There are several things you need to do before learning AVR. First of all, you need an AVR chip. You better choose megaAVR series, so you don’t need to worry about the lack of peripherals when required. Atmega8, Atmega16, or further mega’s will do correctly. Probably chose in DIP package as it will easily fit in breadboard for fast prototyping. Development boards are great to work with, primarily designed for learning and prototyping. Any Arduino board can be used with no problem, as it has all the necessary means to serve as a general-purpose dev board. Anyway, I leave this up you for a while.
The next thing is the programmer. This is where you can get a headache. Really! In a few words, a programmer is a cable/device used to upload firmware (compiled program) to chip. Programmers can be connected to the computer via various ports, including parallel (LPT), serial (COM), and USB. Or there can be no programmer at all if the chip has a bootloader set up. But this will be discussed later. These were two hardware parts that may empty your pocket a little. But don’t worry. Chips are as cheap as a few bucks. The programmer can also be made by you only with several cheap parts if needed.
The next important thing is development tools – software where you will write your programs and compile them for uploading to chip. Here you will be surprised – these will cost nothing for you. The first one which you can start downloading is AVRStudio developed by Atmel itself. This is “must have” software as it is free, with lots of valuable features. Second essential software that has to be downloaded right away is WinAVR, a compiler tool. These packages have to be installed to deploy fully featured tools. When having those, you will be able to do all necessary tasks from the same program window. We will discuss them a more detailed manner in the following posts. For now, install the latest WinAVR and AVRStudio no additional setting is required.
How to choose suitable microcontroller for your next project
When it comes to choosing a microcontroller for your next project, there are several factors to consider beyond the traditional debate of 8-bit vs 16-bit or 32-bit. While the selection of the right microcontroller largely depends on the specific requirements of your project, there are some general factors that should be considered before making a decision.
- Performance and Power Consumption: A microcontroller’s performance and power consumption are important factors to consider when choosing one. In general, higher-performance microcontrollers consume more power, limiting your device’s battery life. On the other hand, a low-performance microcontroller may not be able to handle the requirements of your project.
- Available Peripherals: The peripherals available on a microcontroller are also a key factor to consider. Depending on your project, you may need specific peripherals such as USB, Ethernet, or Wi-Fi. Some microcontrollers come with built-in peripherals, while others may require additional components to add the required peripherals.
- Development Tools and Ecosystem: A microcontroller’s development tools and ecosystem are critical factors to consider. You want to ensure that you can easily find a development environment and the documentation for your chosen microcontroller. The availability of libraries, code examples, and community support can also make a big difference in the ease of development.
- Cost: The cost of a microcontroller is also an important consideration. You want to ensure that the microcontroller’s cost fits within your project’s budget. Additionally, it would help if you considered the long-term costs of maintenance and support for the microcontroller.
- Availability and Longevity: Finally, you want to ensure that the microcontroller you choose is readily available and has a long life cycle. You don’t want to choose a microcontroller that will become obsolete in a few years, leaving you with unsupported hardware and software.
While the choice of the microcontroller is mainly dependent on the specific requirements of your project, there are several factors to consider beyond the traditional debates of 8-bit vs 16-bit or 32-bit. By taking into account the factors outlined above, you can make an informed decision that will set your project up for success.