Newbie Self Induced Autocomplication

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Hey guys, I'm a newbie. Yeah, pretty much a newbie to microcontrollers, a newbie to programming, and a newbie to hobby robotics.

I've got an Associates EE from about 10 years ago lol... and while I'm glad it's still up in my noggin somewhat, an AS EE doesn't exactly get you prepared for the microcontroller world.

What I'd really like to do is get into hobby robotics. The problem is I find myself complicating things in the following manner:

1) I read about a robot.

2) It's capabilities don't impress me a whole lot.

3) I think how much more cool it would be under control of a MC.

4) I end up chasing different ideas and trying to figure out so much that I don't do anything.

So basically, are AVR MC's newbie friendly? I wouldn't know having no experience with any of them. I understand they can be programmed in C, which is cool because while I'm not a syntax buff I understand the concepts of C.

I've been looking at the projects on this site and there was one for an remote control submersible vehicle that appeared to be programmed in some form of basic? Then of course there is assembly... so... it's like information overload.

A long time ago I was interested in HTML and I just basically looked at source until it started making sense. But that's a very visual output oriented language.

Seems like alot of the projects here involve multiple code files which I wasn't expecting either. I need to be looking at projects that like... when you push a button, an LED comes on. Then you change it a bit and OOOH it stays on!

Does anyone know of any newbie oriented microcontroller books/videos/sites? Should I just pick up one of those starter kit dealies and start hacking away? Sorry if this post annoys people :(

I will be poking around the forums, but if anyone has any directions for me to go I'm all ears.

Thanks!

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sakko wrote:

Does anyone know of any newbie oriented microcontroller books/videos/sites?
Thanks!

Yep! Check out:

http://www.smileymicros.com/

Smileymicros is a regular here. Between his book/kit, Smiley himself and, the AVRFreaks forum, you'll get all of the help you'll need.

Once you get thru the experiments in the book using the Butterfly and the Mega196, you'll be familiar enough to decide on what particular AVR flavor suites your fancy.

Enjoy! And, welcome...

You can avoid reality, for a while.  But you can't avoid the consequences of reality! - C.W. Livingston

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Here are my thoughts on a logical progression, although I have actually just blundered my way though learning...

1. Get a popular development kit (this way you'll get lots of very specific help)
2. Learn the tools. Write a program, or follow an example, compile, download, observe, and play (lots of encouraging progress here)
2b. |!2b (sorry -feeble joke) Try out the AVR studio simulator. Note: It is not perfect. timers and such may not work as expected.
3. Do something with LEDs and switches (if not covered by #2)
4. Learn about timers. PWM can control LEDs. There is an aweful lot of reading the datasheets here, but it is a foundation skill.
5. Experiment with timer interrupts.
6. Learn about switch debouncing and input conditioning.
6b. Analog to Digital conversion concepts should be understandable at this point.
7. See how you get on driving motors and relays. (Sound electronic skills and practical experience of problems such as noise).
8. Now you get to programming the heart of a system. Using a timer to schedule regular actions is pretty common, as is triggering on external signals.
9. Getting a serial interface to work is essential to tracing through a program, if you don't have the luxury of a jtag debugger (get one if you can).

Above all, keep things modular, and build up your robotics application in stages.

Wishing you a most edifying experience. Have fun.

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Guys thanks for the tips... soon as I can get the wife to stop spending like a drunken freakin sailor, I plan on getting started at smileymicros... Brox your methodology sounds like a plan...