Every now and then I get an itch to do something different. These days I scratch that itch with microcontrollers and embedded programming. Working with micros are a nice change of pace after spending all day working with SharePoint and .NET (though I love to work with MOSS). Most of the playtime is spent using the C or Assembly language . Micro programming is a world of ports and registers, hex and binary – a place that most .NET developers never see.
Half of the fun is working with digital electronics, capacitors, diodes, resistors, integrated circuits, breadboards and wires. There is a certain amount of satisfaction when you create your own 5 volt power regulator and it actually puts out a clean 5V signal. Right now I am working with the ATMega168 controller which retails for about $4. Toss in a the 5V power regulator and about $5 in capacitors, resistors and an 16mhz oscillator you have pretty nice little microcontroller set up.
Last night I was working with the ATMega168 controller and the Bare-Bones Board Kit from Modern Device Company. For a few dollars you get all these parts…
and with some solder and heat you end up with..
Trust me, it is a great feeling to actually start from the pieces, spend an hour soldering and find out that it actually works when it is finished. Great little diversion and one more thing to code.