# Cheap µC boards to discover embedded programming ?

T

#### theBrave

Jan 1, 1970
0
Hello,

I want to learn to program micro controllers but I don't know how to
start. I've seen some development kit from manufacturers but I think
most are too expensive. On the other hand, searching for "atmega" on
eBay, I found those (http://tinyurl.com/2sbuvz) cheap board that seem
powerfull. They seem complete, with everything needed to program them.
Do you think they are a good deal ? Is buying in asia the key ? Do you

Jean

What's wrong with the Atmel STK500? US$79. http://www.atmel.com/dyn/products/tools_card.asp?tool_id=2735 E #### Eeyore Jan 1, 1970 0 theBrave said: Hello, I want to learn to program micro controllers but I don't know how to start. I've seen some development kit from manufacturers but I think most are too expensive. On the other hand, searching for "atmega" on eBay, I found those (http://tinyurl.com/2sbuvz) cheap board that seem powerfull. They seem complete, with everything needed to program them. Do you think they are a good deal ? Is buying in asia the key ? Do you know other better "sub-or-around"$100 dev kits ?

It looks good value to me. You really can't go wrong with that it seems.

Graham

E

#### EdV

Jan 1, 1970
0
Hello,

I want to learn to program micro controllers but I don't know how to
start. I've seen some development kit from manufacturers but I think
most are too expensive. On the other hand, searching for "atmega" on
eBay, I found those (http://tinyurl.com/2sbuvz) cheap board that seem
powerfull. They seem complete, with everything needed to program them.
Do you think they are a good deal ? Is buying in asia the key ? Do you
know other better "sub-or-around" $100 dev kits ? Jean You can get Basic stamp kits at Radio Shack. It depends on what you are trying to accomplish. If you want to learn assembly language or embedded C Basic Stamps are probably not the way to go. Checkout Mouser and Digikey also. Good luck and have fun, Ed V. J #### Joerg Jan 1, 1970 0 theBrave said: Hello, I want to learn to program micro controllers but I don't know how to start. I've seen some development kit from manufacturers but I think most are too expensive. On the other hand, searching for "atmega" on eBay, I found those (http://tinyurl.com/2sbuvz) cheap board that seem powerfull. They seem complete, with everything needed to program them. Do you think they are a good deal ? Is buying in asia the key ? Do you know other better "sub-or-around"$100 dev kits ?

Can't beat that, I guess:
http://www.ti.com/corp/docs/landing/ez430tool/index.htm?DCMP=430Day&HQS=Other+OT+ez430

$20 for a kit that gives you all the tools. AFAIK they also sell MSP430F2012 adapters for it. Three for$10 which sounds like a really
good deal.

The programming environment is quite nice, I am using it.

