Electronics > Microcontrollers

Is arduino the best?

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I'm new to the electronics hobby. I am trying to learn I'm not young anymore and because of medications for disability I am limited to how quickly and easily I can learn. Being disabled has also made my income and allowable expenses for the hobby very limited. My question is which is easier and more cost effective for programmers it seems everything electronics is arduino or pic based so I figure I should learn one or the other. From my readings it seems the arduino is a bit more user friendly and has a larger user base but I kinda like the abilities that the pic chip enables. I will ahve to save up for a while before I can purchase either of these anyway but more feedback on what system is easier to learn and more worth my time would be appreciated. i found this on the net and it looks very interesting any thoughts? http://www.mikroe.com/easypic/

Learn to program one micro in C and you've pretty much learnt the core of programming them all.

If cost is you biggest concern, just pick up something cheap.  Seriously something like an Arduino for $15 from china off ebay or an MSP430 for $10 (and I'm sure there's some cheap as PIC boards as well,) is all you need to start with (and a few led + resistors etc, again off ebay as you need them.)

The number of freely available resources on the web for any of these platforms is huge.  The most important skills to be developed aren't platform centric, they're the generic ones.


Mike Warren:
If you're interested in actually building things, rather than programming them, then I would not recommend Arduino. They are great if programming is more what you're interested in.

If you have a breadboard, just grab the cheapest PIC or AVR you can find and the basic programmer for it (PICKit3 for PIC or AVRISP MKII for AVR) and plan to start simple. Just flash an LED. Then you can move on from there. A dev kit is another way to get started. Slightly more expensive, but more features too.

For PIC, there's PicKit3 Debug Express, and a good start for AVRs is to get an Arduino board like a Leonardo (and the AVRISP MKII programmer) and erase the Arduino stuff off the chip.

I wouldn't recommend jumping in with the kit you mentioned unless you can easily afford it. Get started as quickly as possible and grow from there. At least you will have something to play with while saving up.

There's lots of tutorials, sample code  and help on the net  for both PIC and AVR.

I would say arduino is a solid base line for starters with no experience in wiring up circuits or programming.  The programming side is built around a framework that handles most of the lower level details so you do not need to worry about them.  For instance it is much easier to modify the I/O ports on the AVR as well as interface with externals like LCD's due to the interfacing code being done for you in the arduino LCD library.  Wiring is a bit easier because of all the adapter shields that are out there ready made for you.  It is often as simple as slapping on the right shield.  It could get more complicated as you start doing more advanced stuff.  One such limitation of learning is that the arduino framework does not map pins like they are actually mapped on the AVR chip they actually change the pin layout through abstraction so instead of having x number of pins on each port you are seeing x number of pins.  So you do not need to worry about ensuring you are accessing the right pin on the proper port the framework handles that for you.  This could be annoying if you decide later on to go with straight up AVR down the road because you are not learning how AVR works you are learning how Arduino work.  This in the long road can be a major setback.  You could however get an arduino and a AVR book and just make the pin translations and learn AVR instead this way you do not need to pick up programmer hardware initially.

I have an Arduino UNO and I have not touched it yet.  I plan to down the road but probably more so as a AVR platform rather than a Arduino platform.  Right now I am using PIC uC's.

As to answer is Arduino the best I would say no there is no best platform like there is no best programming language.  It is a means to an end to learn electronics and uC's.  Each chip and or platform has it's pros and it's cons.  In your situation I would say Arduino is a solid place to start as it is easier to learn initially.  Overall the decision is yours as it really depends on what your ultimate goal with it is.


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