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  • EEVblog #31 – Microcontroller Datasheet Utopia

    Posted on September 14th, 2009 EEVblog 24 comments

    Dave gets disturbingly emotional about microcontroller datasheets and documentation.

    LINKS:
    The NEC Micro datasheet(20pin) and datasheet(80pin)

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    • Robert

      Haha looks really nice! :D So it will be chip like this for your project then? :) How many different MCU familys have you worked with? I don’t mean to start any flames, I also like to read about and try different stuff! I have used PIC some and avr and are trying out MSP430 right now since everything around TI with sampling, software and support seamed good, and also since they seam to have a complete set of micros from low-end to hi-end…

      But however, since I know you have some years in the job, how do you think about different micros, any favorites or pros and cons? Or maybe sometimes the micros are pretty much the same and stuff like this documentation could make a good thing, do you know any other pro or con about any MCU company that could be good to know?

      Regards

      • http://www.alternatezone.com/eevblog admin

        Every project usually has it’s own unique requirements. For example, if the project was a rush job and I had to get it running tomorrow I’d simply pick the chip and toolchain I am most recently familiar with, as lowest development risk would be the #1 requirement.

        Another project might need the ultimate in low power consumption at 1MHz while requiring a certain peripheral set and chip package size etc, so you’d have a whole bunch of equally important requirements that your current favourite brand micro could not provide. So you’d have to shop around very carefully.

        Another project might need the absolute lowest cost, so easy OTP or mask options might be the most important to you.

        Basically when it comes down to it they are all pretty much the same, so it really doesn’t matter what one you use. It’s hard to keep up-to-date and experienced with all the brands and toolchains etc, so that’s why most people stick with something they know. And those people can get very defensive of their choice! (not naming names of course – *cough* AVR *cough*)

    • Steve

      I’m in the midst of making a USB device and using a Freescale 9S12UF32 16-bit MCU to handle everything. One of my goals to this project is to give enthusiasts a chance to build what I built with very little knowledge. IE: provide enough documentation that the person will understand how everything works by the time they’re done. What would you (or anyone) recommend for types of ways to produce documentation? I am currently making a TRAC website and Wiki pages with pictures and step-by-step procedures.

    • http://- Willem

      Do I have to print it on A2 paper size, or is A3 just fine.
      Absolutely a fantastic datasheet.
      I really print it out and stick it to the wall above my bed :)

      • http://www.alternatezone.com/eevblog admin

        A3 is fine for the 20 pin chip, but two A3′s are needed at a minimum for the 80pin one.
        If I was seriously working with it every day then I’d print them even bigger again.

    • http://www.rleach.id.au ryan leach

      Hey Dave, you do know what “trolling some websites” means right?

      not the best reference but it sums it up pretty well, note it can be not safe for work in the language used.

      http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=trolling

      Number 1:

      Being a p###k on the internet because you can. Typically unleashing one or more cynical or sarcastic remarks on an innocent by-stander, because it’s the internet and, hey, you can.
      Guy: “I just found the coolest ninja pencil in existence.”
      Other Guy: “I just found the most retarded thread in existence.”

      BUT great blog post, love the datasheet.

      • http://www.alternatezone.com/eevblog admin

        Yes, I’m aware of what trolling means in the Internet sense (it’s only a recent term in that respect), but trolling is also an old colloquial term that is commonly used to describe “fishing” or searching for something. In fact the Macquarie dictionary defines it as “to fish with a moving line, trailing it behind a boat”. WordWeb has that definition as well as “Circulate, move around”.
        So maybe not the best choice of term, but one I commonly use, and I’m sure most people would understand it in context.

      • Jacob

        New Oxford American Dictionary

        troll
        verb [ intrans. ]
        1 fish by trailing a baited line along behind a boat : we trolled for mackerel.

        • am

          I think the word he was looking for was “trawling”

          • http://www.alternatezone.com/eevblog admin

            No, I meant to say “trolling”, but “trawling” is essentially the same meaning in this context and probably the more common saying perhaps?
            English ain’t a simple language, hey cobber?!

    • Kathy Quinlan

      Hi Dave,

      Actually I must say I choose parts based on supplier, I love AVR so they get the most use, but I mainly use them due to a few great suppliers here in Oz (Bramac and Avnet) if the support from these two companies was crap I would choose another supplier and use what they support.

      Love the good work, keep it up :)

      Kat.

    • Katie W

      Dave,

      A nice ending to your video! I usually feel like the tape just ran out at the end but this time I knew it was really over :)

      Keep up the excellent and very enjoyable to watch vblog!

      -Katie

      • http://www.alternatezone.com/eevblog admin

        “I usually feel like the tape just ran out at the end”
        Yes, that’s an unfortunate consequence of the 10min limit. I’m almost always severely editing the clips to just sneak under 10min, so good non-abrupt endings are usually not possible.

    • http://www.davidaa.co.uk David

      Yet another great blog. There’s nothing worse than wondering why a microcontroller does not work and then realising the datasheet states its an analogue I/O by default in small print somewhere at the bottom of the page!

      On a side-note, does anyone have any experience in designing simple oscilloscopes? This is a potential final year project idea for me. I’m talking a very basic scope here, probably based around a microcontroller and an FPGA to do some simple DSP.

      Dave

      • http://www.alternatezone.com/eevblog admin

        I’ve published several DSO designs many many years ago:
        http://www.alternatezone.com/electronics/dsoa.htm
        http://www.alternatezone.com/electronics/dsoamk3.htm
        There might be an idea or two in there for you.

        Dave.

      • Raj

        about 5 years ago I bought one of these:

        http://www.fpga4fun.com/Hands-on_Flashy.html

        It’s a simple setup with a couple ADCs and an FPGA. The one I have is USB and is also my primary oscilloscope. Mainly due to the fact that when I was 15 I couldn’t afford a real scope and due to moving around a lot, all my electronics kit had to fit in one laptop bag. It still works, and is only really useful to check if your wave is the right shape. You can get the FPGA board with or without an arm processor I think. If you buy it, they’ll send you a load of source code and fpga demo programs for you to play around with.

        Though you’ll be glad to know Dave, that I’ve ordered myself a Rigol 50MHz digital scope after seeing your review. It should be arriving any day now ^_^. Exciting!

    • Kathy Quinlan

      I bet Dave has covered his cubical at work with these (sort of like a geeky wallpaper ;)

      I would do my office, but there is not much on spare wall space, most walls are covered with shelves ;)

      Kat.

      • http://www.alternatezone.com/eevblog admin

        Actually, every (very spacious) cubicle has a huge 2m long glass whiteboard.
        They won’t actually let us hang stuff up on the newly painted walls, I was busted by the cubicle nazi :-(

    • http://www.idea2ic.com/ Don Sauer

      Dave, I agree with you. It sure is nice when someone puts some extra love into their documentation, or for that matter their work. Some of us really appreciate this as a type of art.

    • Dusan Sukovic

      Dave,

      I’m bit new to electronics and I don’t know how to read datasheets, (yeah funny! ;)) Where should I start? Thanks for great blog!

    • Steve Brune

      At my last employer we used NEC micros (V850E) in the safety system controllers we sold to GM and Ford. We bought millions of them.

    • Alex

      Hi Dave,

      You might want to post an update on those spec links since after the merger with Renesas the old NEC links are dead.

      Thanks!

    • Rok
    • Timo Virkkala