AVR is a line of microcontrollers from Atmel. It's based on RISC principles and is small, cheap and fast. Some of the features:
  • You can use Steven Bolt's sp12 programmer which requires just a crystal and a few caps and resistors to build a stand alone programmer, or requires nothing more than connectors and a few series resistors for an in-circuit-programming version.
  • All parts are flash based, not just a select few like other microcontroller manufacturers.
  • A low end established flash based part is available with a UART.
  • Flash parts are available with PWM channels, A/D converters, 16 bit timers, SPI and analog comparators.
  • A starter kit is available for $49 USD that comes with an in-circuit programming dongle and a demo board.
  • The series includes devices with between 1KB and 128KB of flash program storage.
  • (My favourite feature) GNU Binutils, GCC and even GDB target the AVR line. It's a joy to have access to a macro assembler and high quality C compiler that is both free and Free. Many micros come with free assemblers but these are often buggy and lack features, and it's very rare to get a free C compiler.

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