Author Topic: Is AVR Studio good other than being Windows only?  (Read 13612 times)

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Offline FenderBender

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Is AVR Studio good other than being Windows only?
« on: August 26, 2012, 03:36:08 am »
I'm an Arduino boy who wishes he could play in the big leagues. I've downloaded AVR Studio. I'm used to the Visual Studio look and I like it. People don't seem to like it because it's not cross-platform, which is understandable. But with the majority of professional workstations being Windows these days, I could see where they were coming from.

I've been cycling through various microcontrollers and platforms. While I'm comfortable in Arduino, I kind of want to branch out. I briefly considered MSP430. Good micro, but I feel like it would be a big leap for me. I'm still a novice. PIC was on my radar but I think AVR is more powerful in the long run. So I've tentatively decided on getting a AVR Dragon and maybe a cute little development board for it. I don't know.

But people see not to like the AVR Studio environment. Is there something I'm missing? Seems okay to me.

Thanks.
 

Online AndyC_772

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Re: Is AVR Studio good other than being Windows only?
« Reply #1 on: August 26, 2012, 08:12:14 am »
If you do like a tool that others don't get on with, that's OK. If you were doing it for a living, it could even be called a competitive advantage!

I tend to use PIC for several reasons, but primarily because the Microchip product selector is excellent:

http://www.microchip.com/productselector/MCUProductSelector.html

I've not come across a similar tool for AVR, or MSP430, or any other microcontroller range come to think of it. I do this stuff commercially, so it's important for me to be able to choose the most cost-effective part for a given project rather than just one that'll do the job. That may not be something you need to worry about, of course.

The same tool works for all the 8, 16 and 32 bit PICs, and the learning curve for the 32 bit chips really isn't that bad if you already know the 8 bit ones. There's a good book:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Programming-32-bit-Microcontrollers-Exploring-Technology/dp/0750687096/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1345968317&sr=8-1

The new PIC development environment is MPLAB X, which I personally don't like nearly as much as the old MPLAB 8. I've found it quite slow and buggy, and clearly a work-in-progress that's not yet really ready for service - but it's under constant development and should certainly become quite a good tool once it's refined enough.

Offline aluck

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Re: Is AVR Studio good other than being Windows only?
« Reply #2 on: August 26, 2012, 12:46:02 pm »
Anyway - forget the Dragon, get some JTAG Ice MkII clone. I've got both, going to sell Dragon - don't use it at all.
 

Offline firewalker

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Re: Is AVR Studio good other than being Windows only?
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2012, 01:03:40 pm »
Will an MKII clone support DebugWire?

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Offline FenderBender

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Re: Is AVR Studio good other than being Windows only?
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2012, 03:21:13 pm »
Anyway - forget the Dragon, get some JTAG Ice MkII clone. I've got both, going to sell Dragon - don't use it at all.

For what reason do you not like it? Can it not just function as a programmer if you want. I was looking at the Cpuzone ICE MKII. I don't know. Even though Dragon has got a bad rap in the past, are you really comfortable using a non-Atmel programmer?
 

Offline FenderBender

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Re: Is AVR Studio good other than being Windows only?
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2012, 03:35:14 pm »
If you do like a tool that others don't get on with, that's OK. If you were doing it for a living, it could even be called a competitive advantage!

I tend to use PIC for several reasons, but primarily because the Microchip product selector is excellent:

http://www.microchip.com/productselector/MCUProductSelector.html

I've not come across a similar tool for AVR, or MSP430, or any other microcontroller range come to think of it. I do this stuff commercially, so it's important for me to be able to choose the most cost-effective part for a given project rather than just one that'll do the job. That may not be something you need to worry about, of course.

The same tool works for all the 8, 16 and 32 bit PICs, and the learning curve for the 32 bit chips really isn't that bad if you already know the 8 bit ones. There's a good book:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Programming-32-bit-Microcontrollers-Exploring-Technology/dp/0750687096/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1345968317&sr=8-1

The new PIC development environment is MPLAB X, which I personally don't like nearly as much as the old MPLAB 8. I've found it quite slow and buggy, and clearly a work-in-progress that's not yet really ready for service - but it's under constant development and should certainly become quite a good tool once it's refined enough.

Thank you. It's all a bit of a challenge for me.
 

