# Looking to get into Atmel programming, few questions...

#### dynamo

Dec 2, 2016
18
Hi and thanks for the nice forums!

Old PLC/Robot guy here looking to play with some micros..
I downloaded and installed the Atmel Studio software last night and now want to get into MCU development, an evaluation board and programmer.
I don't need much in the way of horsepower for the MCU; standard digital I/O and perhaps some A/D, D/A...

This is what I'm looking at for starters:
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/J34...68.html?spm=2114.13010208.99999999.264.Umw7OH
It looks like it will cover a broad range of MCUs.

Or this:
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/DCc..._8&btsid=aa3ec531-ba26-4b1f-bc8b-f9310563e64a

Or this:
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/ATM..._8&btsid=aa3ec531-ba26-4b1f-bc8b-f9310563e64a

This is all new to me as far as what's required to write code, download to the MCU and implement it into a project.
I prefer the boards that have the MCU, crystal, power connection and I/O pins all available on board, I am not looking to build my own PCBs or anything like that.

Thanks for any ideas to steer me into a direction where I don't buy things I won't ever use LOL!

#### pgib8

Jul 26, 2015
107
Getting a board that has a programmer built-in and that does also provide an integrated USB-to-serial interface for debugging is a very good choice, like the middle link.
On this board you have nearly no peripherals, probably one or two LEDs and maybe a button. This will be good to learn some basics and you'll probably add your own peripherals to the expansion headers.
Alternatively you can buy something that has more stuff already on the board that you can play with.

One thing to think about is do you want to learn and understand how it all works or do you want to put together crazy gadgets and have them perform without too much fuss?
Many "programmers" today can put together all kind of embedded applications basically by copy and pasting code from the internet. If you do want to learn things from ground up I would recommend to steer away from using libraries and instead write your own code. On the other hand if you want to build project xyz and just simply make it work, then of course libraries are your friend.

I definitely recommend starting with a small microcontroller. Take a look at the datasheets and registers. I would shoot for 300 pages at the very most to start with, I'd recommend something 100 or less pages actually. You don't want to overwhelm yourself early in the process. I know you want to go with Atmel and that's fine, if it were up to me, you'd be getting a low-end 8-bit Microchip PIC MCU Well I'm pretty sure Microchip now owns Atmel.

#### BobK

Jan 5, 2010
7,682
These are cheap. Only the first one seems to include a programmer, the other two links, which seem to be the same board, would need a separate programmer.

Personally, I would spend the extra money and get a programmer and demo board directly from AVR. This way you know you will have support and you will end up saving many hours of your time.

But then, I am a PIC guy and have never used AVR.

Bob

#### dynamo

Dec 2, 2016
18
Many thanks for the quick replies, pgib8 and BobK.
I am just playing around in my waning years and am not committed to Atmel or PIC.
I know many Industrial applications that have used PIC controllers.
I well check them out as well before making any purchase decisions.
Fun?
You bet!

#### pgib8

Jul 26, 2015
107
well if you're considering other chip manufacturers also have a look at the TI launchpad with the many boosterpacks.

#### NMNeil

Oct 3, 2014
110
Nobody has suggested looking at the Arduino platform, which is odd as it's cheap and a good introduction to programming, and the Uno uses the Atmega328P MCU, which has enough power for just about anything.
Yes the Arduino IDE has some faults but it's dead easy to learn and you can integrate segments of AVR C directly, which is handy because some of the Arduino IDE functions are horribly slow.

#### dynamo

Dec 2, 2016
18
well if you're considering other chip manufacturers also have a look at the TI launchpad with the many boosterpacks.
Thanks again, pg1b8, will do!

Nobody has suggested looking at the Arduino platform, which is odd as it's cheap and a good introduction to programming, and the Uno uses the Atmega328P MCU, which has enough power for just about anything.
Yes the Arduino IDE has some faults but it's dead easy to learn and you can integrate segments of AVR C directly, which is handy because some of the Arduino IDE functions are horribly slow.

Thanks, NMNeil.
As a matter of fact, I am looking at the Arduino platform to teach my son some basic Electro-Mechanical and coding lessons as we build a project from scratch.

