STK500 or EasyAVR3?

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(Newbie 1st post - as a refugee from the PICAXE environment http://www.rev-ed.co.uk/picaxe/.... hi everyone!)

So if I want to get into AVRs (which I do!) which is recommended?

The de-facto (it seems to me) STK 500 or the EasyAVR3 (http://www.mikroelektronika.co.y...)?

Or something else?

Regards, Martin

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STK500 seems ok for me... I'm using it for few years, nothing to complain about...
EasyAVR3 looks good, but I never used it. You can try any flavour you like! :-)

Real men don't use backups, they post their stuff on a public ftp server and let the rest of the world make copies.

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I just noticed while on the Easy AVR site that some of the modules like the CAN board, RTC DAC, and a couple of the others plug directly into the IDC connector which look to be the same pin layout as the STK500, so asumeing the modules physically fit you could use them on an STK500. all those buttons and LED's on the EasyAVR seem a bit overkill.The built in DAC thermometer and SD connection is nice though. For the price the EasyAVR seem nice, though the STK500 is supported directly by Atmel with pretty much garunteed functionality with all existing or upcoming AVR chips. You could always get an STK500 and a couple of the modules that interest you.

-Curiosity may have killed the cat
-But that's why they have nine lives

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Martin!

IMHO it's not only a hardware question. You should also take into consideration what software works with the EasyAVR3. For example, what programming protocol does it speak? Can You program (="burn AVR FLASH") with AVRStudio (if that is, or will be, Your development software of choice).

What language will You be programming in (C? Assembler? ...)

Aside: For me the STK500 would be the ideal development platform if it had an integrated JTAG module. As it stands now it's only really, really good.

One plus that I see for the EasyAVR3 is that it has a header ready for a industry standard LCD character module. (Not sure, but I think that the board have circuitry for contrast adjustment, and maybe for backlighting adjustment also.)

@Sceadwian: Interesting observation on the "plug compatibility" of some of the Mikroelektronika modules. I'll be heading over for a look.

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I took a look at the EasyAVR3 Web page. It has some stuff the STK500 doesn't, like the pots & card slot.

On the other side, we use the STK500 mainly as an ISP/pwer supply when we do our dev & prototypes. It isn't clear if you can use the EasyAVR3 to ISP program external targets as you can by attaching to the 6-pin or 10-pin ISP headers on the STK500. Similarly, we use the setting of Vcc to different levels quite a bit; some targets are 2.8V and have subsystems that cannot tolerate over 3V; some are 3.3 & not over 3.6; etc. The STK500 is very adept at that, as well as adjusting AREF. And don't overlook the variable ISP speed for programming AVRs running at 1MHz. :)

Lee

You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.

I've never met a pig I didn't like, as long as you have some salt and pepper.

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It looks to me like the EasyAVR3 is something you would find in a college microprocessor lab, and the STK-500 is something you would find in an engineering lab.

It's hard to beat the functionality of a STK-500, and I would buy a second one before I bought an EasyAVR3.

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You need the stk500 in case you set the flags wrong and have to use high-voltage programming to rescue an AVR. The stk500 is worth every penny of 80$.

The EasyAVR3 is better than the stk500 as a development board..it has way more bells and whistles. (I want one!)

Therefore, I say get them both :)

I have an EasyPIC dev board from ME and I just love it.

Their dev boards need an option to have Zif sockets instead of the low profile
ic sockets that come standard...but the stk500 also has this shortcoming.
(I put Zifs on my EasyPIC)

If the EasyAVR3 saves you lots of time setting up experiments and such(and it will)
then it has to be worth what it cost...and the USB programmer on board is nice too
since you can use the board with a laptop that has no serial port.
Do order any add-on items for the board at the same time, as the 25$ shipping from
Serbia is prohibitive if you order just a small item or two. And be aware that it can
sometimes take a few weeks to get stuff delivered from ME.

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After reading through the manual a bit it appears the USB programmer only works in ISP mode. The STK500 suports high voltage programming which you may find you need. The STK500 has a few more things going for it, the VCC and VREF voltage going to the AVR are programmable in software. As far as versatility goes an STK500 a breadboard and a handful of passive components would get you a lot further than an EasyAVR. The built in support for the LCD's is nice, but for starting out the extra RS232 port on the STK500 gives you plenty of I/O and debug possibilities, LCD's are good for projects not for mounting on development boards.

