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Best starter microcontroller for project? Answered

Yes, i have already visited https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-choose-a-MicroController/, and it did not help me much.

My last question was a bit ambitious, so I decided to restart with some more info.
The project requires: (8) LED; (9)Toggle Switches; (2) Variable Resistors; [1] Relay (20 total)

I'm new to this whole thing so I don't know which controller to choose. I did a bit of research, and I think the arduino will do what I need it to. But I don't know if the ATmega168 can be used without the board. (I need about 5 units). Will the arduino suit my needs? Or is there something better out there?

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Now take that spec apart, you need enough outputs to drive 28 devices, enough inputs to receive 9 and you have two analogue inputs as well.

This is a very good intro to rolling your own uC project
http://itp.nyu.edu/physcomp/Tutorials/ArduinoBreadboard#toc6

There are loads of different processors that will do what you want. Used bare-bones, an Atmega168 won't hack it. You'll have to expand its I/O somehow. You can expand the I/O with a single smart chip, driven over SPI, or you can roll your own with serial to parallel converter chips. I happen to like the Maxim MAX 7301 for doing that, but if you haven't had much experience, writing a driver would be pretty daunting.
http://www.maxim-ic.com/quick_view2.cfm/qv_pk/3371/t/al

Steve

Hi Steve, I have only 1 concern: 28 devices? If you don't mind, could you tell me where those 8 extra devices came from? (I'm sure I'm overlooking something) Last time I checked the arduino specs, it had 20 pins.

I mis read the last item as 20 relays ! Sorry ! Yes, it'll fit in an Atmega Steve