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Newbie asking 4 Hints on a board to practice on

Discussion in 'Embedded' started by E.Da Ros, Dec 28, 2003.

  1. E.Da Ros

    E.Da Ros Guest

    Hello to everyone,

    I wish to begin to work on embedded systems, i've got some years of
    experience with C++, and i bought (and read) some book about the argument. I
    wish to know in yours opinion on what kind of processor i could begin to
    practice. On one of the book i read there was examples with Intel 80188EB,
    but i founded only 300$ boards and so on! I wish to find sometihng cheap, i
    could even build the board by myself having some experience in electronics
    (but analogue unlickily!)

    Any help greatly appreciated

    to reply directly write to
    moving away the sonoio.

    E.Da Ros
    from Italy

    Ps, excuse my awful english!
    E.Da Ros, Dec 28, 2003
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  2. Hi,
    Similar to yourself, I was in search of a cheap little embedded board to
    my code on. I managed to get hold of the Flashlite 186 board made by
    JK Micro - see http://www.jkmicro.com/products/flashlite186.html
    at 99 USD plus shipping for the board, cables, PSU and Borland Turbo C++
    ver 4.52. This is a great little board and you can also add a Disk-on-Chip
    give it some extra storage. It runs a DOS like OS, but the documentation on
    this OS isn't too good.
    I bought mine in the UK, but there are other European distributors listed.


    Colin MacDougall, Dec 28, 2003
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  3. E.Da Ros

    Chris Hills Guest

    No.... All replies will do to the NG. That is the idea of them the
    answers help/hinder all equally. Also the answers can be discussed
    openly and opinions aired.

    Why do you want to work on embedded systems? what do you want to do?

    The most common embedded processor on the planet is the 8051 and there
    is a vast amount of in expensive support for it. working boards from

    PIC is common and has inexpensive tools.

    Neither will (really) run an RTOS or C++.

    Why do you need x86 and C++? x86 is not common in embedded work (186
    and 386 were).

    Work out what you want to do and why and ask again.

    I would suggest 8051 and C or an old 286 PC and a free DOS (with source
    code) and a Borland compiler. However if you are in to comms then Power
    PC (or an old 68K board).... id depends on what you want to achieve.

    \/\/\/\/\ Chris Hills Staffs England /\/\/\/\/\
    /\/\/ www.phaedsys.org \/\/
    Chris Hills, Dec 28, 2003
  4. E.Da Ros

    E.Da Ros Guest

    First thanks to Colin for your answer!
    Second i'll begin to answer!
    Basically i worked for some years on trading-on line back ends with vc++,
    than i begun with java (and i don't like it so much, 'cuz of too much
    strange things that Sun create :p ) in my opinion (humble and radical!! )
    i don't like that, i hope this will not be intended as flaming, and i beg
    your pardon if i was offensive before but i don't like it!
    Ok given these basis, i want to work on limited, small, well done code. Last
    year i had to do (i feel bad 4 that) 700 lines of Js code in a single stupid
    webpage 'cuz my chiefs wanted to finish asap and told me: "optimization,
    doesn't matter; components? what language are you speaking? reuse? reuse is
    selling the app to other companies!!!

    So i wish to do small "cammeo" or at least things that MUST WORK (i beg your
    pardon for capital letters but is my biggest dream) or bad things happens.
    Where there are possibles time limits!!!

    But i need experience... and you could make experience by working on the
    systems by yourself or by other people! How could i achieve that, i asked to
    me..my answer was: take some board and begin to do some exercice and you'll
    That's a good thing! 50$ is ok!
    Uh-oh i don't understand, what you mean with PIC
    i simply love C++ (and all that is below that like asm :) ) and about x86
    is just cuz of the book i read "Programming Embedded Systems" by M.Barr
    I admit that it was not clear why and what, is that my chief always tells
    when i write relations on meeting (ah yes i even hate to write what happens
    into meetings :p )
    My first goal is to tell basically that i tried to use some kind of embedded
    systems and in general i've got some starting point form wich evolve
    (finding the right job)

    Thank you 2 everyone for the answers!!

    to reply directly write to
    moving away the sonoio.

    E.Da Ros
    from Italy

    Ps, excuse my awful english!
    E.Da Ros, Dec 28, 2003
  5. E.Da Ros

    Gary Kato Guest

    PIC is a microcontroller made by Microchip Technology. PIC has been around
    (like the 8051) for a very long time and has evolved. There are several
    families of PIC that use a common set of instructions. More sophisticated PICs
    have a larger instruction set. The PIC-18 family is the high-end where it is
    possible to use C. The intermediate family is the PIC-16, which doesn't really
    have the support needed for C. See www.microchip.com to read about it.

