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erco
08-15-2011, 04:23 PM
http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1362&doc_id=232310&

An Arduino-based WAM clone is "clever" and stealing headlines!

Time to turn on the charm, Parallax marketing! I still say your WAM kit is awesome. But if it takes targeting 5-7 year-olds to bask in the spotlight, it might be time for a makeover of the material and packaging to get that idea across. Simplification is good, you'll pull in lots of Chip-o-Phobics along with the kiddies.

A "Science Fair" kit might be a good umbrella or place to start. And throw in some plastic accessories to get them started. A superball and a pinball flipper to attach to a servo. And a propeller. A real plastic bladed propeller that pushes air from a motor! And an IR remote. THAT's instant magic.

Sell the sizzle, not the steak! :)

rod1963
08-15-2011, 05:41 PM
Looks to be really neat and a great intro to controllers and electronics for kids. Sparkfun can't even keep it in stock.

Arduino is a perfect fit too since it was designed for non-techies and it's target audience as well.

erco
08-15-2011, 05:45 PM
Aaaarrrgggghhhh..............!

Oldbitcollector (Jeff)
08-15-2011, 05:55 PM
It's a cheap clone of this...
http://www.parallax.com/StoreSearchResults/tabid/768/List/0/SortField/4/ProductID/506/Default.aspx?txtSearch=PE+Kit

Parallax has had the concept for years..

What sells this isn't the kit itself its the "hype" and this..
http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/AIK/ARDX-EG-SPAR-WEB-REV10.pdf

I've been chasing this concept myself for a while now..
http://www.gadgetgangster.com/tutorials

OBC

Fxc2hh
08-15-2011, 06:08 PM
http://www.designnews.com/author.asp?section_id=1362

An Arduino-based WAM clone is "clever" and stealing headlines!

Time to turn on the charm, Parallax marketing! I still say your WAM kit is awesome. But if it takes targeting 5-7 year-olds to bask in the spotlight, it might be time for a makeover of the material and packaging to get that idea across. Simplification is good, you'll pull in lots of Chip-o-Phobics along with the kiddies.

A "Science Fair" kit might be a good umbrella or place to start. And throw in some plastic accessories to get them started. A superball and a pinball flipper to attach to a servo. And a propeller. A real plastic bladed propeller that pushes air from a motor! And an IR remote. THAT's instant magic.

Sell the sizzle, not the steak! :)

A two dollar PIC with BASIC (equivalent of a bootloader) is cheaper than Arduino.
People aren't learning coding with cut and paste code and they aren't learning wiring or soldering with a pre-made shield.

The only hard part is convincing people to buy a $60 Pikit 2 but spread among a handful of PICs, you don't have to spend the $60 for a programmer but you have to spend $30 every time you buy an Arduino.

I'm glad people have that kind of money to just buy whatever to save them wiring, prototyping and coding but the result is not learning to do everything yourself.

A ten dollar chip means buying a $50 prototyping board. Stick with what is cheap and you won't be losing money out of your pocket.

Roy Eltham
08-15-2011, 08:05 PM
I dunno if I would call it a cheap clone, OBC. It's got more interesting stuff in it like a servo, a motor, relay, and other interesting components, and it's the same price.
I, of course, like the PEK better, but I think it would compare better if it included the extras they included.

GordonMcComb
08-15-2011, 11:29 PM
Not much really new in the AIK, but then few things are truly new. Even the paper templates idea is decades old (but it's still a good idea nevertheless).

Clever is as clever does. Back in 2002 or so, Nathan Seidle started SparkFun, and I started Budget Robotics. We even had the same Web host and shopping cart software, and every once in a while we exchanged product ideas via email. An early offering of his was a "robot experimenter's kit" consisting of a long solderless breadboard, a couple of surplus motors, and assorted odds and ends. It was simple and easily definable, if far from novel.

Ideas are like viruses and children -- they'll keep growing in the right environment. I seem to remember hearing in a 2009 video that SparkFun was up to $15 or $20 million a year. Nate employs about 85 people, last time I heard, and the business keeps growing. I'm still BR's only employee, and my growth rate looks like a flat road on a flat desert on a very flat planet!

Now, who's the clever one here?!

To be fair to myself, I do other things for a living, and make robots (and write books about 'em) as a hobby. Still, you can't fault success. If the AIK is a knock-off, and I'm not sure it is, what counts is the combination of things they offer. The BOE-Bot wasn't the first robot kit to ever come out, and you can hardly consider that its design has a lot of Wow Factor. But I wouldn't be surprised if it outsold all the other educational robotics kits from other sources put together. It's the solid metal chassis, the overall design that's ideal for classroom use, the BS2, the BOE board, and especially it's the documentation.

