need advice: what is a good Arduino for me to start

I use PICs for a number of years, recently changed to Hitech C, trying to avoid assembly when possible.

However, I am also working at single board computer designs based on CPUs.
I am considering Motorola (Freescale) MCUs as well.

Recently I started a PIC project, a small binary matrix clock, also having a small LCD,
I2c RTC, and 1.2 volts supply. I finished it relatively quickly, even if it was the first time using Hitech C.

So I am not a total beginner looking for supporting onboard voltage regulators (I’d buld them myself).

Do you have any concrete product suggestion, what would be the right Arduino model for me, to do something cool and interesting, that I could also do using some PIC, but using Atmel chip, it would be more comfortably , easier, etc.??

I know these Atmel chips have larger program memories, where small PICs usually have 2K or 4K (tends to become used up rather quick, multiply by 10 is luxury already :slight_smile: (so I’d use BCD, takes more variables space, but saves me from lengthy codes to do multiplication).

Can you link to everything I need to get started? Not neccessarily a ready made PCB but I am not too sure atm.

I do not consider to abandon PICs I am just interested to become more flexible using available chips.

Recently I have downloaded some software from Altera, having around a small CPLD board, not quite sure what to do with it, eventually I want to use it for some sort of address decoding for a single board computer.

On the uno (328P) you have i2c to connect a rtc and lcd (the lcd can be connected directly but i prefer i2c because of the output limitations) also a lot of libs to connect everything.
The voltage will have to be 3,3 or 5v.
Does this answer your question?

Not really. I have PICs also including hardware serial port available, some 18F with USB, some PIC32.

There is a source code for i2c also included in Hitech C.

I am looking for some MCU that can do different things or can do things better than a PIC.

Examining this forum myself, eventually a so-called NETDUINO would be interesting for me, and it does not seem to be too expensive.

Many of the 18F PICs and the PIC32 are rather big ICs, SMD only, 3.3v only, but also more complex to set up a PCB/prototype, and to configure them just to start up.

Even smaller 18F have 6 rows of configuration fuses.

There is not a need to rush things the next thing is I want to download the IDE, and figure out what flash writer (programmer module) is appreciate for me, and to think about NETDUINO.

I bought small 1.8" color TFT recently, but I want to use it with the 18f24j10, an 28pin chip I have around (a few of them) for some years, never made it into a project.

The ATMEGA also looks interesting, has large memory 128K, but I do not really have a clue of Arduino, if they are all based on one particular chip (they aren’t, guess), or if it also would make sense to use these Atmel chips on their own.

What do you think should I buy a NETDUINO?

The Netduino is not an Arduino product. The only similarity between the Netduino and an Arduino UNO is the form factor and the ability to use Arduino compatible shields.

Here are some links to articles that talk about the difference between Netduino and Arduino:

I can't help you with the Netduino (don't use them) i think that the good thing about arduino is the
massive community and the prototyping can be relatively fast, the limitation is that your limited to
a few atmel chips.

If you wan't to use more atmel chips you can just use winavr with programmers notepad, but it will
take some more effort with the makefiles and such.

I use the arduino UNO and now just a breadboard version with and without the bootloader with the avrtinyisp directly from visual studio 2010 with visual micro!

I think the UNO still is a great value for money and worth to try squeezing your program in.
I bought the Inventors kit once to get started and it helped a lot!

You really have to know what you want to build exactly to select your hardware.

@Kenny, I saw your reply as well, while I wrote, thanks.
I don’t have any Atmel chips currently. And yes this is one reason why I am interested for them, because a large online community exists, and it is less likely you are ejected from the forum on behalf of some foreign car maker who becomes paranoid quickly his customer would disappear because your comments lack any professionalism. The Motorola/Freescale people are rather like they’d friendly point out what you are doing wrong, and they’d know how to tax their own mileage more instantly. I’d say so. The only thing is I think his car customers don’t even know there are some small PICs inside them :slight_smile: I just hope it was not Honda, they recently lost 2 billions worth of sheet metal shells due to floodings.


Well…I noticed there are many support parts now available for Arduino, including some small TFT displays for good prices.

I’d rather take a MCU chip, and build a circuit, not so much depending on USB for fancy purposes, or linear regulators. So if I buy Arduino PCB I’d remove these regulators/capacitors.

But it’s the Atmel chips platform that could be interesting for some tasks, and the codebase.

I am sometimes slow at getting together all the components, having wireless modem, I have to consider when to download a 2 or 3 Gbytes installer. Having some larger PICs around for 2 years or so, never built circuits, until recently. I am just starting trying to increase professionalism while using the midrange 16Fs.