R

#### Rich Grise

Jan 1, 1970
0
I want to learn to program micro controllers but I don't know how to
start. I've seen some development kit from manufacturers but I think
most are too expensive. On the other hand, searching for "atmega" on
eBay, I found those (http://tinyurl.com/2sbuvz) cheap board that seem
powerfull. They seem complete, with everything needed to program them.
Do you think they are a good deal ? Is buying in asia the key ? Do you
MSP430F2012 adapters for it. Three for $10 which sounds like a really good deal. The programming environment is quite nice, I am using it. Sounds like a bargain and ... 128 bytes of RAM ? Guess you have to learn its assembler to use it, but it is definitively a bargain for someone who wants to experiments with a small, low power microcontroller. Atmel made$20 AVRbutterfly and $30 USB eval board, but they seems to have disappear from the market. I have found those two on Atmel's site. I have one of these new laptop that doesn't have an serial port so dev kits with an usb port could ease a lot of problems. I have heard about issue concerning the Butterfly saying that 1) There is a bug in the bootloader that require the board to be reprogrammed using the stk500 2) RS232 part is not very compliant especially for those using usb converters. This is sad because I found some carrier board that makes experiments a lot easier. Also, I guess I'll have to order them at digikey, but shipping is expensive (yes I'm french), hopefully they don't weight much. Just a last question for tonight: JTAG adapters can be used for both programming and debugging, true ? L #### linnix Jan 1, 1970 0 Sounds like a bargain and ... 128 bytes of RAM ? Guess you have to learn its assembler to use it, but it is definitively a bargain for someone who wants to experiments with a small, low power microcontroller. Sorry, should have checked first. Both are now available from digikey. I have found those two on Atmel's site. I have one of these new laptop that doesn't have an serial port so dev kits with an usb port could ease a lot of problems. I have heard about issue concerning the Butterfly saying that 1) There is a bug in the bootloader that require the board to be reprogrammed using the stk500 2) RS232 part is not very compliant especially for those using usb converters. This is sad because I found some carrier board that makes experiments a lot easier. Yes, the hacked-up 232 signal booster is not very reliable. I replaced mine with a Max232 driver. Alternatively, hook it up to a FT2232 USB to Serial. Actually, I use FT2232->ARM->AVRs. Or actually, X86->X86->FT2232->ARM->AVRs. Also, I guess I'll have to order them at digikey, but shipping is expensive (yes I'm french), hopefully they don't weight much. Just a last question for tonight: JTAG adapters can be used for both programming and debugging, true ? Yes, Jtag Ice I for butterfly and Jtag Ice II for usbkey. L #### linnix Jan 1, 1970 0 If you go easy on the variables 128b is plenty. I switched to the 64K/4K (flash/sram) version just for the sram. I would prefer even more sram if possible. Remember that these are 16bit uC. Which also means they pack quite some MIPS horsepower. Most F2xx family parts don't have a HW multiplier but there are larger versions that do (and also contain a lot more RAM). For bigger apps, I would go to Arm. I was told by a TI app engineer that a converter would most likely not work which is why I switched to the USB programmer. To my surprise, when I bought my latest laptop it had a RS232 port. Strangely, they had not mentioned that in the advertisements. Not a problem with Avr, there are several Usb-Serial and Usb-Jtag programmers for Avr. Yes. I am not sure about the new spy-by-wire (SBW) since I have so far only used it for programming. The Jtag ice works well enough for butterfly, before I burnt out the chip and the programmer (my fault). Anyway, I have since replaced it with Atmega649 (which can't be Jtag Ice I anyway). I can spi download the flash and jtag the i/o pins, but nothing else yet. I've been chewing the spec for days trying to make it run. I verified the flash (via spi), checked the pins (via jtag). Vcc and Reset are 3.3V. Internal RC clock source with max. startup time. But the damn (pardon my French) thing won't do a simple pin toggling. J #### Joerg Jan 1, 1970 0 Jean said: Sounds like a bargain and ... 128 bytes of RAM ? Guess you have to learn its assembler to use it, but it is definitively a bargain for someone who wants to experiments with a small, low power microcontroller. If you go easy on the variables 128b is plenty. Remember that these are 16bit uC. Which also means they pack quite some MIPS horsepower. Most F2xx family parts don't have a HW multiplier but there are larger versions that do (and also contain a lot more RAM). I have found those two on Atmel's site. I have one of these new laptop that doesn't have an serial port so dev kits with an usb port could ease a lot of problems. I have heard about issue concerning the Butterfly saying that 1) There is a bug in the bootloader that require the board to be reprogrammed using the stk500 2) RS232 part is not very compliant especially for those using usb converters. This is sad because I found some carrier board that makes experiments a lot easier. I was told by a TI app engineer that a converter would most likely not work which is why I switched to the USB programmer. To my surprise, when I bought my latest laptop it had a RS232 port. Strangely, they had not mentioned that in the advertisements. Also, I guess I'll have to order them at digikey, but shipping is expensive (yes I'm french), hopefully they don't weight much. Just a last question for tonight: JTAG adapters can be used for both programming and debugging, true ? Yes. I am not sure about the new spy-by-wire (SBW) since I have so far only used it for programming. J #### Joerg Jan 1, 1970 0 Jean said: Sounds like a bargain and ... 128 bytes of RAM ? Guess you have to learn its assembler to use it, but it is definitively a bargain for someone who wants to experiments with a small, low power microcontroller. I have found those two on Atmel's site. I have one of these new laptop that doesn't have an serial port so dev kits with an usb port could ease a lot of problems. I have heard about issue concerning the Butterfly saying that 1) There is a bug in the bootloader that require the board to be reprogrammed using the stk500 2) RS232 part is not very compliant especially for those using usb converters. This is sad because I found some carrier board that makes experiments a lot easier. Also, I guess I'll have to order them at digikey, but shipping is expensive (yes I'm french), hopefully they don't weight much. Just a last question for tonight: JTAG adapters can be used for both programming and debugging, true ? Just to avoid a misunderstanding: I meant the MSP430. Don't know about Atmel. J #### Joerg Jan 1, 1970 0 Yes. I bought some of their boards through this company in the US: http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/categories.php?cPath=2_11 However, Jean lives in France. Maybe he could order directly from Bulgaria or email Tsvetan Usunov at Olimex. Price-wise the TI deal of three F2012 header boards for$10 is hard to
beat though, or shared \$3.33 a pop plus shipping. BTW, since you are at
University of Akron this also seem to be the perfect fit to have
students do some real prototyping. I mean, they probably can't even buy
a decent Latte for that kind of money.