We all know the PropBOE is coming out, and likely a PropBot, full robotics classroom curriculum, etc. I doubt there will be anything earth shattering in these that we haven't seen before, but I'm willing to bet it'll be clever.

-- Gordon

GordonMcComb
08-15-2011, 11:42 PM
People aren't learning coding with cut and paste code and they aren't learning wiring or soldering with a pre-made shield.

But is that a requirement? People learn what they want to learn. If they want to learn how to solder they'll get a kit that requires or teaches soldering. But if their aim is something else, having a pre-made module or shield sidesteps what might have been a barrier to entry. If the idea is to convert wannabes into customers, then it's important to provide a product that reaches out to their goals, rather than a product that defines their goals.

As an example, I'm not particularly keen to learn which registers do what in a microcontroller, in order to program the thing. It's just not in my sphere of interest. Yet not long ago you had to know this stuff if you wanted to program the typical PIC. (Early on Atmel fostered support for dealing with chip registers from within the compiler, and not surprisingly their product line made a lot of inroads because of it. The registers are still there, of course, and you can still directly manipulate them, if that's your aim.)

Yes, we'll probably see a lot of projects made by simply mashing together premade modules. Their creators won't fully know how it all works. But at least they got that far. Their foot is in the door, and if only 1-in-100 decides to continue their education and learn electronics and programming, it'll be one more that wouldn't have traveled that road in the first place.

-- Gordon

Fxc2hh
08-16-2011, 12:01 AM
But is that a requirement? People learn what they want to learn. If they want to learn how to solder they'll get a kit that requires or teaches soldering. But if their aim is something else, having a pre-made module or shield sidesteps what might have been a barrier to entry. If the idea is to convert wannabes into customers, then it's important to provide a product that reaches out to their goals, rather than a product that defines their goals.

As an example, I'm not particularly keen to learn which registers do what in a microcontroller, in order to program the thing. It's just not in my sphere of interest. Yet not long ago you had to know this stuff if you wanted to program the typical PIC. (Early on Atmel fostered support for dealing with chip registers from within the compiler, and not surprisingly their product line made a lot of inroads because of it. The registers are still there, of course, and you can still directly manipulate them, if that's your aim.)

I decided that I want to be a producer and not just a consumer.

The difference is if you know how to make it yourself, you will be either making and selling your product.

If you don't know how to make it yourself, you will always be buying someone else's PCB, kit or project.

If you have money, it won't be a problem. If you don't have money then it will be a problem.

I want some learning and not just a collection of products.

erco
08-16-2011, 12:31 AM
What sells this isn't the kit itself its the "hype" and this..
http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/AIK/ARDX-EG-SPAR-WEB-REV10.pdf

OBC

Agreed, but per Gordon, it's how you define success. Like it or not, these days, PR is king, and hyping the crowd mentality is a big part of that. Whether it's getting on HackaDay or Gizmodo or the blog de jour, that's what people are looking at. Personally, I hate the iPhone obsession, but these days, you better have an iPhone app for your product or you won't go too far.

There's nothing wrong with jumping on a good bandwagon, but it does require a lot of effort and considerable flexibility, something corporate America struggles with (along with anything "open source").

Fxc2hh
08-16-2011, 03:04 AM
Agreed, but per Gordon, it's how you define success. Like it or not, these days, PR is king, and hyping the crowd mentality is a big part of that. Whether it's getting on HackaDay or Gizmodo or the blog de jour, that's what people are looking at. Personally, I hate the iPhone obsession, but these days, you better have an iPhone app for your product or you won't go too far.

There's nothing wrong with jumping on a good bandwagon, but it does require a lot of effort and considerable flexibility, something corporate America struggles with (along with anything "open source").

I was in the Verizon store and a woman was trying to keep the salesman from selling a smartphone to her daughter by saying, "I never needed a smartphone." I don't want a smart phone because the wireless companies want to sell me a $30 data plan and I would buy a smartphone that did Wifi if it wasn't for the fact that I had to buy a data plan because the wireless companies don't want you sitting by a router and using it for free.

I think Open Source is where you offer your ideas and you don't get paid. Instead of the internet trolls stealing your ideas, the people who make the money are the board makers and companies that sell the project.

