View Poll Results: What is your skill level with microcontrollers?

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  • I'm at least fairly skilled with microcontrollers.

    33 62.26%
  • I've used microcontrollers just a little, but I wouldn't know how to do much with them.

    4 7.55%
  • Never used one, but I have decent electronics and programming skills and would like to learn.

    12 22.64%
  • It sounds too complicated, or I'm not interested.

    2 3.77%
  • I don't understand what a microcontroller does.

    2 3.77%
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Thread: How much do you know about microcontrollers?

  1. #1
    Low Bitrate FordNoMore's Avatar
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    Question How much do you know about microcontrollers?

    Ever since learning to use microcontrollers (PIC's in my case), I feel like a whole world of possibilities has opened up for electronics projects. I'm just curious if many people on this site know much about them or are interested in learning.

    A microcontroller (such as a PIC) is basically a simple computer on a single chip. They cost maybe $5 each and can do all sorts of things. When you program them, you have direct access to input and output pins, so you can easily control relays, motors, or LED's, read switches or encoders, control or communicate with other electronics, etc.

    It does take intermediate skill at computer programming to use them, and some basic electronics design skills to get much out of them. Also, even though they're cheap, they do require a programmer which is generally a few hundred bucks to buy.
    *EDIT: Okay, I've been corrected. You can get programmers much cheaper than that. See replies below.*

    Just wondering what the general skill level and interest is on this forum.

  2. #2
    Raw Wave Rob Withey's Avatar
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    Know about them, have used them many times and will probably use them again.
    The same is probably true for many people on this forum, you only have to see some of the projects here to realise that.

    Programmers are not a few hundred bucks, they are far cheaper.
    Old Systems retired due to new car
    New system at design/prototype stage on BeagleBoard.

  3. #3
    Fusion Brain Creator 2k1Toaster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob Withey View Post
    Know about them, have used them many times and will probably use them again.
    The same is probably true for many people on this forum, you only have to see some of the projects here to realise that.

    Programmers are not a few hundred bucks, they are far cheaper.


    We got a programmer for like $20 + shipping or something like that, and you can build one yourself if you are uber-geeky for a dollar or so in parts.
    Fusion Brain Version 6 Released!
    1.9in x 2.9in -- 47mm x 73mm
    30 Digital Outputs -- Directly drive a relay
    15 Analogue Inputs -- Read sensors like temperature, light, distance, acceleration, and more
    Buy now in the MP3Car.com Store

  4. #4
    Variable Bitrate eric_barcus's Avatar
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    never used, its a world id love to get into considering im a project aholic where should i start?

  5. #5
    Low Bitrate FordNoMore's Avatar
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    What cheaper programmers would you recommend? I (from work, fortunately) got a Microchip Development Kit for I think $300. It's a really nice setup, with a USB in-circuit debugger and a demo board... but on my own dime I would have opted for something cheaper.

  6. #6
    It ain't easy being a green moderator meddler's Avatar
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    Just finished doing a course at colledge for microcontrollers and c++ programming.

    Infact I am writing a robot arm control program for my final assignment
    Never let the truth get in the way of a good story

  7. #7
    Low Bitrate FordNoMore's Avatar
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    This is a great reference for PIC Microcontrollers that starts from basics and is perfect for a beginner. I'm amazed that it's available online for free:
    www.mikroe.com/en/books/picbook/picbook.htm

  8. #8
    It ain't easy being a green moderator meddler's Avatar
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    great link. thanks.
    Never let the truth get in the way of a good story

  9. #9
    Variable Bitrate eric_barcus's Avatar
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    got it and bookmarked it

  10. #10
    Registered User
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    Have used them many times from small project to something very complicated.

    There are better MCU out there but PICs is the best one to get started, they have plenty of variety, supports, infos, projects and they give away free samples

    As for the programer get the one with ICSP + USB and the one that would integrate with MPLAB, its productive that way. There are many other software you can use but I like MPLAB so im biased

    Learn assembly language and you will appreciate how an MCU work much better, and you will be able to get the most out of it. Use ASM if possible then C.

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