Online bingo600

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Re: Is AVR Studio good other than being Windows only?
« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2012, 05:56:35 pm »
Anyway - forget the Dragon, get some JTAG Ice MkII clone. I've got both, going to sell Dragon - don't use it at all.

But that's like saying to a basic car user, forget the VW get an Audi.
I'd prob. also sell my VW if i also had the Audi.

But that doesn't mean that the VW wouldn't be good enough for basic transportation.


The JTAG Ice MkII , can do everything a Dragon can , plus a bit more (some PDI/TPI).
It is is faster and better protected , but it's also 4 times the price. (If speaking about Original Atmel devices).

I'd still recommend a Dragon , to a new Atmel user.
1: It's 4 times cheaper (than an original MKII-ICE), and can do what the OP wants.
2: It has good support (users at avrfreaks.net)
3: It comes with a warranty , if bought through a local dealer
4: There is "Official" software support
5: It can do HV programming (if ever needed)

@OP  remember that you can reuse all your Arduino hw. (boards etc) , when switching to AvrStudio (I suppose you will program in C).
Under the hood Arduino also uses avr-gcc and avr-libc.
So basically you are just switching away from all the "layers" that the arduino-libs add to the plain avr-gcc/avr-libc environment.

If you want to try AvrStudio out wo. a programmer , you could use AvrStudio to generate the code.
Anf then ... just as arduino does.
Use avrdude to program the AvrStudio generated hexfile into the arduino board you allready have.

/Bingo
« Last Edit: August 26, 2012, 05:59:54 pm by bingo600 »
 

Offline NiHaoMike

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Re: Is AVR Studio good other than being Windows only?
« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2012, 09:40:15 pm »
I can highly recommend PIC and MPLABX if you want to go that way. The popular misconception that Arduino is faster than PIC is because the original PIC16 series took at least 4 cycles per instruction while the Arduino platforms only took 1. Nowadays, you can get dsPICs and PIC32s that will easily outpace any Arduino.
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Offline aluck

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Re: Is AVR Studio good other than being Windows only?
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2012, 01:08:12 am »
Will an MKII clone support DebugWire?

Alexander.
Mine does support DebugWire.
 

Offline FenderBender

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Re: Is AVR Studio good other than being Windows only?
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2012, 01:17:26 am »
Oooo nice they make a good dozen Pic32s in DIP. That's interesting to know.

Now one question I have about Pic is the compiler. I'd like to program in C but it is my understanding I have to pay for a compiler?
 

Offline aluck

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Re: Is AVR Studio good other than being Windows only?
« Reply #10 on: August 27, 2012, 01:23:06 am »
For what reason do you not like it?
Basically, because it's a piece of shit - both as a programmer and as a debugger.

As a programmer in ISP mode it's OK. There's no cable supplied, so you have to make it - but that's fine. What's worse, there are two drivers for Dragon - officialy one that works with AVR Studio and generic that works with avrdude. So you have to choose, if you are going to program one way or the other. If you change your mind - good luck removing old driver from your registry.

As a programmer in HVPP - typically you will have to manually wire a couple dozens of contacts. Every time. No modules for specific uC, nothing. Just a universal programmer (I use TOP3100) will be much more convenient. And you only need HVPP if you messed with fuses and failed miserably. Kind of a rare occasion.

As a debugger... It's a nightmare. You are lucky if you got it going with your AVR Studio. There are numerous threads on avrfreaks about this. Finally, I got mine working after unchecking some obscure checkbox deep inside AVR Studio Tools menus.

Then, each time you upgrade your AVR Studio, you will have to upgrade (or downgrade) Dragon's firmware. Once I had two projects, one for AVR Studio 4 and another for AVR Studio 5. And each time after switching from one project to another I had to download and install firmware. Sounds like a poor design for me.

It doesn't support modern uC. I.e. it does support JTAG for atmega64, but does not support atmega644.

Then I got mkII clone. No problems since then. Works like a charm. 100% compatible with original (yes, it even supports online firmware upgrade if you wish).

If someone is going to buy AVR Dragon - I am going to put mine on ebay. Waste of money.
 

Offline aluck

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Re: Is AVR Studio good other than being Windows only?
« Reply #11 on: August 27, 2012, 01:26:19 am »
It is is faster and better protected , but it's also 4 times the price. (If speaking about Original Atmel devices).
I don't care if it's original if it works fine. Got mine for $129.99, including shipping - Dragon cost about $70. Not a big difference.
 

