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Is Electronics & Microcontrollers more interesting

Just came across a recent post stating
"For any developers who want something new, try electronics.  There's no money or jobs in it, but it's interesting.  Start with digital, analog will only confuse you.  www.microchip.com has the PIC range.  Little uPs with a few k (yes K) of memory, heaps of 'net sources, C & Basic compilers, etc.

AJS
Wednesday, October 29, 2003 "

Just curious how many of you are interested in electronics and micros just like they are in UI for Windows apps. How many are developing software products and doing embedded/electronics stuff ?

Sunish
Wednesday, October 29, 2003

I like the microchip.com controllers quite a bit myself. They're spiffy. Ridiculously cheap also and have great development tools.

Do you have some irritating bother in your household - perhaps the coffeemaker won't talk to the sereo system in the manner you'd like? Throw a one-off embedded system at the problem!

The quote is right - it's a great hobby and fun galore. If you like that sort of thing, that is. Which you do if you is a engineer else what the heck is you doin?

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Dennis,
Have you heard of JAL - Just Another Language a free language for  PIC micros ? Quite good and now open sourced http://www.voti.nl/jal/index.html

Would make things even easier as you don't have to code in assembly.

Sunish
Wednesday, October 29, 2003

The PicAxe chips are good fun too.

These days electronics is more software than hardware.  Before you needed 20 chips and a lot of knowledge.  Now you need 1 chip and less knowledge.  You can create device that were almost impossible 15 years ago.  An electronic guitar tuner, completed in a few hours?  Unheard of!

The amount of waste in todays society is criminal.

Today I stripped a junked microwave.  The display (nice & bright) will become a speedo on my bike.  The humidity sensor will end up doing something if I figure out how it works.  The turntable motor will drive a small tumbler polisher.

Beats writing payroll software!

AJS
Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Thanks Sunish I'll look at JAL.

Dennis Atkins
Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Don't forget embedded software development.  It's definitely interesting.  If you are looking to make a hobby robot, be sure to check out seattlerobotics.org, robominds.com, acroname.com, etc.

zigzag
Wednesday, October 29, 2003

I work for an embedded company.

The embedded market (as a whole) is HUGE.  98% of all 32-bit processors go into embedded applications (and that's not even counting the 8 and 16-bit ones).

Just think about the people who write the software for your cell phone, your VCR's menu system, your car engine's ECU.  And that's just the consumer stuff.

Don't forget about the industrial/military market (where my company is).  Volumes are much lower, but systems are several times more expensive.

Depending on the application, embedded stuff can be pretty intense.  What happens when your pacemaker software crashes, or the Patriot Missle has a pointer arithmetic error?  (Both of these are real problems that happened)

Myron A. Semack
Wednesday, October 29, 2003

The quoted post in the OP shouldn't have disparaged analog.  With operational amplifiers (op-amps)and various analog subsystems available on ICs for a dollar or two each,  you can put together a lot of circuits with a few parts and just basic knowledge.  Or you can digitize the signal and apply DSP techniqures, but that does require a bit more effort.

mackinac
Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Now we have a lot of analog functions within a micro. Like most of the new Microchip micros habe comparators and some do have opamps IIRC.

Sunish
Thursday, October 30, 2003

mackinac, I'm not dismissing analog, just pointing out, as you did also, that it requires more effort.

You end up learning analog anyway (you can't really avoid it), but for developers used to coding VB, digital is an easier learning curve.

It's like the old beginners question, 'what scope should I buy?'  Answer - None, at the moment.

AJS
Thursday, October 30, 2003

Almost forgot, Wouter, the guy who wrote JAL, showing up in the various newsgroups a lot.  Try www.piclist.com, or PicList & JALList in YahooGroup.

AJS
Thursday, October 30, 2003

www.xgamestation.com - 'nuff said.

H. Lally Singh
Thursday, October 30, 2003

OK, I looked at JAL. It's closed source but you have to have a LGPL license. First time I've seen that.

So far assembly has worked for me with the microchip line. I find it's faster to code in than other methods.

Dennis Atkins
Friday, October 31, 2003

There's a lot happening in the JAL area.  The webpage you might have seen is probably not updated. Jave a look at http://jal.sourceforge.net/ 

Also the yahoogroups at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/jallist/ is the place where the jal action is. BTW I had developed an IDE for JAL at http://jaledit.sunish.net. Not a very complete thing, but works for me and I do have people using it happily.

Sunish
Friday, October 31, 2003

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