So I really need some guidance for the Atmel stuff, true I do search the net, but for instance the above links have been helpful for me, this is the kind of information I am looking for.

There might be the case where really Atmel chip is better for some purpose, for instance the PIC C compiler is not really useful for the small baseline chips, maybe the Atmel IDE can produce better code.

Altogether I think maybe 20% of circuits I build eventually are interesting to consider Atmel.

I am not really looking to get wall adapters having these power jacks, I had repeated cases where they destroyed gadgets due to wrong voltage/wrong polarity. At best I’d replace the power jack with screw terminals. Most of the time I use batteries, and MC dc/dc converters. Or also electronic transformers giving off 5 volts directly.

The descision if to buy a ready-made Arduino, or getting some Atmel chips and try to start bulding circuits from scratch, has not yet been made, I am considering your opinion on this.

You see on the photos, I took off the GLCD from the carrier PCB, because the 18f24j10 is 3.3 volts technology, while the Arduino PCB is carrying 5v level shifter. Well…I ordered blank GLCD only the seller generously shipped the version having carrier PCB.

Another case is where I bought a radiation counter PCB (blank) designed for Arduino, and modding it to be used carrying a PIC microcontroller. I don’t mind to use Arduino PCBs or hardware add on’s, and to modify them for PIC. I think it makes sense to take advantage of the work that was already done, instead of completely designing it myself.

It is true older PICs are not so powerful, there are many hobby level circuits around for instance based on 16f84 but this is misleading, more modern PICs for instance enhanced midrange (16f1503,1824, etc.) have long surpassed the level of these 1K/few pheripherals/weird banking PICs.

I really wonder about people implementing a text message scroller on these older PICs, I found it still very difficult having two pointer registers+linear address space+larger RAM+4x the Flash memory space. Maybe to some degree, due to assembly language, which I prefered to use until recently.

I saw this (non standard) Arduino:

Eventually I will buy it, since I want to try using my serial 7seg Display modules with Arduino.
The PCB has a prototype area that looks like made for such a purpose.

Otherwise also ATMega is interesting, I can use TFQP ICs, and they have large Flash memories.

One question that I have is that when I use Arduino PCB which has bootloader, it is possible to program other Atmel chips via this interface, or do I need an extra programmer module (I guess so)?

I don't know if you need the whole board (with the buzzer and the other stuff) because you have experience with pcb's
If you decided that you don't want an UNO or whatever then just buy yourself

-16MHz oscillator
-2x 22pf capacitor
-5V power supply

and then let the fun begin!

I think buying something like that from ebay is a waste
my other consideration for buying the inventors kit is not just all the goodies, but also my support for the community
Now i just use breadboards and solder to protoboards and eventually to pcb's

Another atmega from ebay is about 4 to 6 dollars so it's always painless to replace

Well that's my opinion.

hmm I contacted the seller and received good communications.

I like this board because it has a small proto area where I could mount my LED display.

If I want to save costs I use a small 14pin PIC, less than a dollar.

by the way is it true standard Atmel controller need full 5 volts,
not like PICs which can work from 2.0 to 5 volts?

I don't know if you need the whole board (with the buzzer and the other stuff) because you have experience with pcb's
If you decided that you don't want an UNO or whatever then just buy yourself

-16kHz oscillator
-2x 22pf capacitor
-5V power supply

I have one 19 Khz crystal indeed, found it inside a VCR.
Most of the crystals I have are 8 Mhz or 12.28 MHz, also some 18 MHz oscillator modules, plus many different types of resonators. Some newer PICs don't need crystal anymore. I also have a big bag 27 pF capacitors, must be old, since they are wax impregnated, I think ceramic capacitors don't age much.

There are breadboards around even some bigger one's- I almost never used them, too much effort, the PICs are so cheap it does not matter to abandon a circuit which does not work right.

5v power supply- could be a problem, most of the time, I use one 1.2v batteries, or 2x 1.2v directly. Also if really need be I tap my PC PSU, have one older ATX supply around + some 5v wall adapters. Ordered some small 12v electronic transformers recently.

No, I really think, unless you give explanation for another product, I will buy this no-standard "Arduino" from eBay that I linked, there is a photodiode for instance, I don't see a power jack or big capacitors.

I don't neccesarily have to save cost, or to have use of all sort of shields, or to use a specific Atmel MCU. I want to buy one board to get some real experience with the programming IDE, and to understand the Arduino Basics.