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Everything Else » How can I learn more about microprocessors

December 03, 2013
by jmuthe
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A few months ago I read the data sheet for the ATMEGA 168 processor and I was a little frustrated because the manual was 376 pages and it was written with so much jargon that I understood only about 30% of what was written. The only reason that I understood what I did, is because the owners of Nerdkit showed a few projects with examples from the datasheet. However, if I ever want to use another microprocessor that is completely different from the ATMEGA, then I will not have any real examples to guide me.

The problem is that the person who writes these datasheets assumes that the reader is already familiar with some basic concepts of microprocessors. In fact all datasheets are like that for all components. For example, a datasheet written for a flip flop or AND gate will not tell you how these components work. The writer of the datasheet expects you to know these components and the datasheet merely explains the specifications of their chip. It is just like how when you buy a car and the dealer will gladly tell you how to adjust the seat or turn on the radio but he is not going to teach you how to drive because he expects that you already know that. I was wondering if anyone could recommend any reading material for me about microproccessors. I want this book to explain to me all the jargon terms so that when I read a datasheet for any microprocessor, I will be able to understand it.

December 04, 2013
by Ralphxyz
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Took me at least 3 -4 reads of the datasheet before I could find and almost understand "specific" sections relating to what I was working on.

I've gotten a bunch of books on microprogramming but none that I would ever recomend

They tend to be either to generalised or to specific for my general learning.

Let us know if you find any good references.

Ralph

December 04, 2013
by JKITSON
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I found the same on books. Bought several & most were generally how to solve a quadratic equation and nothing to do with reality. I found that completing the Nerdkits manual that came with the kit and the discussions on the forum helped the most...

Jim

December 04, 2013
by dgikuljot
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@Ralph

AVR C book

Have you tried out that book. I bought an older addition for like 30 bucks. The C tutorial in the first chapter is very good. And then it goes specific into AVR. I am thinking about writing a more detailed little ebook over winter break because understanding the bits and such was confusing and I finally understand all that. SO I feel like I could write a more detailed tutorial then the nerdkits. Do you guys think anyone would be willing to pay a few dollars for this.

December 04, 2013
by dgikuljot
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Or maybe we could just write a community open ebook. When I went through the nerdkits guide it was not enough for me to understand everything. Especially turning bits on/ off/ shifting etc. So I feel like we could create a short guide that really hammers this stuff out. Also talk about how to use the datasheet. For most people it is very overwhelming.

December 05, 2013
by BobaMosfet
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dgikuljot-

Please sign up on the contact form with me (see the 'Whats Goin on?!!!' thread under Customer Testimonials). I have a plan for this sort of thing, so that community involvement in this way is encouraged-- but those who do such contribution also get fairly compensated. I've reached out to other members (not all, just what I could get to at the moment), and have had positive responses.

I'm trying to make this a more self-sustaining community. My main contribution is framework, perks, parts, structure to the endeavor, and some over-riding direction to keep it from stagnating.

BM

December 05, 2013
by dgikuljot
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@BobaMosfet I would love to be part of that. Unfortunately on the whats Going on Thread I can not find your post mentioning the Contact US. Since the Customers Testimonials database is broken, the only thing I can access is the last thread posted on. Maybe you could give me an email where I can PM you and you can send me a link and also we can discuss further ideas. I am an electronics engineering student at California State University Sacramento, so once you get going I can try to promote the kits at my university.

My email is Kuljot123@att.net

December 13, 2013
by jmuthe
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Well dgikuljot, I don't know much about what you are writing but if you do write something that could help me understand these microprocessors a lot better than I would be willing to buy it.

December 13, 2013
by BobaMosfet
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jmuthe -

dgikuljot and I are discussing options on this. When the new store/forum/etc goes up, I think you'll be pleased ;P

BM

December 13, 2013
by Noter
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There is no easy answer to understanding data sheets. The greatest resource is the internet and your search engine. Search each jargon term that you don't understand and find out what it is then continue with the data sheet. Especially for specific peripheral devices, search for examples and articles, there's a lot out there and it's just a matter of persistence and time to find it.

Most important, write lots of test programs to demonstrate and test what you find and learn as you go through the data sheet. For example, if you want to understand a timer, read the spec and write a small test program for each feature (sometimes a paragraph at a time) and see that it works as described. Demonstrate all the pwm modes and all the interrupts and polling in various test programs. Stick with it until you figure it out and then go on to the next device. You will likely discover need for some extra equipment like an oscilloscope and a logic analyzer to verify some test results. Also keep in mind it's easier to get help from forums like AVR Freaks when you speak specifically about a single feature of a peripheral and show only a couple of lines of related code.

An alternative is to migrate to the arduino platform where you can get by without ever reading a data sheet, editing a make file, or in many cases writing more than a few lines of code to modify an example.

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