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Microcontroller Kits RRS feed

  • Question

  • Hello, I couldn't find a forum for this question, so I hope this will be the most appropriate one.
    I'm trying to find a microcontroller kit that teaches you by using some sort of breadboard, and lets you connect everything up.
    Most kits that I've seen already come complete and you just learn by programming it. What I want is something where you can plug the microcontroller, ram/rom, a resistor here, a capacitor there, and it tells you why. A tutorial I guess. I just want to get my feet wet, so I can decide if I want to invest my time in learning the theory behind all this.
    Here is a kit that I've found that is somewhat like what I want, but I want a kit to be more abstract.

    Thanks.
    Saturday, April 12, 2008 1:53 PM

Answers

  • Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio works at a different "level" from what you are looking for, so that's why you won't find a more appropriate forum here.

    That having been said, have you looked at what Parallax have to offer? They have a large range, some of which sounds like what you are asking for. http://parallax.com/

    I'm a little unclear on what you mean that the Thames & Kosmos kit you mentioned is not "abstract" enough.

    Stewart.


    Saturday, April 12, 2008 9:24 PM

All replies

  • Microsoft Robotics Developer Studio works at a different "level" from what you are looking for, so that's why you won't find a more appropriate forum here.

    That having been said, have you looked at what Parallax have to offer? They have a large range, some of which sounds like what you are asking for. http://parallax.com/

    I'm a little unclear on what you mean that the Thames & Kosmos kit you mentioned is not "abstract" enough.

    Stewart.


    Saturday, April 12, 2008 9:24 PM
  • When I said abstract I meant that it uses something like a breadboard/parts that you can get from most electronics store, nothing proprietary. The Thames & Kosmos kit is something like I want, but it uses a custom board and shell. So if I wanted  a replacement I'd have to order directly from them.
    Yeah, I've checked out Parallax's site and the Propeller Chip seems awesome, but then again, the kits come somewhat assembled already.
    I have a Lego Mindstorm RCX 2.0 kit, but now I want to know how everything is assembled together.
    Thanks.

    Sunday, April 13, 2008 12:32 AM
  • You mentioned Parallax, but have you looked closely at the Boe-Bot? It is supported in MRDS 1.5, but has been dropped from 2.0 because Parallax is supposed to support it.

     

    The Boe-Bot comes with a very well written manual and there is a small bread-board on the robot. The manual steps you through building circuits on the bread-board and explains how they work.

     

    As for the Propellor chip, you can take out the BASIC Stamp 2 that comes with the Boe-Bot and drop in a Spin Stamp (which has a Propellor) and it just works (once you download the appropriate firmware) with MRDS 1.5.

     

    I know you are looking for a "hardware" solution, but I think that the Propellor chip might be the wave of the future for robotics. Mutliple processors allow you to do real multi-tasking. So the software side presents some interesting opportunities.

     

    Trevor

     

    P.S. I do NOT work for Parallax, and I don't get any commission :-(

     

     

    Sunday, April 13, 2008 1:38 AM
  • Have you looked at this?
    http://parallax.com/Store/Microcontrollers/PropellerProgrammingKits/tabid/144/CategoryID/20/List/0/SortField/0/Level/a/ProductID/415/Default.aspx

    But in general, the reason you will find that most microcontroller education/development kits come on some sort of basic carrier board is that the other components on there, if any, are directly used to support the microcontroller itself, such as power supply and clock. But these are not what's interesting about microcontrollers.

    Programming is the microcontroller is what's interesting to most people, plus connecting peripheral sensors and actuators -- which on such kits is commonly done through a breadboard, often on board the kit. Parallax have a bunch of these (their Stampworks kit is a complete training class for example), as do many other manufacturers such as Futurlec (http://www.futurlec.com/) and Rabbit (http://www.rabbit.com/).

    If the support circuits on microcontrollers is what interests you, you generally won't find that microcontroller kits are the way to learn those -- instead, you should probably take a look at basic electronics kits where these circuits are covered.

    In parallel, if you want to cautiously explore what microcontrollers are all about and ignore the support hardware for a bit, a really inexpensive way to go is the $20 AVR Butterfly:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AVR_Butterfly

    BTW, this could be what you are looking for, but I've no experience with it:
    http://www.nerdkits.com/

    Stewart.
    Sunday, April 13, 2008 8:23 PM
  • Oh thanks. I don't know how I missed that Propeller Education Kit on the Parallax site. That's exactly what I want.
    Yeah, I was hoping someone would make a microcontroller kit that also acts as a tutorial on electronics also. But I guess I'll have to buy them separately.
    Thanks.
    Monday, April 14, 2008 3:48 PM
  • You could also check out Arduino or Freeduino kits at http://www.nkcelectronics.com/freeduino-arduino-diecimila-compatible-board-complete-kit.html or check out http://www.arduino.cc lots of interesting stuff and its all open source.

    Dylan
    Monday, April 28, 2008 4:51 PM