J

#### Joerg

Jan 1, 1970
0
linnix said:
I switched to the 64K/4K (flash/sram) version just for the sram.
I would prefer even more sram if possible.

For bigger apps, I would go to Arm.

Not a problem with Avr, there are several Usb-Serial and Usb-Jtag
programmers for Avr.

The Jtag ice works well enough for butterfly, before I burnt out the
chip
and the programmer (my fault). Anyway, I have since replaced it with
Atmega649 (which can't be Jtag Ice I anyway). I can spi download the
flash and jtag the i/o pins, but nothing else yet. I've been chewing
the
spec for days trying to make it run.

I verified the flash (via spi), checked the pins (via jtag). Vcc and
Reset
are 3.3V. Internal RC clock source with max. startup time.
But the damn (pardon my French) thing won't do a simple pin toggling.

Now don't throw any tomatoes but, ahem, is the WDT disabled or handled
properly? I am not familiar with Atmel but I remember a MSP430 app where
that was the issue (the guy had wrestled with it for a whole day).

L

#### linnix

Jan 1, 1970
0
Now don't throw any tomatoes but, ahem, is the WDT disabled or handled
properly? I am not familiar with Atmel but I remember a MSP430 app where
that was the issue (the guy had wrestled with it for a whole day).

I'll check it again, but I think the WDT is disable by default.
The board worked with the 16K version, the only thing different is
the 64K part. Perhaps there are more "upgrades" than memories.
I need the 4K sram because my communication buffer size is 2K.
Ethernet (10T) buffer is 1.5K, so 2K is the most efficient size.
My actual data path is:

x86 <10T> x86 <usb> Arm <232> Avr(s)

The Avr needs to be able to handle data dump of 1.5K,
as well as sampling buffers of 20KHz.

J

#### Joerg

Jan 1, 1970
0
linnix said:
I'll check it again, but I think the WDT is disable by default.

On the MSP430 it isn't. You have to turn it off as one of the first
commands after reset has finished or have the handler in place in due
course. Else it'll time out on you.

The board worked with the 16K version, the only thing different is
the 64K part. Perhaps there are more "upgrades" than memories.
I need the 4K sram because my communication buffer size is 2K.
Ethernet (10T) buffer is 1.5K, so 2K is the most efficient size.
My actual data path is:

x86 <10T> x86 <usb> Arm <232> Avr(s)

The Avr needs to be able to handle data dump of 1.5K,
as well as sampling buffers of 20KHz.

That doesn't sound like a WDT issue. Maybe there are some subtle
differences or "improvements" beyond the larger memory size.

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