Microcontrollers - Arduino

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Jack Ebersole
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Re: Microcontrollers - Arduino

Post by Jack Ebersole » Sun Mar 01, 2015 10:32 pm

The Arduino is actually an ATmega 328P. Nothing more than a particularly beefy AVR microcontroller: the Arduino platform is actually just a USB programmer/debugger, which your ATmega328P sits in, and you can use the Arduino board to program other AVRs with a little bit of tweaking. Though I personally prefer the USBasp for a programmer, you'll be hard-pressed to find a cheaper debugger than the Arduino board.

Also, personally, I prefer the ATtiny chips since they're a little cheaper and much gentler on battery life.

That means you can use Atmel Studio to program your Arduino, which is a C-based development environment (also includes an assembler if you're feeling hardcore). You can download it from Atmel's website for free. If you're using OSX or Linux you can use AVR-GCC.

If you're not familiar with AVR, there is a wonderful book called MAKE: AVR Programming that I used while I was learning, I highly recommend it. There might be some parts of it that are redundant if you already have experience with microcontrollers, but it's an excellent guide to the AVR platform.

Jerry Biehler
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Re: Microcontrollers - Arduino

Post by Jerry Biehler » Mon Mar 02, 2015 2:09 am

Way cheaper than an arduino and has a real debugger:

http://www.newark.com/freescale-semicon ... ICONDUCTOR

But you need to know C to program them.

Jeroen Vriesman
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Re: Microcontrollers - Arduino

Post by Jeroen Vriesman » Mon Mar 02, 2015 10:27 am

Have been doing some things with arduino, but it's very limited, or the add-ons will make it a bit more expensive.
Raspberry PI seemed an alternative, but the usb frames are handled in software, and it's not always stable (don't knwo if the latest version is more stable).

Looking into beaglebone black now, seems very promising, will buy one soon, it has two "PRU's" on board, simple processors with 8+8k mem and 12k shared memory running at 200MHz independend of the main processor.
The two PRU's can be programmed in assembly for simple control and data aquisition tasks, while the main cpu can run a complete linux os, so anything complex can be done with e.g. python or ruby. And it's a very stable platform.

The beaglebone black seems like "best of both worlds" to me with a high performance CPU running a complete os and the PRU's for real-time tasks.

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Andrew Robinson
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Re: Microcontrollers - Arduino

Post by Andrew Robinson » Mon Mar 02, 2015 3:55 pm

Yes the Beagle Bone Black is nice, but it has its own set of problems. Namely a serious PHY chip problem where the eth interface fails to come up on boot occasionally, or fails randomly after running for awhile. I have been fighting with these for well over a year now and there is not a solution in sight yet. We deployed several hundred as a development test bed IoT. So far I am more frustrated with these than sissified.

I would instead take a look into the new Intel Edison line.
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Richard Hull
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Re: Microcontrollers - Arduino

Post by Richard Hull » Mon Mar 02, 2015 11:22 pm

Doing my work and development on an UNO and then blowing the program into the pro mini at $4.95 each. Don't need speed. Don't need more than 2 - 10 bit A to D ports. Don't need USB on board at all. Don't need any com. Just need DO!

Pro mini draws 3ma @ 8volts, once I get rid of the leds hooked to digital 13 and power on..... I'll use 2 thin little lithium-ion cells for most apps. Going for tiny....low current....wired in.

The pro-mini is a cheap, yet potent little rig that doesn't have to hog a lot of energy to do its thing.

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Jeroen Vriesman
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Re: Microcontrollers - Arduino

Post by Jeroen Vriesman » Tue Mar 03, 2015 8:45 am

Thanks for the warning Andrew!

I will look at the Edison.

Jeroen Vriesman
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Re: Microcontrollers - Arduino

Post by Jeroen Vriesman » Tue Mar 03, 2015 11:38 am

Andrew, there seems to be a fix in the latest kernel for the PHY failure on boot: (I could not find a proper changelog)

https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic ... mctrG26Mc8[1-25]

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Andrew Robinson
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Re: Microcontrollers - Arduino

Post by Andrew Robinson » Tue Mar 03, 2015 10:32 pm

Thanks for the notice. I have been following that exact thread since it started well over a year ago. We just started yet another test the other day. Currently we're on Kernel 3.8.13-bone50, but I'll look into 3.8.13-bone70. So far so good though.
I can wire anything directly into anything! I'm the professor!

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Re: Microcontrollers - Arduino

Post by prestonbarrows » Thu Mar 05, 2015 9:00 pm

Labjacks are a nice alternative for arduinos. Same basic ideaof simple DAQ/control cards but with higher speeds, higher resolutions, and the ability to run through almost any programming language (python, labview, java, C/C++, Matlab, Igor, and a bunch more). This all comes at the slightly higher price point of about $100, but that includes high quality hardware and very responsive/knowledgeable technical support. Comes in nice beefy packaging with screw terminals so you you don't need to mess with enclosures or 'shields' later on. The one down side is it needs to be connected to a PC and can't really run 'headless'.
http://labjack.com/

The De0 nano is a nice option too. It is FPGA based so somewhat of a different animal. You can write fast code directly in hardware without the need of a controller computer. That comes at the expense of having to work up programs in FPGA language, but that is not too big of a deal since it comes with software to do most of the heavy lifting for you so you can put in pseudocode and not have to deal with the FPGA language yourself. Costs about $70.
http://www.terasic.com.tw/cgi-bin/page/ ... .pl?No=593

Edisons are very nice but a bit on the delicate side for garage work in EMP environments.

Brian_Neumeyer
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Re: Microcontrollers - Arduino

Post by Brian_Neumeyer » Mon Mar 09, 2015 6:26 pm

I know the Arduino IDE and language can be cumbersome, but I believe that there is a way to program directly in C++ and Java if that is your cup of tea. With some preliminary googleing I don't think that it would be that difficult.

Also, it is a good point to ask if it is the proper tool for the job. Why use an overpowered tool for the job when a simple switch or circuit will do? That said, it is useful for people looking to get started in embedded systems.

One last note, there are several versions of Arduino with various levels of performance. There are also many other micro boards that are similar, such as beagleboard, raspberry pi, intel's newton and Galileo. When specing out a project do due diligence and research a few options before pulling the trigger. Arduino is a nice option though, and the community is pretty extensive.

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