I love my AVR microcontrollers and I love my Arduino Mega.
My kids have become a little more interested in electronics now. I am not an expert, but I can write code and I’ve been doing a lot of that with the kids. They come up with something and I try to put it together. I have a sparkfun AVR pocket programmer which is awesome! If you’ve not checked out the microcontroller tutorials on http://newbiehack.com then you are missing out. He does a fantastic job of explaining it to you from set up to your first programs and beyond. I hadn’t done much with an “off the shelf” microcontroller, but always some sort of playground board like the Arduino or Javelin or JStamp… I am very very happy with the Atmega328p (did I mention I was very VERY happy with it?).
I have begun building some prototype boards like these at Embedded Labs so I could construct and deconstruct my projects quickly with the kids while still able to unplug my Arduino so I can use it for coding the 3d scanner portions to control the stepper motors, etc like this and some other scanning without DAVID (http://hackaday.com/2012/04/30/getting-a-textured-3d-scan-from-just-a-webcam/).
This summer we are planning to build the 3d laser scanner with stepper and finish the breakout boards. The kids would like to take their version of Caine’s Arcade and add electronics including some RFID readers to automatically decrement plays from their passes and a bunch of other things. Most of the items they want to do are very cheap to implement, especially using only an AVR (even an 8 bit might be more than we would need) and some cheap 9v or smaller power supplies for each building them on prototype boards.
I have four LCDs here and one Nintendo DS touch screen coming to play with. I’d like to build some awesome controls for the 3d scanner and printer that involve touch screens and SD cards.
In addition to all of that, I have designed a new set of accessories for trooping with the 501st legion to make it easier to tell troopers apart and communicate with fans. It is very hard to hear inside the helmets, so I’ve designed a way to communicate with other 501st troops via radio and with fans via external mics and speakers. I am hoping to get the parts in this next week to begin wiring them together and playing with the AVR controlling it. One version I’m working with includes a HUD for inside helmets – yeah they’re coming along pretty well.
I am off to draw more designs and write more code.