Wednesday, April 20, 2011

First post

Hi, I am a professional programmer who recently became fascinated with electronics, especially micro-controllers. That's why the blog's name - I do not have favorite, I try any chip I can get for a reasonable price.

So far I tried:

  1. TI MSP430 - Launchpad, moved to breadboard, moved to soldered breadboard. Controls a LED chain, emulates Apple LED breathing effect. Done without tables, by calculating exponents without multiplication and division. I have soldered myself a GoodFET.
  2. Chipcon - so far not that successful attempt to make a radio USB dongle (not unlike IM-ME, but using single chip - cc1111 instead of unhealthy mix of Cypress USB and cc1110). Radio without network analyzer is a hard problem. 
  3. Atmel AVR - I have made many boards, from Teensy 1.0 semi-clone, vusbpico - miniature clone of USBTinyISP, SMT version of Lady Ada's (Conway's) Life, attenuation controller for pre-amp (inspired by etc. I do have Arduino clone, that is how I bootstrapped the process. In the beginning you need pre-programmed programmer to program your own programmer (vusbpico ;-). I bought Anarduino and mainly use it as a programmer for other Atmels.
  4. ST32 - I have Discovery board - it works, but I did not try to program it.
  5. UBW32 - PIC32, nee MIPS-based board - same thing.
  6. SMT clone of Altera CPLD board - Kemani from G. Eric Rogers (see Amani64 site).
  7. Parallax Propeller - breadboarded a simple blinking LEDs, was amazed by easiness and clarity of multicore code. Apparently, I still did not face my first race condition :-)
I use excellent Laen's PCB group order service - couldn't recommend it more. I encourage you to try it instead of making PCB at home (unless you love it, definitely). I couldn't imagine myself making all this stuff without this service. The turnaround time - 2 weeks in average, starting closest Monday - partially explains this multitude of semi-finished boards. I am trying to pipeline the process - while one board is coming, I program another and develop the third.

Given this affordable service, I prefer to design boards myself, rather than order ready made breakouts or soldered boards. Even if you modified slightly someone else's design, you learned something new.

I plan to publish all my projects in different stages of completion here, and will be glad if you find it useful or entertaining.

I also want to share my experience of a (almost) total novice in this foreign and wonderful world. I still remember how obvious things (what 0603 means - is it imperial or metric?) can be puzzling and frustrating.

So, wish me good luck!

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