I'm a total newbie who doesn't know a lot as I have never programmed microcontrollers. I have only programmed computers. I started on the Parallax Propeller but the manual for the editor was about 30 pages and then they told me I should have started with another kit when they could have just made the manual for beginners. Then I saw Brad's Projects and then I ordered a Pikit 2 and some free Pics (samples). The website was down for a while and I had only copied the projects into Microsoft Word but I didn't save the code for some reason so I didn't get started. I then ordered "What is a Microcontroller?" from Parallax but I didn't get a chance to use it. All of the forum help on Parallax's website didn't help me get started. The other problem is that when you have children and are married, you can live a pretty busy life and I couldn't read two pages without getting interrupted a lot and there were other things going on. I kept reading what I could on the internet and there was this beginner platform called the Arduino which everyone makes fun of but if you don't know anything then this may be a good place to start. The Arduino has a lot of free tutorials on the web and some of them are short so if you have time constraints and don't know a lot like me then it starts to look attractive. The second reason I chose Arduino was the idea that I could learn on this platform and possibly translate the knowledge I learned to other platforms I want to use.
A little history about me.
I started programming on a Commodore 64 and Commodore made some nice machines but the company went bankrupt. It has been probably 25 years and I don't like what has become of a lot of computers so I decided to see what I could do with microcontrollers to help create the kind of computers I want to use. This is a totally bold idea to do something I never did before because I don't know a lot about electronics and I haven't programmed chips at the bare (minimum) metal. There were some LCD displays that I would need to use to begin and Arduino had the most tutorials for them so I bought my first Arduino. Money and time is a constraint as I will slow down until I can afford the next part and a lot of what I want to do will seem impossible. Learning is something I have to make time for so I may not get a lot accomplished. After spending approximately two years researching different parts, I have become bored whereas some of my other priorities have also changed.
The following is a picture of the top of my Arduino. I'm sure you've all seen pictures of them before. I tried taking about 30 pictures until I got some half decent ones.
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The next picture is the bottom of my Arduino board. There are four rubber stick on feet that I have to figure out where to apply to the board but it isn't something that I'm going to do right away as I don't need them yet. I haven't tried my Arduino yet and it is basically going to stay in the box for a while.
As I said before, the Arduino box reminds me of those crayons they give kids in restaurants. We would go to a restaurant and they would give us four crayons in a box. The Arduino came in a box with a seal and it is only slightly larger than a box with four crayons. The box isn't even 3/4ths of an inch tall. The box is 3 inches by 2 and 1/4 inches.
Arduino Intro 019.jpg [ 334.26 KiB | Viewed 869 times ]
What is a microcontroller worth? If manuals are only written for engineers and the average person can't do anything with them then what are they worth for the beginner? Microcontrollers are only worth what you can do with them. It is sort of like gold. When the economy was good, people thought that you could make more money at the stock market so they didn't bother with gold. If you bought gold for $200 an ounce, you probably couldn't sell it at most places because most businesses only wanted to sell it. Now that the economy in my country has hit hard times due to the price of oil, now everyone wants to buy gold because it can retain its value. In other words, gold is only as good as what you can do with it. Before gold was cheap and the average jeweler didn't want it and now everyone wants it. In the same way, microcontrollers are only as good as what you can do with them. If you can do something with them then you create your own demand for them.