Let's Make Robots!

Which microcontroller?

Let me start out with saying that I bought a Picaxe about a year back and had absolute horror getting it to work with my PC. Nothing I did would work. I've been traveling for a long while now and am finally settling back down a bit, so I'm wanting to get started back in robotics.

I haven't built my first bot yet, but will be buying supplies soon. Can anyone recommend another MC instead of the Picaxe? Maybe the Arduino? Preferably something that has a good support group I can go to if I get stuck... which is more than likely.


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

It's really hit or miss with micros as there are a lot of factors that are involved that can cause various headaches. For example, I can use the picaxe on my laptop and desktop without a prob. Arduino on the other hand works on the desktop but uploading a sketch from my laptop 9 -10 it will fail(though I have some tricks that reduce it). The other thing about the arduino is that I have two boards, one with a crystal and the other with a resonator..both have their unique timing even though they are using 16mhz components... Xmos, same thing, desktop it works, and laptop I don't see it at all. I tried several tools to figure it out, but in the end, it just didn't work. Avr, I can program it on the laptop with no probs...not sure about the desktop though. 

Since I do my dev on my laptop, the issues that I mention are a bit of a hastle....

I'm a complete newbie to all of it. I've done a few things with all the electronics I bought back then... but that was over a year ago, so I might as well start like new because most of that knowledge is all but gone.

I've got a couple books on robotics, but I've had a hard time wrapping my head around things and the "Start Here" robot instructions seem much clearer to me... plus I get to program, which I love to do. I'm a programmer by nature, just new to the C's and BASIC. Got a few languages that won't help me at all in this regard in my head though. 

For ease of use and rapid bot development you can't beat the Arduino platform, although the PICAXE is another good contender in this regard. You don't necessarily have to do the whole 'shield' thing (not to my personal taste), you can just buy the pre-loaded Arduino micros and put them onto a custom built PCB, and the same applies to PICAXE.

What is your level of electronics and/or programming experience? If you're still getting used to a lot of the major concepts in hobby robotics then you might find it's good to buy a complete Arduino/PICAXE board and start from there; you can build your way up to more complex custom solutions gradually.

Arduino has a good community. I too couldnt  use picaxe because of computer problems, but switched to arduino and everything has been fine since.

Wish I could use the Picaxe still. I ended up having to toss all of my robotics gear a while back, and shortly after that ended up doing some long term travel, so I'm starting from scratch.

Just for documentation though, it was getting the Picaxe to connect to the PC that was the problem. I didn't have any serial ports on my computer and tried to connect via USB, which never happened. Was always getting errors. 

Because of starting from scratch, I'm looking to find something that has a good amount of support. Right now I'm leaning towards Arduino, but it seems like you need to build/buy shields for many applications outside of general electronics. 

With the usb problem, what programmer or development board did you use? Did it have usb support or did you use one of those ftdi converters? I bought a converter for a basic stamp1 ages ago and never got that to run.

Looking at microzed http://www.microzed.com.au/28pin.htm they sell this AXE001X2U which has usb support. Anyway since you have disposed of the picaxe you are free to choose whichever platform you like now.

As far as popularity both picaxe and atmel systems seem to be most popular here. So it really comes down to one or the other doesn't it. Since you have studied the picaxe in the past it may be easier to restart with it again. Good luck whichever way you go.

Try again with the picaxe. switching to a different mcu won't solve anything.

There's plenty of support here and elsewhere on the net for picaxe so you should use the one you bought. Then you can spend the money on sensors and actuators instead of another mcu that you might struggle to learn to use.

That's just my opinion but I see it all the time and I'll admit I'm guilty of it myself. People throwing money at the hobby and thinking that the robot will just materialize out of that. Start with learning to blink an led with the picaxe and then go on from there. 

If you have problems with getting the answers you need then you need to learn the correct way of asking for help. Give enough relevant information to the difficulty present in a way that is clear to anyone reading the problem. Pictures help but not essential.

 For instance explain why you found the picaxe difficult to work out. Was it a problem connecting it in circuit or with a programmer. Was it the programming software setup. The programming language syntax.  Start here and you will soon be on your way to where you want to go.