I'm currently learning MCUs with TMS570, but I'm also looking for some cheap mcu for general projects. Can you advice me on choosing something:

1) Cheap

2) Easy to buy in CIS (Russia and Ukraine, so, I guess, worldwide shipping)

3) Availability of entry-level tutorials

4) Not AVR (I already have experience with it and I want to learn something new)

Thank you for your advice, and don't hesitate to tell me what I'm wrong about :)


I don't know how to tell what is inexpensive for you. There are lots of options for microcontrollers, for examples this list on Wikipedia. There are options from TI there if you wanted to stick with that, something like the MSP432 might work for you. Otherwise STM32 are ARM Cortex and are inexpensive from China and I assume you can get them easily enough. Also the ESP8266 or ESP32 boards are getting popular. Both STM32 and ESP8266/ESP32 have a lot of tutorials.


I would personally go for ESP32. With WiFi & BT for US $4 to 5. Here is one for less than $3, including P & P.

If you can afford $30, then you can get 2 @ ESP32 LoRo boards, where LoRa means Long Range and is about 15km, line of sight. That is just the first pair I found; I am sure that I bought a pair more cheaply. Those may cost more because then have a display.

For $15 or less, you can get an ESP32 with camera. Some with Passive InfraRed detector, to knwo when a person stands in front of them (body heat, many not be 100% accurate). Some with microphone & speaker, $20 with housing.

With that, you can make a great project, to replace the Ring doorbell. When someone rings your doorbell, you can view the camera, even video-conference, with your smartphone. This is on my list of projects to do, but I am a software guy, and you don't say if you prefer soft or hard-ware projects.

Since I am not a hardware guy, I love the Seeed Grove system with about 300 sensors and motors, etc From about $2 to $20, which are Plug & Play - no soldering required.

If you like that idea, look at M5Stack, which can be bought on their site, or from Ali Express.

They also have a wrist strap, for wrist-mounted projects

I bought a Grove Connector GPS module for $15, which can be used for many projects. Just add imagination.

I would not get ESP826, as the ESP32 replaces it, unless you have a special requirement, or don't need the WiFi / BT connectivity.

The only drawback is, like many MCUs, debugging is only by printing to the serial port. I could only find one ESP32 dev board with on board debugger, the ESP-WROVER-KIT-VB . It costs $45v (ouch!), but has that on-board debugger, to allow you to set breakpoints and examine the call stack & variables, which is a must for me as a professional software developer.

For an IDE, use PlatformIO with Visual Studio Code.

Costly, but it has a large display. Take a look at it playing Doom and tell me that you aren't impressed ;-) The code is on GitHub enter image description here

I have already written more than I planned to, so please give us a budget and tell us what you want to do, especially if it is more soft or hard-ware based.

If you value a debugger, the ST Micro boards are good. They are perhaps more "professional" than hobbyist, so slightly more expensive. The STM32WB has BT & WiFi.

Also, the BBC Micro:Bit is about $10, with BT, but no WiFi and on-board debugger (I have a shield that accepts Grove Connectors).

And that's before we get started with AdaFruit !!

I will stop here in case you update your question ;-)

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