Something like this?
https://www.aliexpress.com/item/hig..._1&btsid=ce43e7d3-1eb4-4b51-a2ea-d8291ffd75fb

I really like the Atmel Studio software interface, having already installed it and viewing some "how-to's".
I presume I can use it for the Arduino if it runs n the Atmega 328P?
Or does Arduino have another software package?

I used to program in machine code on the Intel 8080 and 8085 back in the 80's for work, never in Assembler, however.
Also, the Motorola 6502 MCU (if I remember correctly) in school so HEX coding is not totally new to me.

From what I've seen so far, in just a few hours searching, it seems that the PIC MCU's software is HEX based. Just for comparison sake, anyone know if they have a package similar to the Atmel Studio?

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#### dynamo

Dec 2, 2016
18
Thanks NMNeil, I did and it looks sweet as the Atmel Studio package!

However, I have decided to go with an Atmel platform at this time, mainly for the reason that I can hopefully tie this anticipated upcoming "knowledge" in with the Arduino as my son gets older (he is 6 yrs old now, never too early LOL).

Anyway, hope I am not asking too much here but was wondering if someone can help me choose a "starter set"...
I will buy all components (as available) from the Atmel site, I guess the links I posted above may be clones so support goes out the window, right?

I guess what I need will be:

1) 8-bit MCU - a "popular", in-production and hopefully "supported-for-a-few-years" (I don't have much free time right now so it will be a sloooow project curve LOL) 8-bit MCU for starters to keep it simple, with some basic Digital I/O, Analog I/O, a few built in timers
Perhaps this one?
http://www.atmel.com/devices/ATMEGA328.aspx

2) Programmer - a programmer with a ZIF socket for up to 40 pins (or more) for future
Perhaps this one?
http://www.atmel.com/webdoc/avrispmkii/avrispmkii.intro_connecting.html

3) In-circuit Debugger - is this absolutely required, i.e. can't this be performed via the Atmel Studio software (don't laugh too hard at me!!!)

3) Cable - a cable or JTAG (I probably have one if it is USB?); or hopefully it comes with the programmer.

4) Motherboard - an inexpensive pre-soldered board with MCU socket and crystal that I can drop my programmed MCUs into that has breakout pins for I/O, power supply, maybe a few status LED's, A/D for a potentiometer, etc.
This is waaaay out of my budget but WTH...
http://www.atmel.com/tools/STK600.aspx?tab=overview

There are soooooo many choices out there that it boggles my mind!
Is this an appropriate forum for this question or should I go to an Atmel forum?

I will have more general electrical/electronics design/component questions in the future so I'd rather stay in one place if possible; as I stated, time for my new hobby is limited and it is a long term project so I'd rather not be jumping all over the internet creating new threads...I will forget where I posted LOL!

Thanks for any more clues!!!

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#### NMNeil

Oct 3, 2014
110
Atmel Studio 7 is a free download from Atmel. It's very bloated but I do like it's debug simulator. Add to this a simple kit (search for Atmega8 kit on the bay of all things, about $2), a few Atmega8 chips ($1 each) and a USBAsp ISP ($1.75) not only will you get a complete starter kit for about$5, but you can practice your soldering.

#### dynamo

Dec 2, 2016
18
Atmel Studio 7 is a free download from Atmel. It's very bloated but I do like it's debug simulator. Add to this a simple kit (search for Atmega8 kit on the bay of all things, about $2), a few Atmega8 chips ($1 each) and a USBAsp ISP ($1.75) not only will you get a complete starter kit for about$5, but you can practice your soldering.
Excellent, thanks NMNeil!
I have already installed Atmel Studio and played around with (see OP in this thread).
There's always a hot soldering iron around here LOL!
Thanks again, looks like it will be a fun-filled new year with new toys!!!

#### dynamo

Dec 2, 2016
18
An update...received the UNO R3, what a breeze to program!
I started with the Atmel Studio then decided to use the Arduino IDE software.
Many example projects right in the software!
Up and running literally in minutes!
Highly recommended for those wishing to dabble with Micro Controllers.
Thanks again for all of the help here!

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