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Arduino VS Pic Microcontroller

Arduino VS Pic Microcontroller

Since you’ve wound up on this page you’re probably asking what is the difference between microcontroller brands and configurations and I will attempt to answer that very question in this discussion. I got hooked on programming microcontrollers about ten years ago with the basic stamp my first kit was something Parallax produces called the Board of Education.

One thing that I immediately noticed was that this board had a breadboard section on it which was great for developing but not good for a production assembly. The reason I bring this up is like the Basic Stamp the Arduino brings some extra hardware that could be omitted if one were to go into production with their creation. That being said the Arduino has many advantages over The Basic Stamp.

Advantages Of the Arduino

    • Open source code, as well as the compiler and open source hardware. What this essentially means is that the software (compiler) is free. This seems like a good thing right away and the advantages far out weigh the dis advantages.
    • A very large user base, this means that people share and with no restrictions on proprietary code or plans they share without fear of litigation.
    • Availability of cloned arduino boards as well as third party add on boards called shields. Although I’m against the Arduino company not getting their money for a great product they are the ones that decided to make it open source. And make schematics public. Their has been some court battles resulting from other companies using trade names for their boards such as UNO
    • An easy to run IDE (Integrated Development Environment) downloadable at Arduino.cc. I figured out the IDE in about an hour and spent a day brushing up in the programming aspects of the stripped down C that is used. Unlike so many programing tasks that I’ve taken on this seems like there is a finite amount to learn to be reasonably proficient.
    • Start up on the cheap is not only possible but is almost encouraged. I got my first board, a 4WD robot platform, ultrasonic sensors and a 4 channel D.C. motor driver for about $100.00 USD. Stay tuned for how that project goes.

Disadvantages Of the Arduino

    • No simple way to integrate into a production device. Short of putting the whole board programmer into the final box (along with any shield boards that you may have acquired in the project.
    • Relatively slow processors, there are some hot rods made by third parties but lack of comparability will undoubtedly be a factor. Some shield already don’t work with some boards and being downward compatible might be a reason for not building things that exceed 16Mhz.

That’s Really about it for Disadvantages.

Now for the PIC

Back in the Basic Stamp days I regarded the Stamp as “greasy kid’s stuff” when compared with the PIC. This sentiment holds true to a lesser degree with Arduino. That being said remember that with great power comes great aggrivation.

Advantages of PIC microcontrollers.

    • PIC microcontrollers are made by Microchip Corp at www.microchip.com and they have been busy for a very long time. They offer a veriety of hardware for programming and testing their chips some of their gear is suited for the budget minded hobbyist some of their gear is for those with deep pockets.
    • Free IDE downloadable from their site (I’ll save the rest of this for the down side)

Disadvantages of PIC microcontrollers.

    • Although the IDE is downloadable and free you need third party plugins to program in C++ or Basic ect. These third party compilers can cost several hundred dollars. Without one of these third party compilers you could only program in assembly language.
    • Constantly increasing complexity with very little downward comparability, this made learning an ongoing challenge.
    • Very little conversation and support outside of the site. Also the site lacked real time support.
    • I used Mikroe products mikroe.com and they had lots of really cool hardware and very capable software. Although their compilers for C++, Basic, and Delphi were very well thought out the also were betwween $200.00 and $250.00 and you could not do much with their trial versions and the microchip compiler would not talk to the Mikroe boards.

In Summary

These are the advantages and disadvantages I see with each chip set. I will probably work with Audrino for a long time because of the low cost of the parts, a reasonable (and free) compiler and an excellent support base. Although the hardware has the same handycaps as the basic stamp one could breakout the processor and put it on a production board.

If You have found this discussion to be helpful or to ask a question please leave a comment or e-mail me at ron@buildthebot.com

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