The iPhone may be good for remote control projects but it adds a layer of abstraction that I don't need to use microcontrollers and the iPhone only represents people who can throw money away towards your microcontroller project.

Kevin Wood
08-16-2011, 04:09 AM
>>> Parallax has had the concept for years..

I've been on these forums since about 2004/2005, and I'll say this... there has been very little change (if any...) to what's being offered in the BS2 line. IMO, it's in need of an overhaul. There's much that could be done to make the line a better value in both price and features.

The "What's a Microcotroller" kit, as good as it is, no longer has the competitive advantage that it had 5-10 years ago. Nor does the BS2 series. And Parallax, like all companies, needs to keep up with what the market is looking for, or lose market share. This is just basic business economics.

SRLM
08-16-2011, 10:03 AM
Personally, I'm attracted to those kits for new learners. I like that they 30 minutes or less, and I like the overlays. I don't care if they're a million years old, I just don't like looking over student's circuits and finding the same wiring mistake over and over again (although it's fun to be able to debug a circuit without looking at it).

And I don't think it doesn't matter if the people who use this kit are being "coddled" just because all they have to do is hook up the wires. If they pursue an engineering career they won't be scared for life by this kit (most won't, anyway). I remember growing up, playing in the safe comfort of my lego blocks that always fit together properly. It was nice.


We all know the PropBOE is coming out, and likely a PropBot, full robotics classroom curriculum, etc.

That's my vote for the top secret Parallax project: a PropBOE bot. The new school year is starting up soon...

Heater.
08-16-2011, 10:27 AM
Chuckz,


People aren't learning coding with cut and paste code and they aren't learning wiring or soldering with a pre-made shield.


True enough but consider this. At age 8 or 9 I was bought a Philips Electronic Engineer Kit. Basically a collection or resistors, caps, transistors, buttons. Also a speaker, a pot or two, a ferrite antenna rod etc . All these parts could be used to assemble simple circuits, an organ, a MW radio, a light detector etc etc. All you had to do was poke spring clips into a board as indicated by a cardboard overlays with circuits layouts on them, then use the spring clips to hold the components in place as per the layout. Easy to make things, easy to take them down for the next experiment. There was a nice book with all circuit diagrams and explanations.

You could call that "cut and paste" in hardware for the day. And for sure no soldering. But it was a damn good intro to electronics for a kid who knows almost nothing and a lot easier going and more flexible than soldering things up. At least after that you know that there is such a thing as electronics. Those who were sufficiently inspired were soon wanting to get into obtaining their own parts and soldering up permanent creations.

Gadgetman
08-16-2011, 10:36 AM
No soldering in the Philips EE kits?

And how do you think I learned to solder?
(Replacing the transistors because I tended to blow them up... )

And frankly, the springs annoyed the H! out of me.
A proper experimenter board would have been nicer.
(Back then I did manage to 'create' a few circuits, but to actually transfer them to the EE system was just about impossible)

Tor
08-16-2011, 11:19 AM
Well, I'm happy that I didn't start sniffing lead smoke at that early age anyway.. it's bad enough with all that happened later during the educational years. Now that I'm back into soldering I'm really glad there's this air-sucking flexible tube right over the soldering area in the electronics lab here at $work. The first evening I used it I wasn't really aware of it and didn't adjust the tube properly, so the soldering smoke got into my face and nose. I got sick. To me it felt like some kind of reaction to all that time of soldering in the past.
Now that I use the equipment properly there's no solder smoke and no ill health effects.

-Tor

Heater.
08-16-2011, 11:52 AM
No, no soldering on EE kits.
Not sure how your transistors were supplied but mine just had the normal bare wires that you poked into the spring clips. The wires snapped off the transistors before I managed to blow them up. Hence the need to find a source of components and start to learn soldering and "proper" construction.

Gadgetman
08-16-2011, 12:21 PM
On my kit the transistors were soldered onto little square PCBs, with small holes in the corners for the springs to poke through.
(The wires connecting the transistor to the rest of the circuit then locked the pcb in place)

GordonMcComb
08-16-2011, 05:51 PM
Well, I'm happy that I didn't start sniffing lead smoke at that early age anyway.

There's virtually no lead in the smoke from soldering -- lead is way too heavy to go airborne. It's the rosin flux, and it's from trees after all, so it must be good for you! :-)

Seriously, some people are more susceptible to rosin fumes, just as some people get sick smelling the creosote in wood burning fireplaces. These don't bother me, but organic solvents like naphtha will make me seriously ill for days.

