August 23rd, 2004

angry box

Thoughts on microcontrollers?

I've abandoned the PIC line of microcontrollers, due to the dwindling support of non-wintel development environments. I've given away most of my chips and programmers, too.

However, I still have use for microcontrollers for a variety of projects. What I'm looking for is:

  • DIP packages (I handbuild most of my gear, and SMT just makes that harder)
  • Serial or USB link to programmer (no parallel port gear, but I do have a USB-serial converter that should be usable)
  • Open source compilers, assemblers, linkers, and programmer drivers (I use MacOS, Solaris, and netBSD)
  • A reasonable assembly language
  • Reasonable cost and availability (I tend to buy tubes of chips at a time and use 'em for everything)
  • Reasonable number/choice of I/O pins (from small chips with 5 I/O to large ones with 20 or more)
    • Desirable features:

      • Available breadboard/development boards
      • onboard A/D
      • onboard D/A
      • built-in regulator or flexible supply requirements
      • Low power consumption mode
      • onboard clock generator option

      The current front-runner is the AVR series (now supported by generic gcc distros). I'm also considering 68HC11 type chips, and have looked over 8051 variants, ARM variants, and Z8 variants. Thoughts? Ideas? Caveats? Gotchas? War stories?

  • Current Music
    Also Sprach Zarathustra-Deodato-Preludes And Rhapsodies