-Curiosity may have killed the cat
-But that's why they have nine lives

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As far as the optional plug-ins are concerned, I don't think you can use them directly on an STK500 for two reasons:
1 - The pins are compatible except that it looks like the +5 and gnd pins are swapped.
2 - There is a note on the page with the plug-ins saying that they don't sell them separately, you have to buy one of their programmers at the same time.

Regards,
Steve A.

The Board helps those that help themselves.

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Yeah, just noticed that, was logging back on to edit my last post but looks like you got here first =) I couldn't find any note that you can't buy the plug-in's seperatly though, and I had no problem getting to the check out screen with just a module on it. Though the VCC/GND thing is a bit annoying.

-Curiosity may have killed the cat
-But that's why they have nine lives

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I had checked out the site this morning. The note that I had found is on this page. You might still be able to buy them separately though. I hope so, there are a couple that I would like to have. If not, they do have the schematics for everything, so you could make them yourself.

Regards,
Steve A.

The Board helps those that help themselves.

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Thanks chaps!

Looks like the STK500 wins out, but it doesn't seem a complete no-brainer...if only it had the LEDs and the USB programming facility of the EasyAVR3...!

I *think* that development with AVR Studio and the EasyAVR3 is a 2-stage affair - create the hex in AVR studio and then use the mikroelektronika AVR USB programmer to program the AVR i.e. not very integrated. Might be a PITA. Have I got this right?

Maybe I get a new EasyAVR3, as they are a new model, to get me going with AVR and then wait around on eBay for a s/h STK500?

I'm in the UK - using local distributors I can get the EasyAVR3 delivered for about 106GBP (including the LCD, GLCD and DS1820) and the STK 500 delivered for about 101GBP. Makes the EasyAVR3 look better value for money?

Any more thoughts? Ta, Martin

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It does have LEDs and pushbuttons Martin, 8 each. You should never need more than that for simple debuging or begging experiments, the button and LED array on the EasyAVR doesn't seem like it would be very useful, if you need to communicate more information than 8 LED's or need more input than you can get from 8 buttons you should be using a serial port connected to a computer or some other custom interface. The USB programming facility isn't particularly useful either as you can pick up a serial to USB converter for the STK500 for a few bucks as well. Check Digikey.com and see what their price and deliver would be they deliver to the UK. Keep in mind the first time you accidentally miss program a fuse that requires high voltage programming or a custom clock rate from the programmer the EasyAVR is gonna be useless.

-Curiosity may have killed the cat
-But that's why they have nine lives

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Hmmm....looks like the STK500 then :) Now to find the cheapest supplier in the UK...

Thanks - great forum so far, and I suspect there may be a few more newbee questions soon

Actually I have one now - I'll try it here, but maybe a new thread would be better....

The app I have in mind has:
- config data that can be altered by the user via a PC app and then via the serial port from a PC - targetting EEPROM
- a good chance that the software will be enhanced over time and freely distributed to the user community. They will want to be able to upload the new program - targetting the FLASH - via a PC app and then via the serial port on the PC

They will be non-technical users, so the config data app will be very simple (probably VB) and likewise the program upload app. Or the latter might even be a DOS command line utility.

I know this can be done on the *cough* Motorola *cough* microcontrollers (somehow), but I'm not sure how to do either from the AVR devices without something like AVR Studio which is *far* too complex for my user community

Best regards, Martin

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Many AVR's support a boot loader which you can program using any method you chose (in your case serial) the bootloader can be seperatly protected from program flash to prevent user snafu's. You can use any protocal you design and can cram into the AVR and there are a few user projects out there that include an encrypted boot loader if you want to get real exotic. Check out the devices section here, they allow you to see the entire AVR chip set with a feature to feature comparison. Also a good way to start getting comfortable with what an AVR can do is pick a simple AVR, like one of the smaller Mega's or one of the more feature rich tiny's and read the PDF from cover to cover.

-Curiosity may have killed the cat
-But that's why they have nine lives

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MartinM57

I live in Ireland and I purchased my STK500 from dontronics(www.dontronics.com) in Australia.They offer a very quick service. no VAT to pay.Much cheaper than UK prices.

Gerry

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Thanks Gerry

While you were typing this (unknown to me, of course) I was just ordering my STK500 from Farnell in the UK!

At least it will be here tomorrow ;-)

Thanks, Martin

PS Any views on this downloader for ATMega8? I dowloaded it and it compiles fine, I just don't have anything to run it on yet! I definitely need one and I definitely don't want to re-invent a wheel
http://www.dl5neg.de/bootloader/...