost went ahead with an analog design for the dc offset voltage stage. But an op-amp summing junction distorted my ramp way beyond any practical use. Hence I was forced to search for alternatives when I stumbled upon the Tuning system sub-section in the Make section of Wave Bubble, which describes the use of an ATmega88-20AU. Well it seems, that uC has been replaced by the ATmega88PA as indicated to on the ATMEL page.

Now being a complete noob to microcontrollers and not possessing any programming/development equipment I am in quite a fix as to what is required to program the said uC. Especially is there any DIY kit that can use the parallel port along with a breadboard and few other cheap components that help me do the job? What about the AVRISP mkII ($35), will it do the job without the need for any development board??

Welcome any suggestions.
Thanks for reading.
pannaguma
 
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Re: Need help getting started with microcontrollers

by uhe on Sun Jul 04, 2010 2:07 pm

I'd say, if you are willing to invest the 35$ then buy a mkII or a USBtinyISP for 22$. Both have a USB-Port and you can program every ATtiny and ATmega AVR. IMO the mkII can also program the xmega series.

Since you ask: There is the Getto programmer instructable which will tell you how to use your parallel port for programming.

Depending on how newbish you are an Arduino might also be suitable. It has a bootloader and the only thing you need to program it is a USB cable.

HTH
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." - Thomas Edison
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Re: Need help getting started with microcontrollers

by pannaguma on Tue Jul 06, 2010 2:43 am

Thanks for the link. I also read ladyada's intro page on AVRs. Thinking of getting STK500 or AVRISPmkII, or both! It seems a worthy investment considering it can program lots of different AVRs.
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Re: Need help getting started with microcontrollers

by uhe on Tue Jul 06, 2010 2:25 pm

AFAIR you can programm every AVR with an AVRISPmkII even the new xmega series.
I've never used a STK500 and I don't know a reason why I should. My customized USBtinyISP and a breadboard fits my needs, it's all I've ever needed for development (thanks to Ladyada for the opensource hardware designs) :D.
Ofcourse at some point in time you want a real pcb with soldered connections, but thats another story ;)
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." - Thomas Edison
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Re: Need help getting started with microcontrollers

by chuckm on Wed Jul 07, 2010 7:16 pm

I would not recommend getting an STK500, its both unsupported (Atmel is deprecating it in favor of the STK600) and it doesn't do anything that plugging and chip into a breadboard can do (well one thing, it has a clock generator).

If you get one free from attending a seminar that's one thing but I wouldn't go out and actually buy one.
--Chuck

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Re: Need help getting started with microcontrollers

by pannaguma on Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:08 am

but well as a beginner i dont want to spend $310 for STK600+STKDIP40 adapter, when it doesnt even support OCD.
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Re: Need help getting started with microcontrollers

by uhe on Thu Jul 08, 2010 7:13 am

WTF?
ChuckM wrote:I would not recommend getting an STK500, its both unsupported (Atmel is deprecating it in favor of the STK600) and it doesn't do anything that plugging and chip into a breadboard can do

By looking at some pictures of both (as a hobbyist), I must say this is a huge joke!
STK500 has multiple DIP sockets and the STK600 has... some strange connectors with daughter-boards. crap! Is there another good reason for this than making (more) money (I know that the new xmega isn't available in a DIP package)?
Thanks ChuckM for convincing me that I don't need either of those :)
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." - Thomas Edison
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Re: Need help getting started with microcontrollers

by Entropy on Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:00 am

BTW, if you're looking for "high budget AVR tools" - the ATJTAGICE MkII is awesome. It's possible occasionally (runs out of stock often) to get it from Arrow NAC for $150, half its normal price of $300.

I have had some issues using the ATJTAGICE to program the flash of AVRs in ISP mode with avrdude, so it is useful to have another "solid" ISP programmer (like the USBTinyISP) around. The JTAGICE seems to do fine when using avarice to program the flash in debugWire mode, and I have had no problems with transitioning in/out of DebugWire mode using the JTAGICE to burn fuses only.

debugWire is awesome, it is amazing how much you can see into the internal workings of your program with it.
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Re: Need help getting started with microcontrollers

by pannaguma on Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:49 pm

in all fairness, STK500 seems to be out in the market since 4-5 years. While are XMEGAs only 2 years old. So cant blame ATMEL for not including support for XMEGAs.
So while I would agree STK500 is past its prime, atleast its cheaper than the STK600. And as a beginner I not going anywhere near XMEGAs anytime soon!
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Re: Need help getting started with microcontrollers

by Entropy on Thu Jul 08, 2010 4:44 pm

For XMEGAs, there are plenty of cheap dev boards too, like those from Boston Android.

I wouldn't be surprised if we see one from Adafruit eventually. :)
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Re: Need help getting started with microcontrollers

by uhe on Thu Jul 08, 2010 5:09 pm

Do you know what programmers are available that speak PDI other than the AVRISPmkII?
Maybe a secret update to the USBtinyISP? :)
"I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." - Thomas Edison
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Re: Need help getting started with microcontrollers

by Entropy on Fri Jul 09, 2010 10:51 am

JTAGICE MkII - not sure what else.
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Re: Need help getting started with microcontrollers

by chatham on Mon Jul 19, 2010 8:07 pm

One thing you might want to check out as a beginner is the AVR Dragon - It's in the $60-70 range, and it's a little slower programming things than the AVRISPmkII, but it has on-chip debugging, which is awesome.
OpenChord.org - Open Source kits to let you play Guitar Hero with a real guitar, or build your own Wii/PS3/USB controllers.

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