[time-nuts] Follow-up question re: microcontroller families

Bob Camp lists at rtty.us
Sun May 26 13:33:06 EDT 2013


If you head over to the auction sites and do a bit of creative digging / bidding, the Arduino clones are amazingly cheap. They easily beat the $12 or so Freescale and TI demo boards by a wide margin cost wise. Bang for the buck wise, indeed the demo boards win out. For blinking a LED, running out of horsepower isn't a major concern with any of them. 


On May 26, 2013, at 1:19 PM, Chris Albertson <albertson.chris at gmail.com> wrote:

> A fan controller (8-pin DIP package) is simple enough to build on perf
> board.  But mostly I agree that it is best to buy these on PCBs.  You can
> use them right out of the box.   I do have an Arduino and it's advantage is
> that you can build very fast.   I had a device that measured the resistance
> across a pot and displayed the value on a 2x16 LCD working about 40 minutes
> after I got the Arduino un-boxed.  It is easy and fast.   But they cost a
> few $$
> A cheaper alternative I think I like is TI's "launchpads"  They come on
> little credit card sized PCBs and the concept of very much the same as
> Arduino.  TI sells several.  One is a $13 ARM Cortex M4.  It is a complete
> development system.  The other is a MSP430 version for $10.  But with the
> MSP versionyou can remove the uP after it is programmer if you like, or
> leave it on the board.   These prices include shipping.  $13 is good pice
> for an ARM on a breakout board.
> They also sell an assortment of  "booster boards" that plug in and provide
> all kinds of interfaces, pretty much the same concept as Arduino "shields"
> More info here:
> /launchpad/overview_head.html<http://www.ti.com/ww/en/launchpad/overview_head.html>
> On Sun, May 26, 2013 at 9:18 AM, Jim Lux <jimlux at earthlink.net> wrote:
>> On 5/26/13 9:00 AM, Chris Albertson wrote:
>>>> But for many applications, the inevitable overhead
>>>> (power, heat, external components, OS, etc) simply
>>>> eliminates the gain of having a better/faster CPU.
>>>> Sometimes I end up using a 6 or 8 pin PIC with only
>>>> a few lines of code to to solve complex problems where
>>>> a (F)PGA/CPLD design would be a lot of work and a
>>>> 16/32bit microcontroller simply overkill.
>>> As it turns out there are a LOT more simple jobs than there are
>>> complex jobs.  This is why they make and sel a lot motr 8-t
>>> controllers than they sell 32-bit controllers.
>>> For example I want to control the cooling fan for a rubidium
>>> oscillator's heat sink.   I only need three pins, 1) the temperature
>>> sensor, 2) Fan tachometer pulse, fan voltage.  A $1 "tiny AVR" 8-pin
>>> chip can handle this just fine and we are talking about 20 lines of
>>> code maybe after the pins are set up.  Using an ARM and running an OS
>>> would be silly overkill.
>> The other thing is packaging and peripherals..not to mention development
>> time.  It might be more "cost effective" (where cost is some complex
>> conglomeration of your time and money) to always use the same part, even
> if
>> overkill.
>> Some people are happy to layout a new PCB, get it fabbed (or make it
>> themselves) or deadbug it.  Others might want a board with terminal
> strips.
>> Or you might want something that you have a box for or maybe you like
>> mounting it inside.
>> I think everyone has their favorites, and most folks tend to have
> relatively
>> few candidates at any given time (it's difficult to switch among various
>> processors on a day to day basis).  Right now, I tend to use Matlab on PCs
>> for big things, with some python.  For smaller needs, I've been using lots
>> of Arduino Uno R3s and Teensy3s, because of the packaging.  Both using the
>> Arduino semi-C tool chain and also the non-arduino compilers.  (having a
>> boot loader, etc, does make life easier).
>> I've used PICs and Rabbits in the not too recent past, but the Rabbits
> don't
>> have as nice a development environment, and there's no equivalent of the
> $20
>> Arduino, nor the plethora of cheap interfaces to things like relays and
> what
>> not.
>> I haven't looked much at whether a low cost PIC on a board with
> peripherals
>> is available. They've always been a "build a circuit" either with
> perfboard,
>> deadbug, or small PCB, and that makes it take a few more hours or days.
>> For the "I want to finish the project this weekend starting Saturday
>> afternoon", the whole arduino world is pretty convenient, at least as far
> as
>> getting the hardware put together and a first load of software running.
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> --
> Chris Albertson
> Redondo Beach, California
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