Offline FenderBender

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Re: Is AVR Studio good other than being Windows only?
« Reply #12 on: August 27, 2012, 01:37:50 am »
Well that's interesting. I heard it was a bit flaky anyhow.

I downloaded MPLAB X just now. I dunno. I like the feel of AVR Studio better. But I haven't done anything in either yet so not a fair judgement.
 

Offline bxs

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Re: Is AVR Studio good other than being Windows only?
« Reply #13 on: August 27, 2012, 02:38:42 am »
Oooo nice they make a good dozen Pic32s in DIP. That's interesting to know.

Now one question I have about Pic is the compiler. I'd like to program in C but it is my understanding I have to pay for a compiler?

For PIC32 you should use Mplab XC32, it's a GCC C/C++ based compiler and exist a Free license for it but limits the amount of optimizations.
 

Online AndyC_772

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Re: Is AVR Studio good other than being Windows only?
« Reply #14 on: August 27, 2012, 08:27:50 am »
By all accounts it's not much of a limit, though. I use the free PIC compilers and can't say I even noticed when my eval period ran out for the optimisations.

Online poorchava

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Re: Is AVR Studio good other than being Windows only?
« Reply #15 on: August 27, 2012, 09:36:02 am »
In terms of development tools, Microchip owns Atmel's ass bigtime (with no lube  ???). Atmel's tools are cumbersome, they cost ALOT and provide little functionality (btw. IMO whole design where you can brick your micro with one click and need special hvpp programmer to undo that is broken to begin with). On the other hand you can get GENUINE PicKit 2 or 3 for under $50 which servers as programmer, debugger, simple logic probe and uart to usb converter. And for PicKit 2 they have released source code once they moved on to PicKit 3. On top of that microchip does provide samples if you don't abuse the service, Atmel doesn't give a damn.

Atmel's 8 bit AVR architecture is better than PIC16/PIC18, but again - you cannot really compare Atmel's MCUs to something like dsPIC33, because they're like century apart. I've started from Atmel micros, but then moved to PIC24H/dsPIC33 and MSP430 when Atmega 8 used to cost like $4 in retail (now learning to use Cortex M0's from NXP, and LPC1111 costs like $2 in single qty) and I'll probably never go back to Atmel.
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Offline FenderBender

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Re: Is AVR Studio good other than being Windows only?
« Reply #16 on: August 27, 2012, 04:16:41 pm »
Ugh. I Want to find a good platform and settle on it/try to learn it. Of course there are problems with that as you have all said. Atmel's low end range is > Microchips low end range, but Microchips mid/high range > Atmel's. But then there's ARM. And Pic32! And oh boy it's a mess.

I want to learn Pic because seems to have better acceptance in the real world.

But MPLAB X just confuses the hell out of me. BUT, Microchip's guides and documentation are 10x better than Atmel's. So if I wanted to learn "real" microcontrollers, I think Pic would be the best way to go.

But coming from Arduino, all this set-up code and even things like timers and interrupts are new to me!

Now what...
 

Offline aluck

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Re: Is AVR Studio good other than being Windows only?
« Reply #17 on: August 28, 2012, 08:25:12 am »
I want to learn Pic because seems to have better acceptance in the real world.
Oh really?.. =) Think twice.
 

Online poorchava

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Re: Is AVR Studio good other than being Windows only?
« Reply #18 on: August 28, 2012, 08:31:32 am »
If you want to learn something that is widely used, go for ARM. It's probably the most widely used core EVER. U can't go wrong with that.

On the other hand low range PICs are used for two reasons: simplicity and long term support. For one unlike Atmel, Microchip has thousands of different models with different peripherals etc, so you can choose simplest one that fits your application and thus decrease cost and increase reliability. I know that low range PICs are used in automotive as safety management controllers (lie a more advanced external watchdog) because of their simplicity.

Microchip is also known for providing support for a very long time, and even if some product is withdrawn, they usually propose some newer design which is designed to be - among other things - 100% backwards compatible with the withdrawn model.

