Linked by Thom Holwerda on Mon 6th Nov 2017 10:23 UTC
Hardware, Embedded Systems

As an embedded design consultant, the diverse collection of projects on my desk need an equally-diverse collection of microcontroller architectures that have the performance, peripheral selection, and power numbers to be the backbone of successful projects. At the same time, we all have our go-to chips - those parts that linger in our toolkit after being picked up in school, through forum posts, or from previous projects.

In 2017, we saw several new MCUs hit the market, as well as general trends continuing in the industry: the migration to open-source, cross-platform development environments and toolchains; new code-generator tools that integrate seamlessly (or not so seamlessly...) into IDEs; and, most notably, the continued invasion of ARM Cortex-M0+ parts into the 8-bit space.

I wanted to take a quick pulse of the industry to see where everything is - and what I've been missing while backed into my corner of DigiKey’s web site.

It's time for a good ol' microcontroller shoot-out.

An amazingly detailed and well-organised resource.

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As an old bastard that comes from a non-techinal background, I decided to buy a Arduino nano clone (I think it was a buck on AliExpress) and see what I could do.

Having not wired up electronics since being a kid (i.e. a couple of LEDs and a battery) nor programed C code, it seemed daunting at first... But I can't describe how such a small little controller managed to turn me into the equivalent of a super excited 5 year old.

Sure these chips may have been around for years, but the toolkits available and myriad of cheap sensors you can plug into the things to make whatever XYZ activated idea-of-the-day in record time, is incredible.

Since then I've gone 'big' and bought a couple of ESP8266's which at two bucks are even more incredible (wifi etc.), and also a Orange PI (which is a full computer really), to receive data from the cheap microcontrollers.

This all coming from a bloke that didn't know diddly squat about C or microcontrollers a few months ago.

So much fun!

Reply Score: 7

ThomasFuhringer Member since:

Tinkering with these simplified systems reawakens nostalgia in those of us who used to hack on their Commodore 64, juggling individual bytes in assembler because that was the only way to get it to do something useful at a reasonable performance. The intriguing effect was that in those days you could still understand your entire computer while todays systems are so complex that individual components alone such as e.g. the USB port would take an absurd amount of time to get intimately familiar with.

Reply Parent Score: 3