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September 05, 2010
by wbthompsonco
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I bought this kit because I wanted to be able to learn to program a microcontroller......any microcontroller. I wanted to learn what's happening inside...about registers, to program it in C, or in anything.....I've finished everything in the Guide, and still have the following questions: 1. What are all of the commands I can use with this microcontroller, and how do I use them? 2. How to I put together my own projects? 3. How do I interface with sensors, switches, etc.?

In short....the kit left me unfulfilled. How do I learn all of the above? Where do I look for more? Is there ANYONE out there that teaches all you could want to learn about any particular microcontroller? The last microcontroller class I had was in 1992. How do you go about learning new ones?

September 05, 2010
by Ralphxyz
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Hi wbthompsonco, welcome to the group.

I have been using the Nerdkit and occupying this forum for about 7 or 8 months.

So this reply is from someone who has never had a microcontroller class, my whole total "formal" education in computers was a Novel 4 administration course back when you were taking your class on microcontrollers, most everything else I know comes for these forums.

re: "1. What are all of the commands I can use with this microcontroller, and how do I use them?". Here is a link I googled for "C commands". How do you want to use them? What do you want to do? You are limited only by your imagination.

re:"2. How to I put together my own projects?" Short answer, just do it!! Start doing something and if you get stuck ask us here on the Nerdkit forum somebody will jump in and help you with your question or give you a outright answer. When I started here with my Nerdkit I scoffed at the attention that was payed to LEDs. I mean come on what is so hot about turning a LED on and off? Now as I have done the Nerdkit guide projects and done some projects on my own (mostly modified Nerdkit projects) and followed this forum I am starting to see that these LED projects really are cool and there is a lot (tons) of learning in them (want to make your own font file?). I want to do the LED Array project not because I need a stupid array lighting up my room but because that would lead to something I think would be cool a 10x10x10 tri-color LED cube, now that would be neat and probable require 11 168 MCUs or maybe using what I have learned from Nerdkits I could use a bigger MCU like the Atmega2560 and only need half the MCUs but I would still be mostly using the Nerdkit code, that would be awesome.

Speaking of awesome projects I would like to do, how about a balancebot, now that takes a MCU and a accelerator to control, know what there is a lot tof the code here on the Nerdkit forum just waiting for someone like you to to put together. So what do yo want to do? It's up to you we can not do it for you but we certainly will help.

re:"3. How do I interface with sensors, switches, etc.?" What? You said "I've finished everything in the Guide" but you do not know how to interface with sensors, switches, etc? You must have done a different Guide then I did, as I did switches and temperature controllers even a binary switching project. Is there more to learn? Certainly, who is going to do it? You are, jump in, go for it, what do you want to do?

re "unfulfilled. How do I learn all of the above?" Start doing something of your own, or go to the [Nerdkit Tutorials[(,( which I would suggest doing first).

re:"Where do I look for more? " G-O-O-G-L-E "AVR", fascinating what you can find.

re:"Is there ANYONE out there that teaches all you could want to learn about any particular microcontroller?" Probable not here, we will certainly help and there are some very knowledgeable people here to help, but you have to do the gut work yourself. If you really want "paid" instruction then just go to AVRFreaks, there are a lot of professionals there who will teach you everything you would want to know. If you want to learn more on your own just google AVR or microcontroller programing there are lots of forums and discussion groups like Nerdkits.

re:"How do you go about learning new ones?" Just ask, and put some effort into it. What do you want to do?

Lets talk about it, what would you like to do?


September 05, 2010
by hevans
(NerdKits Staff)

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Hi wbthompsonco,

I'm glad you are very eager to learn, and you are certainly well on your way. At NerdKits we take a very learn-as-go approach education which we find to be very effective. It would be impossible for us to teach everything there is to know about microcontrollers in a single guide (and if we tried it would be really boring). Instead, as you probably have seen, our guide gets you quickly up and running and completing projects, and building up from the basics. How to go about doing the practically unlimited number of things that can be done with a microcontroller will come as you attempt more projects and you have the support of us the NerdKits community if you get stuck.

To answer your questions a little more specifically. The commands you have available to you on the MCU are a combination of most of the things you can do in the C programming language, anything made available to you in the the libc libraries, and things exposed to you as part of the modules on the MCU itself (the ADC, the UART module, the SPI module, etc.) which are all described in the datasheet. In our video tutorials we have gone through most of the modules on the chip and have at least one example somewhere of how to use it in an interesting way. Sensors are very very broad topic. Many of them can be read using the ADC just like the temp sensor project. Many others can be read over the SPI or UART modules. It really depends on the kind of sensor you get. It really is just a matter of diving in a getting good at interpreting datasheets. As to putting together your own projects, we mostly teach this by example. The LED Blink project is a bare bones project with its own Makefile that can be used as a template. Once you start getting more advanced you will learn how to tweak the Makefile to suit your needs.

The learning curve can be quite large with microcontrollers and electronics. I encourage you to stick with it. I do not want you to think that we took your money and did not deliver on what we promised though. If you feel like the NerdKit was not for you, just send us an email, and you can return your kit for a full refund.


September 05, 2010
by wbthompsonco
wbthompsonco's Avatar

Thanks - you've boosted my enthusiasm for this. Yes, it's not what I expected, but that doesn't make it useless. I'll stick with it and see if I arrive where I'm aiming.

September 13, 2010
by n3ueaEMTP
n3ueaEMTP's Avatar

wbthompsonco, I learn by doing, trouble is, like you I was lost for a bit until I realized something that we do in my day job. Don't reinvent the wheel. Start with the programs that came with the kit and modify them. Start small, like adding two temperature sensors to the tempsensor.c project or modifiing the trafficlight.c program to do a series of different things over and over. As you do that, you'll find other little things that you can do to enhance the projects to suit you needs/liking.

Also, ask lots of questions here, everybody is willing to help!

Chris B

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