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Coming Soon: Microcontroller Contest Answered

Hear ye, hear ye! We will be starting a microcontroller contest on January 17. It will be a relatively short contest (3-4 weeks long). So, if you're working on something, wait until then to publish. If you weren't, maybe now is the time to try out an Arduino or any other microcontroller.

More info next week.

UPDATE:
We have partnered with SparkFun for the contest! We will be giving away:

3 First Prizes - $250 worth of goods from SparkFun + laser-etched Leatherman Squirt E4 + Prize Pack
5 Second Prizes - $50 worth of goods from SparkFun + laser-etched Leatherman Squirt E4 + Prize Pack
5 Runners-Up Prizes - laser-etched Leatherman Squirt E4 + Prize Pack

UPDATE 2:

The contest is now live. See it here.

47 Replies

user
Goodhart (author)2011-01-08

Where is the best place to pick up one (and detailed instructions since I am a total noob in this area), for the least amount of monetary outlay (to your knowledge anyways)?

I'd love to use this as an introduction to them.

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user

you can get arduinos almost anywhere online like ebay, amazon, makershed.
and you can get the pic chips from ebay in bulk or i hear you can get them off amazon too

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user

Well, like I said, I haven't any practice nor experience with anything but simple logic chips (boolean logic) and CMOS chips, nothing on the order of a up.

So I'd need instructions that were detailed (hand holding) until I got the hang of it.   Since I have been around since the "tube" era, it shouldn't be too hard to pick up, but I don't want to spend $50 and then fry it either :-)

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Kiteman (author)Goodhart2011-01-15

Have you seen PICAXE?

http://www.rev-ed.co.uk/picaxe/picaxe

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Goodhart (author)Kiteman2011-01-15

No I hadn't, but a quick browse of The Site (minus that last picaxe on your link, as that didn't work for me); and I see prices in the £42.00 (£50.40 inc. VAT) on up category, and if I am not mistaken, that  £42 translates into about $90-$125 for me.   Or about 3+ times more then I can spend on myself in any given month :-) 
But it certainly does look intriguing :-) Thanks for the link, I shall add it to my list of things to think about.

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tinyinkling (author)Goodhart2011-01-17

It sounds like you're shopping in Europe and looking at paying and shipping to the US. If that's so, you might check out the US-based distributors -- SparkFun, AdaFruit, MakerShed, Modern Devices, and others. You should be looking at about $30 for a USB-enabled Arduino or Freeduino.

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Goodhart (author)tinyinkling2011-01-17

That would be more in line with what I might be able to do, but I haven't seen prices that low anywhere, unless I have missed what I should be looking for. Since I will need this to be as simple as possible, for the first few times, I can't just buy a chip.

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jeff-o (author)Goodhart2011-01-18


Auduino!  http://www.robotshop.ca/arduino-microcontroller-modules.html

Propeller!  http://www.robotshop.ca/propeller-microcontrollers.html

PicAXE!  http://www.robotshop.ca/picaxe-microcontrollers-3.html




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Goodhart (author)jeff-o2011-01-18

Thanks, I will have to look at them closer when I get home. I still have "doubts" about "what" I need (basic at this point, still able to do more with it then blink some LEDs).

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jeff-o (author)Goodhart2011-01-18

Well, think about what you want to do, and maybe we can steer you in the right direction!

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Goodhart (author)jeff-o2011-01-19

Well, I do want to start by controlling some small motors and levers and such (forward/reverse/side to side, etc). Nothing fancy to begin with, but hopefully it will accommodate expansion into more complex "jobs".

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Goodhart (author)Goodhart2011-01-19

I'm just a bit skiddish about just buying something for $30+ and then finding I can't really use it "without another piece" or without a "shield" or "attachment" or whatever....because then it might have to sit for awhile (with the potential of getting lost in my small portion of my workroom).

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jeff-o (author)Goodhart2011-01-19

Well, if you've got a breadboard then you can build (or at least prototype) a lot of projects simply by hooking up jumper wires between the dev board and the breadboard. Then you muck about without much more outlay, aside from the individual components you're using.

Some microcontroller boards (like the Arduino Mini) are even designed to be plugged directly into a breadboard.

