Poll
Question: What was your first Micro controller?  (Voting closed: February 16, 2012, 06:18:24 pm)
Arduino Uno - 6 (15.4%)
Arduino Duamilanove - 3 (7.7%)
Arduino Mega - 2 (5.1%)
Another model of Arduino board. - 0 (0%)
Another board made by another company - 12 (30.8%)
I'v been doing this since before you where born! (1998) - 16 (41%)
Total Voters: 39

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Author Topic: Where did you start with Micro controllers?  (Read 7421 times)
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My first start with electronics was with a 150-in-ONE project kit at aged 11.  I have vivid memories of wiring up a crystal radio and tuning into my first AM station (in Jakarta) which was playing the (then) newly released smash hit number one: Eye of the Tiger by Survivor...

As I grew up in Australia, I went through the entire catalog of Dick Smith Electronics (DSE) Funway into Electronics kits, building almost all of them that I could afford with my allowance and any money I earned delivering junk mail and working at a shoe shop on Saturday mornings.

In my mid teens I watched in awe as my best friend built a Z80 based Ferguson Big Board computer.  I, however, got hooked on the software side of things and spent my late teens writing serial (mostly FOSSIL based) communications utilities to interface bespoke POS systems to Gilbarco petrol pumps; linking NEC PBX systems to Qantel hotel billing systems for CDR processing.  I also wrote a tennis school database and a hotel functions event management database while studying at University and working as a night porter/auditor trainee in a hotel.  Fun times!

Between 18 and 20 as I studied computer systems engineering, a wonderful course that covered everything from basic programming to operating systems to electronic peripheral design - in one class, I build a wire-wrap ISA bus AD/DA card for an 8086 based PC and wrote a DOS TSR sound driver in assembly language; and a Telix clone in Pascal - those were the days!  In my 20s I helped my wife with her CompSci studies, in particular with MicMac assignments.

I then spent 20 years working in the Internet and Telecommunications industry as an R&D engineer, designing and building networks and associated peripherals where I designed a system using Z80 based Rabbit (now owned by Digi) microcontrollers for out of band monitoring of remotely deployed microwave systems.  I am now a consulting engineer specialising in next gen IP telephony living and working in Europe.

My most recent return to micro controllers has been with an Arduino Uno and Arduino Fio which I am using to build my vision impaired nephew a talking temperature guage with scrolling LED text display.  The experience has been fantastic!  Mixing the best parts of writing code, soldering small circuits and wiring up different gadgets to talk to each other - heaven!

Cheers

Leigh
« Last Edit: December 27, 2012, 08:47:04 pm by hart » Logged

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I remember those Big Boards, what monsters.

I just found the eZ80 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EZ80), what a great-looking chip. I'm reading the data sheet now wondering what I could use one for.

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I grew up in Australia
And now you're in the UK, one can only imagine the terrible circumstances that brought that about smiley

______
Rob
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G'day Rob,

I remember those Big Boards, what monsters.

Indeed - I don't ever recall my mate ever doing much with it other than zap a few eeproms with the on board programmer (for what, I have no idea!) :-)

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I just found the eZ80 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EZ80), what a great-looking chip. I'm reading the data sheet now wondering what I could use one for.

I remember enjoying the Z80 - Zilog need to find a way to get them out to the mass market / enthusiasts like they did through education in the 70s and 80s if they hope to stand a chance against the current generation of AVRs.

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I grew up in Australia
And now you're in the UK, one can only imagine the terrible circumstances that brought that about smiley

It's a long story mate :-)  Belfast is an interesting spot, too right.

Cheers

Leigh
« Last Edit: December 28, 2012, 04:05:33 am by hart » Logged

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I remember enjoying the Z80
Some of the Renesas processors are very z80-like.  Or perhaps 8080-like.
This includes the RL78/G13 that was recently the target of a contest with free dev boards available.
Actually, it was a bit depressing to discover; I sort of expect most chips available today to have either reached a certain degree of HLL-compatible elegance (like the AVR or MSP430 or ARM), or to have remained stubbornly "quirky" (like the 8-bit PICs.)  I wasn't expecting an architecture to look mostly ... old.
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Yeah it's nice to reminisce and that eZ80 does look good at a glance, but I don't think there's much point going back to an old-style architecture when you can buy an ARM for $1.50.

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Rob
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Rob Gray aka the GRAYnomad www.robgray.com

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or to have remained stubbornly "quirky" (like the 8-bit PICs.)
I've taken to viewing programming PIC 16-series devices (particularly in assembler) as a form of masochism or aversion therapy.
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to have remained stubbornly "quirky" (like the 8-bit PICs.)

If you code in a high level language like C, the core itself is mostly transparent.
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1979 ......SYM-1 with 2k ram (and you think 32K is'nt enough ? You have'nt lived in the fast lane mate)
Sadly, 2k was'nt enough either, 4k was pushing the proverbial uphill, just. So I frankensteined an S-100 16k memory board to the SYM memory interface.
All this with my parents bugging me on why I was wasting my lowly wages on rubbish !
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SYM1...lol

Maybe was 1982, maybe a bit earlier, but was the same beast, I had access to one when I babysat for a programmer.. And then again in 1983 at a weeklong technology camp at the university of Wisconsin... where we also had access to the university Xerox Sigma Six.

Machine language baby!  (lord it was so awful doing just about anything.. I remember a dice rolling program that took me weeks of poring the SYM manuals.. do I get points for the fact that I succeeded, self taught, a year before my first computer class?)
« Last Edit: January 26, 2013, 11:47:44 am by focalist » Logged

When the testing is complete there will be... cake.

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Hey, I still got the boards.
I also bought a second SYM-1 some years later to try out sbc to sbc comms. You're right about learning programming before taking traditional classes. I aced my digital electronics labs at the Airforce training college some years later, and that was on a MicroProfessor.
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