Which microcontroller

Hi All,
I would like to build my first very small robot and would apprecieate a recomendation for a small micro-controller to use

I would ideally like something cheap, small, and programmable in C (not assembly).

I see on the Help link there is a Handy Board, Lego Mindstorms and Basic Stamp.
What about the PIC I have read about, can anyone tell me what would be a good choice.
THANKS! :smiley:


Looks like we need to update our help page (which hasn’t changed in a long time) to include our new Orangutan robot controller, which we believe is a compelling alternative to the Handy Board or Basic Stamp. The Stamps are probably the easiest to use, but they are also the most limited. None of these are really microcontrollers; rather, they are small systems based on various microcontrollers.

Orangutan is based on an Atmel AVR microcontroller, for which there is a free C compiler. AVR Programmers are cheap, too, so if you want to do your own electronics, you can be up and running for around $30.

Microchip’s PIC microcontrollers have more limited free compiler support, so you should look into the cost of a compiler if you really want C. The programmers also tend to be a bit more expensive than some AVR alternatives, but you can still get started for under $50. The $36 Pickit board might be a good starting point if you want to play with PICs, but C tends to get less practical as you get to the smallest microcontrollers.

There are many other microcontrollers out there, so just consider what features you are getting for what price. Most companies will have at least demo versions of the development software available, so you can try them out and see what you like.

- Jan


I just started learning C Programming with 8051.
I use P89V51RD2 from Philips.
And I program with SDCC - Gnu GPL (opensource) C Compiler (homepage).
It also supports Microchip PIC16 and PIC18 series.
Primary targets supported platform are Linux and Windows.

If you are interested in, please visit my homepage:


P.S. I have free source code for download.