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Goodhart (author)jeff-o2011-01-19

Thank you, I will check into this further....probably not in time for the contest,
but maybe before the next one :-)

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user

you dont always need a shield most of the time you can already control thing like a servo with potentiometer and a bunch of other thing then if you want a shield they help make some thing easier the only shield i have right now is the proto shield witn mini breadboard you can get those real cheap on ebay

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user

Thank you, I will check into this further....probably not in time for the contest, but maybe before the next one :-)

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user

thats ok there lots of tutorials and instructibles to get you started with arduino if you get the uno which is the most popular if you happen to fry the chip you can replace it for like 3 bucks

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user

Yes, it is that initial outlay that is holding me back at the moment.

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Kiteman (author)Goodhart2011-01-16

There's a decent-looking PICaxe on ebay.co.uk, under $30 - here.

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user

thats fine really the chip shouldnt get damaged if you buy an original arduino plus because its a dip chip and has a socket you can program the chip and then put it a more permanent application

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user

also the pic controllers i think are a little harder to program because you need .hex files where arduino has its own ide

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user

Thanks for the assistance.

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black235 (author)2011-01-14

waaw.., i like that..., but could i use other microcontroller...just like AtMega...??

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user

yes the atmegas are microcontrollers the arduino is a good development platform if your getting started. i like the arduin better than pics and propellers but i do use microchips pic controllers too. just the arduino has its own programmer and ide plus you can take the chip out and put it into a more permanent circuit

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neologik (author)2011-01-17

is the contest already begins?

i found no official information, today is monday 17.

;)

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fungus amungus (author)neologik2011-01-17

It will be up soon. If you publish today it will be eligible.

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jeff-o (author)2011-01-15

If you really want to dip your toes into the shallow end of micro controller programming, I suggest checking out a parallax propeller based developer board, combined with a program called 12blocks. Go ahead, do a search here on instructables! 12blocks makes it easy to program one of the most powerful micro controllers out there, simply by dragging colorful blocks into a stack. Once you're past the basics, you can start making your own blocks, writing code into the blocks, or other neat tricks.

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tinyinkling (author)2011-01-15

Just for clarification, Arduino is not a micro controller. It is a platform which makes programming micro controllers easier. And it does make it much easier.

Most of the Arduino builds use some form of an ATMega chip. Another system for playing with the ATMega is the Atmel Butterfly, documented at length at SmileyMicros.com

For PICs, the PICKits are Microchip's environment for programming and experimenting.

Radio Shack often carries one of two of the Parallax BASIC Stamp micro controller kits in store. That will set you up to use their line of chips including the Propeller.

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Kiteman (author)2011-01-08

Will we be restricted to Arduino?

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fungus amungus (author)Kiteman2011-01-08

No. Title is microcontroller contest, not arduino contest.

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user

we can still use arduino right

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Kiteman (author)fungus amungus2011-01-08

Cool.

As Jeff-O asked, any hints on prizes?

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jeff-o (author)fungus amungus2011-01-10

Awwwww.... :(

Well ok, I'll be patient.

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Goodhart (author)Kiteman2011-01-08

I wouldn't think so since the picture is of a PIC chip.

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gr33n (author)2011-01-14

Would anyone like to donate a Micro-controller this way?

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The Skinnerz (author)2011-01-12

Looks like this should be a good one!!

More importantly, Rapid have got some good deals on various PIC chips at the moment, and all the other hardware needed to make a great project.

Good luck.

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neologik (author)2011-01-12

oh great!
this will work as PIC tutorials too.
i am entering to the microcontroller World,
and this will be useful for us.

;)

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PaulMakesThings (author)2011-01-07

"If you weren't, maybe now is the time to try out an Arduino."

There are also PIC, AVR, and Propeller microcontrollers, to name a few more popular ones. Unlike arduinos these come as just a chip (an arduino board contains an AVR), you need to build a circuit to supply them with proper power but they are very cheap and flexible. They do have a bit steeper of a learning curve, but all have good source code and examples available.

Instead of going on and on, here's an excellent instructable someone else wrote about them.
https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-choose-a-MicroController/

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user

I knew I forgot to add "and other microcontrollers" up there. Yes, yes, we're well aware of the many different microcontrollers, which is why it's not an Arduino contest.

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electrosam (author)2011-01-08

Nice to hear some contest on Electronics !
Might do something with PIC :)

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jeff-o (author)2011-01-08

How, uh, significant will the prizes be? I just need to know how much sleep I'll be getting in the next 3-4 weeks... ;)

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kyle brinkerhoff (author)2011-01-07

bout time! kinda lame though cause im not gonna be around for it :/

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brunoip (author)2011-01-07