I'm Curious about micro controllers but I dont understand cause Im a newbie to begin using them

Okay, I see you can use an arduino to program microcontrollers. But I dont understand how you make your project stand alone afterwards... Do you go buy another programmer? I get TOO Much info on the net to put this in perspective... could someone please help?
by the way are microcontrollers and an arduino the same thing... is there something better... less expensive... what does Texas instruments have for less than 5$?

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rickharris5 years ago
Although not about Aduino I can do nothing better than direct you to read the following 3 PDF manuals that apply in principle to all micro controllers and in specific language to the Picaxe range.



Interfacing (connecting to the real world.)
If you use an arduino to prototype your project then hooke it all up to the arduino board for testing. Once you have everything wired up and the Arduino programed and running correctly you can move into a more permanent final product. You can remove the ATMega chip from the Arduino board (if it doesn't use an SMD microcontroller) and solder it into your own PCB. Or you can design your own shield for your hardware to mount to and plug directly into the arduino.  For a stand alone board all you need is 5V feeding into the correct pins on the chip and a 14Mhz crystal on pins 9 and 10. Then the rest of your hardware can be attached to the pins as needed. Here is a simple diagram of the micro controller chip and what pin on the chip correspond to what pins on the Arduino board.
BluTiger (author)  mpilchfamily5 years ago
What is a shield?
An Arduino shield is a circuit board designed to plug into the pins of an Arduino board. There are a great number of Arduino shields available to perform many different functions using the Arduino. You can make your own shield. Just make sure the header pins you use will line up with the headers on the Arduino. Then the board can be securely plugged into and even fastened down to the Arduino board.

Read about Shields here.
BluTiger (author) 5 years ago
MSP430 LaunchPad
Is this a programmer?
From what I've seen, the Arduino is one of the easiest microcontrollers to learn to use. There does not appear to be anything particularly special about the chips it uses, so they can be run without the programmer with only a few other components.

If you want a cheaper microcontroller, PIC chips are widely supported, and are designed to run on their own. The individual chips start from 50P, and a new USB programmer is only £30, while self assembly and serial port programmers are much less. However some of the ones with more features can be difficult to start with.

Overall, Arduino is easier, and should run without the programmer, but PIC chips are cheaper and more versatile but can be difficult for beginners.
There are indeed basic options as compilers. i have nothing to do with Picaxe other than a very happy user of 100;s in the educational world so i am very familiar with the trials of learning a programing language and how to interface etc.

Picaxe manuals and support forum are second to none.

Unless you have a dire need for speed for the average interested person the steep learning curve for machine code or C makes them give in before they achieve much.

At least in basic they have a chance to understand the underlying principle and get a real program working in some kind of real time.

I taught this to 12 year old kids it can't be that hard.
For only a little more than the bare PIC chip you can get a Picaxe and program in Basic without the steep learning curve for C
I haven't tried any significant amount of programming in C, but I would have said that being able to program the chips in assembly would be a better place to start, at least in terms of gaining an understanding to get the most out of it. Also, there appears to be a BASIC compiler for regular PICs.