Showing posts with label development board. Show all posts
Showing posts with label development board. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

STK 200: Basic Layout Guide

The Kanda STK 200 has a lot of really cool features. But when I first got the board, I didn't even know where to begin. This post goes over the board's basic layout and the main features that it includes.

I/O: Really, the core function of a microcontroller is Input/Output. In fact, out of the ATmega32's 40 pins, 32 pins are set aside for I/O. They are organized into four 8-pin ports named PORTA, PORTB, PORTC, and PORTD. The STK 200 makes it really easy to access these ports by giving them each headers. The board even labels the headers using the standard naming convention established by the AVR family (PORTA, etc.). Each header includes it's own VCC and GND, which devices almost always require. LEDs and switches are probably the most common form of I/O; conveniently, the STK 200 has 8 LEDs and 8 switches built into the board. You can dedicate ports to the LEDs, the switches or both using a 10-pin ribbon cable provided with the board and pictured below. PORTB is lined up with the LED input header and PORTD is lined up with the switches output header for an easy connection.
STK 200: I/O

Monday, January 9, 2012

Q&A: What is a development board?

arduino and breadboard
A development board is a printed circuit board with circuitry and hardware designed to facilitate experimentation with a certain microcontroller.

Imagine if you had a microcontroller which could do all kinds of cool things but to be able to use it, you had to set up a bunch of circuitry and hardware on your breadboard each time. Obviously, this would get sort of frustrating, especially when there are circuits which are going to be the same every time, such as the power circuit. Also there are certain hardware circuits which greatly aid testing and debugging such as pushbuttons and LEDs. Having all of the hardware and circuitry already constructed makes life much easier and is much more conducive to experimentation and general prototyping.

Typical components of a development board include:
-power circuit; typically set up to run off of a 9V power supply
-programming interface; an easy way program the microcontroller from a computer
-basic input; usually buttons
-basic output; usually LEDs
-I/O pins; to be used for everything else, motors, temperature sensors, LCD screens, etc.

Probably the most popular and recognizable development board is the Arduino, and for good reason. The Arduino is exceedingly simple to use and even open source. But there are many, many other great development boards such as the BeagleBoard, the Chumby board and the TI Launchpad. Again, these are only boards that I have had contact with but there are many others.

Working with development boards can be educational, fulfilling and fun. Go ahead and try working with one and I bet you will learn something new.

LINKS:
This is an incredible resource from Hack A Day: http://hackaday.com/2011/02/01/what-development-board-to-use/
Wikipedia on development boards: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microprocessor_development_board