PIC32s are nice, they pack a LOT of power but are far less common than ARM solutions. They are basically MIPS4k core with PIC24H peripherals.
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Offline westfw

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Re: Is AVR Studio good other than being Windows only?
« Reply #19 on: August 28, 2012, 10:04:17 pm »
Quote
But MPLAB X just confuses the hell out of me.
As far as I can tell, ALL of the major Microcontroller IDEs (MPLAB-X (based on Netbeans), Atmel Studio (New version based on Visual Studio), TI's CCS (based on Eclipse), and assorted ARM IDEs (mostly based on Eclipse)) are confusing piles of feature-itis, with substantial annoyances and numerous bugs.  Confusing and hard-to-get-started is "typical."  You just have to bite the bullet and jump in anyway.  (the 2nd one will be easier!  And it'll be somewhat easier if you've programmed for desktops using some common IDE.)

There are two alternatives that I can think of:
1) Arduino and similar (now available for AVR, PIC32, and MSP430, more or less.)
    Simplistic to the point of being frustratingly lacking in common features.  No debugging capability.  You've read the flames; they're all mostly true.  This is designed for non-technical types (Artists!); you are unlikely to find an experienced developer who actually "likes" the IDE.  But a beginner can be up and running in minutes.

2) Your favorite editor, a command line shell, and a bunch of command-line tools (preferably starting with someone else's working makefiles and batch files or shell scripts.)  (WINAVR is a good example.)  If you've done this sort of thing before, you might like it OK.  If you haven't, you'll probably think it's 80s era retro computing (and correctly so!)
 

Offline FenderBender

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Re: Is AVR Studio good other than being Windows only?
« Reply #20 on: August 28, 2012, 11:35:43 pm »
Yeah the learning curve on modern IDEs is pretty steep in my opinion. Maybe if I was a professional and I had to learn PIC or AVR, I would do it, but since I'm a hobbyist, just getting myself to sit down and learn the little quirks and peevs of MPLAB or AVR Studio isn't worth my time. Likewise as you've said, you loose a lot of functionality and control when you switch over to an Arduino-esque editor. They have lots of libraries to cover your ass, but as far as actually understanding how a microcontroller works, I'm not so sure they do the best job. Everything is pretty hidden. However, a good thing about Arduino is that you CAN ditch almost the entire Arduino thing...like the bootloader, or the libraries if you don't want them.

I saw this interesting thing the other day called Arduino for Visual Studio. I'm not sure if it can do debugging, but it looks like an interesting hybrid between Arduino and an IDE.
 

Offline westfw

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Re: Is AVR Studio good other than being Windows only?
« Reply #21 on: August 29, 2012, 03:17:31 am »
Quote
as far as actually understanding how a microcontroller works
No IDE is going to help you much with that, IMO.  And you can ignore simplified libraries (like arduino's) and write real code, or just import pre-prepared stuff and libraries (Most microcontroller vendors are now providing extensive libraries) regardless of the IDE.

Now, an IDE (and particularly a simulator) that *is* aimed at understanding the microcontroller is an interesting idea.  It shouldn't be impossible; but the market is probably a bit limited.  It would have to be someone's labor of love, and people would only like it for that first microcontroller experience.   It would probably be annoying to use "in real life"...
 

Offline poptones

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Re: Is AVR Studio good other than being Windows only?
« Reply #22 on: August 29, 2012, 04:44:46 am »
Isn't it ironic. Novices are confused and intimidated by config registers and interrupts, and one of the worse things about coding for pics is the lack of interrupts.
 

Offline westfw

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Re: Is AVR Studio good other than being Windows only?
« Reply #23 on: August 29, 2012, 05:26:05 am »
Quote
one of the worse things about coding for pics is the lack of interrupts.
Most of the PICs have interrupts (all but those with 12-bit instruction words, IIRC.)  What the basic PICs lack is vectored interrupts (ie a different ISR for each interrupt source._
PIC18 has two vectors.
The 16bit and 32bit PICs (PIC24, PIC30, PIC33, PIC32) have fully modern interrupt controllers with more vectors than you can shake a stick at...
 

Online poorchava

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Re: Is AVR Studio good other than being Windows only?
« Reply #24 on: August 29, 2012, 06:44:54 am »
Actually for simple interrupt usage I think non-vectored interrupt system is better. You can very easily and intuitively set up desired interrupt priorities using basic C constructs and not bothering about setting the hardware interrupt controller (man, hate to setup the NVIC in ARMs)
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