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When to go for an evaluation board and when not to...

Discussion in 'Embedded' started by Seemanta Dutta, Jun 1, 2006.

  1. Hi,

    I have a question about two options between which I am having a dilemma.

    I have to start of with 8051 development and basically my need to create
    small hobby projects.

    So now, I am the crossroads where I have to choose between two options:

    1. Purchase a development board.

    2. Use the philips/atmel variant with in built boot loader and start off
    development with a home made kit.

    Now my question is, which way should I go for?

    Option 1 will cost me about 5200 INR which is roughly about 120 USD.
    (These boards don't come cheap in India!!)

    But I am not sure about the relative cost of option 2.
    That is where I am relying on this community.

    In the long run however, is it better to invest in option 1?
    What are the merits and demerits of each of these options?

    Also please mention the relative costs of very basic development boards
    in the countries where you people are from. I need to know how much can
    be the price difference.
    Would be grateful, if there is some other option that I am missing here.

    Thanks in advance again!

    Seemanta Dutta, Jun 1, 2006
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  2. Seemanta Dutta

    Fidolinux.dk Guest

    If you want to start very cheap and have the possebility to make your own
    pcb, here is one:
    Fidolinux.dk, Jun 1, 2006
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  3. Seemanta Dutta

    afredman Guest

    Not knowing your financial constraints, I would always attempt to go
    with option 1, the premade development board.

    1. You will get a solid board that has been prototyped and had most of
    the kinks worked out.

    2. There is quite a bit more community support and debugging help out
    there for an existing popular dev board that will shorten the amount of
    time you spend beating your head against the wall trying to figure out
    what's wrong with your code (when really it's a hardware problem)!

    afredman, Jun 1, 2006
  4. Seemanta Dutta

    Eric Guest

    What are the hardware features you need?

    If a commercial development kit has all the hardware peripherals you
    need. Buying the dev. kit is probably more economical.
    This is because:
    1) Proto PCB's are fairly expensive $50 for 5 piece min plus $18
    shipping = $68 from www.pcbex.com (2 layer board)... You could make
    your own from a kit, but this depends on how complex a board you need.
    2) Parts in single piece qty's are much more expensive. So companies
    that make many dev. kits get a cost savings, and most of the time they
    pass that savings on to you.

    But if you make your own dev kit you learn a lot more than just
    programming. I'm not sure what your goals are.

    Eric, Jun 1, 2006
  5. Hi,

    My main concern is that I am willing to spend upto say 120 USD, but then
    if the *same* stuff is available for almost half the price outside
    india, then probably even after shipping it will be better to take the
    imported board.

    Can you please let me have an idea as to how much usually an 'average'
    development board costs?

    The other thing is peripherals. I definitely need the peripherals to
    interface with the things I am planning to build.

    Given the situation, I am more or less tilted towards buying the
    development board. Of course, making my own board will be a tremendous
    learning experience but i shall graduate to making my own after I have
    had some hands on experience.

    Now I have the following options among development boards,:

    1. Keil MCB900: It is being sold for approx. 150 USD
    Is it worth that much? Does it have all the basic peripherals I need?
    Is it worth if I also get the well known keil software with it? I
    mean the full version uvision IDE and all that?

    2. ESA51 board: This coming to much more than as the Keil board(above
    200 USD!!). I would rather go for the keil one rather than this
    overpriced board.

    3. ESA51e board: It is coming for 120 USD approx. It has some
    peripherals but being cheaper I am favored towards it.

    More importantly, The ESA guys (http://esaindia.com/) have invited
    me for a demo in a few days.

    Since this is first time I am buying a development board, I would like
    to know what are things I must look for in a board. Is there something
    which is a must have? Or somethings which can be left out? Please advise.

    Oh, my requirements are like this:
    a basic system to do my own projects,
    not very high level stuff, think of projects which will be
    done by a beginner. But later on, I should be still be use the board
    for medium level stuff.

    And my budget is approx 120 USD at the maximum.

    Hoping to hear from you soon.

    Seemanta Dutta, Jun 2, 2006
  6. Seemanta Dutta

    Alex Gibson Guest

    What about boards like those from www.futurlec.com ?
    US$22 - 79 for board with 8051 , pic , avr etc

    All their boards are pre-assembled
    (head office in Australia ? , warehouse in Thailand)



    They get their boards from other companies in Thailand.

    I've used their pic and avr boards mostly.
    Great for one offs and in some cases cheaper than you can
    buy the compoenents for in small quantities.

    I'd do 1 and part of 2.

    Purchase a "cheap" development board and try to get one that uses
    a bootloader rather than other software.

    Alex Gibson, Jun 3, 2006
  7. Seemanta Dutta

    dfeustel Guest

    Several years ago I tried out a Cygnal 8051 development board
    and found it to be extremely well engineered. Cygnal dev boards
    use a hardware debugging link for downloading. Very Slick.
    The compiler ide runs on windows. I recommend the product.
    dfeustel, Jun 5, 2006
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