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Everything Else » Question on other controllers

January 15, 2011
by Jalex
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I just love my Nerdkit and have learned lots of valuable info with it. In fact I am going to get the ATmega328P for it too. I want to try an RF link so I will want one at both ends sending and receiving data anyway. I have some PIC16C711's that could do simple things but every time I research programming them I find I need a $250 programmer. What I need to know is there a simple way to program them or should I just throw them away. Or can I build something simple that will work?

January 15, 2011
by Hexorg
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Jalex, punching "PIC programmer" into google had this for $50. Not too bad, also try ebay. They had AVR's programmers for $10!

January 17, 2011
by Jalex
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Hi There is something I don't yet understand. Why are other controllers so hard to program and all need a special programmer when the ATmega168 is so easy? Is it because of the EEprom instead of the flash mem or is it something else?

January 17, 2011
by bretm
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The chip that comes with the Nerdkit is programmed with a bootloader that understands the AVR109 protocol used by the avrdude program to upload the hex file to the chip. This bootloader isn't unique to the Atmega168--it can be installed and used on other chips. But you'd need one of those hardware programmers to do it. If the Nerdkit chip didn't have the bootloader (e.g. you bought another Atmega168 from Digikey or Ebay or something) then programming it through the serial port likely would not work.

January 17, 2011
by Jalex
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Thanks bretm That's good to know. I guess I have much to learn about all this. So if I get an ATmega328P I better buy it from nerdkits as well, Right? Jim

January 17, 2011
by Ralphxyz
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Hi Jim, if you purchase a ATmega328p form the Nerdkit guys it will come with the bootloader installed.

If you purchase a blank mcu from Mouser, DigiKey or the like you will need to load the bootloader onto it, that will cost you from $25.00 - $50.00 or even $150.00 - $200.00 for a programmer. You can also get a 328p with the Arduino bootloader installed which is a whole different but similar environment so watch what you purchase.

It definitely is good to support the Nerdkit guys for their wonderful support but once you have a programmer you can save a couple of bucks. With a programmer you can erase the mcu and start from scratch without any bootloader but you can still flash programs onto the mcu so you have more RAM to work with (+2k).

Ralph

January 18, 2011
by Jalex
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Thanks Ralph This is cool. I am really glad I decided to go with nerdkits. I got some real cheap Pic16Cxxx chips and couldn't do anything with them so I needed to learn the whole process from scratch. I do want to learn how to install bootloaders but I am definatly not ready for that yet. This was a perfect way to learn them. It has opened up a whole new world for me. I am now having a lot of trouble converting my programming experience from computers to Micro's but I am learning thanks to nerdkits.

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