-- Gordon

Maddie the Intern
08-16-2011, 06:00 PM
Hi everyone!
Sorry, I just saw this thread today (I know, I know, getting my wisdom teeth out is no excuse! Back to work!).


Simplification is good

I like this, erco. I've done a TON of research (more than I care to think about!) and there is definitely a market out there that is into simplifying for marketing!

A great example is this Ritz cracker box:
http://barkinghand.files.wordpress.com/2011/01/ritz-back-side-panel-lr1.jpg

Simple shapes and colors- caught my attention!
We're always looking at all different ways to market- thanks for the heads up about Sparkfun's Inventor's Kit!

-MaddieTheIntern

GordonMcComb
08-16-2011, 06:00 PM
the BS2 line ... in need of an overhaul

Agreed. A BS3, with true analog inputs, more RAM, faster processor, etc. would kick some serious rump. It would only work, however, if it's a drop-in replacement for the BS2. So that means a 5V chip (or 3.3V that's fully 5V tolerant), support for PBasic2.5, and so on. Otherwise it won't get adopted as a replacement in the existing BS2 applications, such as the Boe-bot, which is heavily used in schools.

IMO such a product would not take away from Propeller sales, and in fact would complement the product line.

-- Gordon

Roy Eltham
08-16-2011, 06:24 PM
Gordon,
How can it be a drop in replacement and also have analog inputs? I don't think a BS3 is the right answer for now or the future. Personally I really like the PropBOE solution, especially when (in the future) it can be coded for with GCC, along with spin/pasm, propbasic, and so on.

erco
08-16-2011, 06:57 PM
Gordon,
How can it be a drop in replacement and also have analog inputs?

Check out the brand new PicAxe 20M2. 16 IOs, including direct ADC inputs, touch sensors, DAC, 1.8V operation, multitasking. $4. Ouch.

A BS3 was needed yesterday.

GordonMcComb
08-16-2011, 07:13 PM
How can it be a drop in replacement and also have analog inputs?

They're only analog inputs when the multiplexer is activated. Otherwise they're regular digital I/O. Same play as the Arduino.

In a perfect world we'd have both a BS3, to keep that updated, and the Prop line. There's room for both, because (even though there is cross over) they're attractive to different segments of the market.

-- Gordon

GordonMcComb
08-16-2011, 07:28 PM
Check out the brand new PicAxe 20M2. 16 IOs, including direct ADC inputs, touch sensors, DAC, 1.8V operation, multitasking. $4. Ouch.

They've done an impressive job with the new M2 line. There are some under-the-hood limitations of these new chips, and you encounter them -- like you do with anything -- when you sit down and do hands-on development. For instance you can't select a higher clock when you use multi-tasking. I needed to support a higher serial baud rate (damn MIDI and its 31250 bps speed), but then couldn't also use multiple tasking.

Of course the Prop handles this without skipping a beat, but that's not the point. The fact that these M2 chips do what they do, starting at $3 (for the 08M2) is the kicker.

To addend my comment to Roy, the Arduino Pro Mini is a "drop in" replacement for the BS2. They don't push the fact -- quite the opposite, really -- but the pinouts are the same. You can't use a BOE to program it (inverted serial), but as the Pro Mini already has USB you can bypass the circuitry on the board and go straight to the Arduino. For <$20 it's not bad.

Ah, how the world turns.

-- Gordon

GordonMcComb
08-16-2011, 07:30 PM
I really like the PropBOE solution

Just as a BTW, me too. I think it'll be Parallax's next killer product.

-- Gordon

davejames
08-16-2011, 07:32 PM
agreed. A bs3, with true analog inputs, more ram, faster processor, etc. Would kick some serious rump. It would only work, however, if it's a drop-in replacement for the bs2. So that means a 5v chip (or 3.3v that's fully 5v tolerant), support for pbasic2.5, and so on. Otherwise it won't get adopted as a replacement in the existing bs2 applications, such as the boe-bot, which is heavily used in schools.

Imo such a product would not take away from propeller sales, and in fact would complement the product line.

-- gordon

Bee-Ess-Three! Bee-Ess-Three!! Bee-Ess-Three!!!

erco
08-16-2011, 08:24 PM
Bee-Ess-Three! Bee-Ess-Three!! Bee-Ess-Three!!!

Allow me to translate for my good friend davejames: BS3! BS3! BS3!

