View Full Version : Help needed on getting started...

ProServ Engineering
01-26-2006, 09:43 AM
Hello everybody, I'm just a beginner in this topic of microcontrollers. I am a mechanical engineer and want to have more knowledge in the field of electronics, microcontrollers, mechatronics, etc. I have experience with PLC's (Allen Bradley, GE-Fanuc, Direct Logic). To get started I have just finished reading the book Microcontroller Project Book For PICBasic and PICBasic Pro. It is base on the Microchip 16F84A MCU. I·want to learn also about MCU from Parallax because I don't want to be confined to one sole brand, after I am more prepared about them I can choose·if I want to stay with only one of them or work with both. I have bought from Parallax the following ;

Parallax BASIC Stamp 2sx Starter Kit w/BOE,

Parallax Boe-Bot Robot Kit Serial and,

Parallax BASIC Stamp WAM Kit.

I haven't recieve them yet and don't know nothing about.

I like to know from you·what's the best·route to take to learn Parallax MCU's, and recommend a book about it.·Also let me know what do you think of the items I have bought.

Lastly, is there any other brand you suggest besides Microchip and Parallax that you think is worth the time to learn also.

Thanks for you help in advance.·

Kevin Wood
01-26-2006, 10:45 AM
There are literally hundreds, if not thousands, of microcontrollers on the market. As a beginner it is probably best to focus more on the general concepts vs. in-depth architecture of any particular model. Generally speaking, you will want to look at learning Basic, Assembly, and C. These three languages will probably cover 99+% of what you will work with. Which one you learn/use will depend on the platform.

As far as choosing a brand microcontroller to stick with, again, this will largely depend on your purpose for learning microcontrollers. If you are doing it for your employer, you will basically learn what they use. If for your own hobby use, you can choose whichever is best suited to your purposes.

For book suggestions, you might want to take a look at "Practical Electronics for Inventors" for a good overview of electronics. The second edition is due out in a month or two, but the first should still be in stores. Also check out Jan Axelson's "Serial Port Complete," which is highly recommended here. As for BS2 books, you should find info about them on Parallax's website. There are also a ton of downloads on Parallax's website. Since you are purchasing a Boe-Bot, you might want to take a look at the "Applied Robotics with the SumoBot," which can be downloaded. It goes into advanced concepts beyond the Boe-Bot text, which you might find interesting.

There are a couple of PowerPoint presentations available on the educational downloads page that are very well done. One is a version of the WAM text, the other is similar, but different in content, and is called BS2 Tutorial. If you don't have PowerPoint, and want to view them, a free reader is available from Microsoft.

Since you mentioned interest in mechatronics, you might also want to take a look at a product called Ch, which is a C/C++ interpreter. It is very good for learning ANSI C, which you will probably want to look at eventually. Here is the url:

www.softintegration.com (http://www.softintegration.com)

Chris Savage
01-26-2006, 01:03 PM
Since you bought the WAM kit, you should definately start with that.· The "What's A Microcontroller?" text is the easiest way to get learning about the BASIC Stamp programming and interfacing.· Once you've completed that the Robotics and a few other texts can give you some real-world examples and experience.

Chris Savage
Parallax Tech Support
csavage@parallax.com (mailto:csavage@parallax.com)

ProServ Engineering
01-29-2006, 08:08 AM
Thanks to you both. Your help is very much appreciated.