In your opinion, which is better, Atmel or Picaxe?
AVR is as hard (or as simple) as PIC.... not a much difference... here AVR is harder to find btw...
There are tons of programers which can be used and tons of Compilers....
As a start you can use the Code Vision AVR to generate the settings... and you can use than the AVR Studio to write the C code... than simply burn the chip with AVR dude... AVR dude is needed indeed to use the AVR Studio C compiler (avr-gcc).
programmers; Ladyada Tiny USB, AVR Dopper... just google and get the schematic....
I personally prefer Tiny USB, can be bought for 120 RON here but my friend made one for a cost of 20 RON (7$ aprox.)
Are there circuit diagrams anywhere that show how to connect programmers and other things to an AVR Microcontroller? I can't seem to find any.
There are tons of AVR programmers out there floating around the web.
As a start, decide if you want to program through your serial port, parallel port, or USB port. Once you have chosen your hardware interface type into google "(serial/parallel/usb) port avr programmer" which should return plenty of options for both buying or building.
Once you get a programmer, connect the programming pins MISO MOSI RESET SCK GND (and V+ optional) to the same labelled pins of the microcontroller.
Can someone please tell me where I can learn how to make a board for an Atmel Chip?
I highly recommend getting one of of the bare bones boards out there. they are simple and come with all components for a minimum setup. They are great for breadboarding a project and make life simple.
First, you need to learn electronics basics and CAD (Eagle, for example). Then pick up a microcontroller that will fit your application specifics. Study the data sheet for that micro. Decide what parts you will embed on your board and what connectors for external parts you will use. Make the schematic, then the PCB in Eagle (or any other CAD software), send it out to a fabhouse or etch it yourself. Done. I'll say it will take you about 3 months or less, depending on your capacity to understand electronics.
Oradea, Romania... working with AVRs... not hard to understand... making a development board will only eat memory... use simple AVR studio with macro's from TinHead and everything is cool ;)
What is an Arduino Bootloader?
Arduino is a bootloader, it makes it possible to program the atmega328, 168, or 8, without using a proper programmer, it's cheaper this way, and therefore more appealing for a starters pack thing.
Just like PICAXE is a bootloader but on a PIC chip by microchip, both of them make the chip slow, takes about 40 clock cycles to change a pin state using digitalWrite, if you want to make commercial grade products you will have to program one of these brands of chips in assembly, or C(C has a few different things depending on what you're programming, hi-tech C for PICs, AVR C for atmel's AVR line.. etc)
I plan on using Atmel for my second robot.