    Some companies have free development software that include simulators so you
    can learn the instruction set of the microcontroller without hardware. Atmel's
    AVR Studio (for their AVR microcontroller) and Microchip's MPLAB are both free
    to download and have simulators.
    Gary Kato, Dec 28, 2003
  6. E.Da Ros

    Amused Guest

    That is saying, I want to buy a car..... we do not know if you are looking
    for a volkswagon bug or a ferrari. Ferraris are expensive and high
    maintenance, volkswagon bugs, you can figure out how to tune up the motor
    If you speak of C++, then you are confined to looking at only ferraris.
    If you can work with C, then you can also work with mid-size cars.
    If you understand assembler, then you can work on ferraris, mid-sized and
    volkswagon bugs (as a comparison).
    Go to www.microchip.com and get the data sheets for the pic16c54.
    If you think you understand that, and think you could write something in
    assembler, then you would be able to work on the volkswagons ;-)
    If that looks confusing.... then unfortunately, you have much to learn and
    are unfortunately confined to the more expensive embedded stuff.
    Read up a few ANxxx examples to compare/learn.
    People will rightly so, point out the 16c54 is very very basic and replaced
    by other processors, yes, that is true.... I just wanted to point out the
    most basic chip.
    The cheapest I've ever built was a serial cable to program a 68hc11...
    however, as you are learning, I would recommend something like
    www.parallax.com (I don't remember if it is 1 or 2 l's).
    This would be a serious flaw if you are seriously thinking of embedded
    stuff, because if you cannot build it cheaply, simple enough, then you are
    going to have to rely on ready-made solutions, which means more expensive,
    which means more difficult for you to compete against someone who knows
    electronics and can build something cheaper because they don't have to rely
    on ready-made parts from another company.
    Amused, Dec 29, 2003
  7. E.Da Ros

    Mike Harding Guest

    I have been writing embedded assembler code for about 20?
    years and _I_ find the 16C54 a pig to work with and very hard
    to programme. I would not recommend it to my worse enemy.

    I haven't used the Atmel series but people speak well of them,
    you could also look at devices like the 8051 or Z80 or 68HC11
    families, IMO all are much easier to work with than that bloody
    16C54. Other PICs are a bit better if you want to use one try the
    16F877 or similar series.

    Mike Harding
    Mike Harding, Dec 29, 2003
  8. E.Da Ros

    Chris Hills Guest

    Everyone will now start pushing their favourite parts:)

    The most common MCU on the planet is the 8051. Lots of stuff for that in
    C and Assembler. From free to VERY expensive pro stuff for safety
    critical. Lots of cheap HW for this. Even as far as second hand ICE on

    PIC. An oddball system that is quite popular. Assembler and free tools
    but it has odd word sizes.

    68HC** is popular but long in the tooth. You should find support for

    Z80 is very old and whilst "we all did Z80" at one time that time was a
    a long while ago.

    AVR is popular and has some cheap dev kit. runs with C.

    For C++ you will been more powerful 16/32 bit systems that cost a LOT
    more. You could start with an old 286 or 8086 PC and a free DOS you can
    take apart. Use the Borland compilers.

    \/\/\/\/\ Chris Hills Staffs England /\/\/\/\/\
    /\/\/ www.phaedsys.org \/\/
    Chris Hills, Dec 29, 2003
  9. E.Da Ros

    Alex Gibson Guest

    For 32 bit with c or c++ a board with one of philips new arm chips would be
    the cheapest.

    Leon's is the cheapest I've seen

    Unless you can get your hands on some of the arm boards
    comming out of China which are similar(very) to some of the high end dev
    boards but 1/10th
    the price at reasonable quality.

    Trouble is need someone reliable to buy through.

    some cheap dev boards.
    They have them available for
    8051,pic , avr and 68hc (68hc11 and 68hc908) (all 8 bit )


    another cheap 8051 dev board for US$39


    or for something entirely different again
    (not the best to start with for embedded devices)

    dsp board programmable in c and c++
    Analog devices have a current promotion Blackfin EZ-KIT Lite for US$99.
    (until 31/01/2004)
    Blackfin chip running at 600MHz

    from webpage
    short version http://tinyurl.com/2mwau

    -ADSP-BF533 Blackfin® Processor
    -32 MB (16M x 16-bit) SDRAM
    -2 MB (512K x 16-bit x 2) FLASH memory
    -AD1836 96 kHz audio codec w/ 4 input and 6 output RCA jacks
    -ADV7183 video decoder w/ 3 input RCA jacks
    -ADV7171 video encoder w/ 3 output RCA jacks
    -ADM3202 RS-232 line driver/receiver
    -DB9 male connector
    -USB-based debugger interface
    -JTAG ICE 14-pin header
    -SPORT0 connector
    -Evaluation suite of VisualDSP++
    -10 LEDs: 1 power, 1 board reset, 1 USB reset, 1 USB monitor, 6 general
    -5 push buttons w/ debounce logic: 1 reset, 4 programmable flag
    -Three 90-pin connectors providing PPI, SPI, EBIU, Timers0-2, UART,
    Programmable Flags, SPORT0, and SPORT1 expansion interfaces for analyzing
    and interfacing

    Board acts as a usb dongle for the software.
    Compiler that comes with the board is executable size limited.
    Compiler ide is same as visual studio 6.

    main docs and app notes

    Alex Gibson
    Alex Gibson, Dec 29, 2003
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