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Help me get started with Microcontrollers!
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Help me get started with Microcontrollers!

by soggybag on Sat Mar 01, 2008 3:35 am

I'd like to get started with Microcontrollers. I have, what I think, would be a reasonable beginner project in mind.

I want to create a simple LFO on an 8 pin DIP. It should read a pot to determine speed and output a simple waveform like a triangle.

I need to find the right chip to work with, a programmer and software. Any recommendations gladly accepted.

I have some experience with the Basic Stamp and basic electronics.

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by Entropy on Sat Mar 01, 2008 9:13 pm

Pretty much anyone here will tell you to use one of the 8-pin ATTiny-series AVR microcontrollers. Not sure which one. (This is a very AVR-heavy forum, due to the fact that Ladyada likes AVRs, and all of Ladyada's microcontroller products are AVR-based to my knowledge.)

You might want to start with a development board like the Arduino or Boarduino combined with a USBTinyISP for programming (if you want to move to an 8-pin AVR you have to start with straight AVR-GCC, not the Arduino IDE to my knowledge.) Once you get your circuit up and running on an ATMega168, you can then "slim it down" to one of the 8-pin devices.
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by soggybag on Sun Mar 02, 2008 1:07 am

Thanks for the reply. Let me see if I'm getting this right.

The USBTinyISP is the programmer. I can get a kit and make it myself. I can use this programmer with a development board or a breadboard or a board that I make myself.

AVR-GCC and AVRDude are freeware software tools that I can use with USBTinyISP on my Mac or Windows computer to program most any AVR chips.

I have Windows 2000 and Mac OS X with a USB port the above should work with either.

I'm new to all of this so I'm not sure what all of these items are.I googled them and read a little about the items you mentioned.

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by darus67 on Sun Mar 02, 2008 3:34 pm

You got it all correct.

Also check out the MiniPOV3 kit. It will get you started with a small AVR
micro, gcc and avrdude.
As long as you have a compatible serial port, you won't need to invest
in a programmer.
"He's just this guy. You know?"
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by soggybag on Sun Mar 02, 2008 6:32 pm

Thanks for the reply. The MiniPOV looks like a very cool little project. I may have to build one of these for fun.

I think I'm going to go with the USBtinyISP, since it can be used directly with USB. Which makes it a little more convenient to work with.

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by schill on Sun Mar 02, 2008 11:39 pm

Entropy wrote:You might want to start with a development board like the Arduino or Boarduino combined with a USBTinyISP for programming...


Just a quick comment. If you go the Arduino route, you don't need a programmer. All you need is a serial or USB connection (depending on the board). The arduino software works with the bootloader on the chip to program it.

The USBTiny programmer is good and it's useful if you want to move beyond Arduino, but it's not required for them.

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by soggybag on Thu Mar 13, 2008 2:56 pm

Thanks for the suggestions. I bought the USBtinyISP and assembled it the other night. I also order a few ATTINY13V10PU from mouser. I'm all set to get started.

Is there a diagram somewhere showing the wiring I might use with the USBtinyISP programmer? I think I should be able to set this up on a breadboard and test from there.

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by CCarlson on Thu Mar 13, 2008 3:26 pm

The fellow at Upward Not Northward put together a neat little ISP breakout board which plugs into a breadboard. Once it's in, you check out the datasheet for whichever AVR chip you're using, run jumpers to connect MISO to MISO, MOSI to MOSI, and so on, and attach your 6-pin ISP connector.

Easy as cake.

I think he did a limited run of the board, but he might still have a few to sell...
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by schill on Thu Mar 13, 2008 3:53 pm

CCarlson wrote:The fellow at Upward Not Northward put together a neat little ISP breakout board which plugs into a breadboard. Once it's in, you check out the datasheet for whichever AVR chip you're using, run jumpers to connect MISO to MISO, MOSI to MOSI, and so on, and attach your 6-pin ISP connector.


www.sparkfun.com has some, too:
AVR Programming Adapter.

It's pretty easy to wire one up without a fancy PCB, but the boards can be convenient.

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by soggybag on Thu Mar 13, 2008 4:50 pm

Thanks fro the reply. Is there schematic of the connections to make with the USBTinyISP programmer? I think I'll start off with this and get a board later or maybe make my own with some perfboard once I have it figured out.

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by schill on Thu Mar 13, 2008 5:28 pm

soggybag wrote:Thanks fro the reply. Is there schematic of the connections to make with the USBTinyISP programmer? I think I'll start off with this and get a board later or maybe make my own with some perfboard once I have it figured out.


The pin-out for the 6-pin and 10-pin headers is an Atmel standard. You should be able find information on their site.

Here's the schematic for an older version of the USBTiny:
V1.0 Schematic in PNG format

The pin-out should be the same. The pins are labeled. Just connect them to the corresponding pins on your chip: MOSI, MISO, SCK, RESET. Connect VCC and GND to VCC and GND on your breadboard (or other chip platform).

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by oPossum on Thu Mar 13, 2008 6:17 pm

Image

Image

Image


EAGLE schematic and board files.
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