After a good review of the available microcontrollers available on the market, I selected the H8/Tiny series from Renesas (formerly Hitachi). There are many reasons for the choice. Primarily, I wanted a 16 bit processor that was fairly easy to get hold of, had a good free C compiler, friendly architecture and appropriate peripherals and memory on-board. It also had to be reasonably inexpensive and easily programmed with a minimum of hardware. The H8/Tiny chips fit the bill for me and seemed ideal.
However, although there are the wonderfully complete GNU compiler tools and excellent support from at least one good on-line source, it turned out to be a bit of a nightmare to get going.
First, there are not many cheap development boards available in the UK. Several good ones are vavailable in Japan but I can't seem to work out how to buy from them - even if I could read Japanese, they seem not to have simple pay online and deliver systems. Secondly, there are so many different variants that I simply could not find good sources of simple example projects to give me a head start in writing my own code. Third, the aforementioned wondrous GNU compiler turned out to be pretty arcane when it came to many of the subtleties of writing for specific embedded hardware. I had been spoiled by the excellent and easy to use Codevision compiler I had been using for the AVR. Fourth, the most obvious development environment, Renesas' High Performance embedded Workshop (HEW) had a number of tricks to be learned before I could get anything done with it.
On these pages there are some suggestions for the selection and installation of suitable development tools and the building of simple projects on simple hardware. These pages also act as my own reference since I seem to be developing the memory capacity of a goldfish. Sadly, I cannot guarantee that what works for me will work for you. However, I dont think I have anything out of the ordinary so the chances are good.
Start by working through the menus at the top. Stop when you have had enough.