Microcontrolled
08-16-2011, 08:55 PM
You all know that I love Parallax, but really, the BS2 is the beginner product here. Parallax seems to be pushing the Propeller a lot and for good reason, but it is by no means a beginner product. As stated, a BS3 would be the key to even up the score between the Arduino and Parallax in the education market. Several years ago Parallax was the leader, and it needs to regain that. A BS3 with a Propeller chip running a BASIC interpreter would be awesome. You could introduce a new type of BASIC with different capabilities utilizing the powers of the Propeller. Not just PropBASIC on a SPINstamp, but really something unique.

However, I doubt that this will happen. Parallax is going more professional, and has been ever since the launch of the Propeller. The starting of Parallax Semiconductor confirms this. It will only be a matter of 5 years before they drop the BS2 completely.

Kevin Wood
08-16-2011, 09:14 PM
In a perfect world we'd have both a BS3, to keep that updated, and the Prop line. There's room for both, because (even though there is cross over) they're attractive to different segments of the market.

Considering that it was the Basic Stamp that effectively put Parallax "on the map", it makes no sense to neglect continued development in the product line. The Propeller is good and all, but I can't imagine that it has the sales figures that the BS1/2 have. As mentioned, it serves a different market than more traditional microcontrollers.

GordonMcComb
08-16-2011, 09:53 PM
but as the Pro Mini already has USB

What am I saying? It doesn't. You have to use a USB dongle.

I've been looking at too many boards recently. After a while they all spin together in the windmills of the mind. Or something like that.

-- Gordon

erco
08-17-2011, 12:44 AM
@Gordon, Oh, what sad times are these if we can't collectively cut you some slack for momentarily getting your many boards mixed up. Thanks for your valuable input here on this delicate but important subject.

Ni !

davejames
08-17-2011, 12:57 AM
It will only be a matter of 5 years before they drop the BS2 completely.

DUDE! Site your source!!! :surprise:

davejames
08-17-2011, 12:59 AM
Allow me to translate for my good friend davejames: BS3! BS3! BS3!

Thanks man. Sometimes it takes a more respectable Forum member to get my message across.

Microcontrolled
08-17-2011, 01:59 AM
@davejames: Scratch that previous comment, according to Ken (he stated this in the SX EOL thread) they will continue making the BS2 for at least 15 more years.

rod1963
08-17-2011, 02:20 AM
They have a BS3, it's called the SpinStamp

It just hasn't taken off like the BS2. Then again this market segment is competitive with all the BS2 alternatives out there, so people have choices today unlike say a decade ago.

erco
08-17-2011, 02:54 AM
from http://www.parallax.com/StoreSearchResults/tabid/768/List/0/SortField/4/ProductID/448/Default.aspx?txtSearch=spin+stamp

Note: The Spin Stamp module is not intended to be a direct drop-in replacement for any BASIC Stamp module and there are some important points to consider before purchasing the Spin Stamp:

A Prop Clip is REQUIRED to program the Spin Stamp. It is plugged into the four-hole connector on the bottom edge of the Spin Stamp with the badge facing up.
The Spin Stamp can be programmed in Propeller Assembly or Spin, a high-level language (The Spin Stamp cannot be programmed in PBASIC)
The Spin Stamp module’s I/O voltage is 3.3V compared with the BASIC Stamp module’s 5V I/O. Applying 5V directly to a Spin Stamp I/O pin will damage the Spin Stamp. Existing projects may require adjustments in software and circuitry to prevent damage to the Spin Stamp. Any input pins that are subject to 5V must have, at least, a 1 kΩ or larger resistor that is series-connected

Ken Gracey
08-17-2011, 03:41 AM
It will only be a matter of 5 years before they drop the BS2 completely.

Huh? Why would a business do that? We just built 6,000 BS2-IC modules today. This product is still steady and increasing in volume as a result of educational use. It's a very important product for Parallax, our customers, and will be around until there is no demand.

Ken Gracey

rod1963
08-17-2011, 03:43 AM
I'm aware of the voltage differential and all the other details. It's the closet that anyone will see of a BS3 from Parallax IMO.

But I doubt you're ever gonna a get a direct replacement for the BS2 from Parallax that doesn't use external components to interface with 5V I/O or boards that use TTL . There aren't any newer uc's out there that don't use external components to interface to TTL.

Also in a post in the SX EOL thread Parallax has stated that they will only use micros developed by them from now on. That means the P1 and P2(when it comes out) for future stamps.

Ken Gracey
08-17-2011, 03:46 AM
@davejames: Scratch that previous comment, according to Ken (he stated this in the SX EOL thread) they will continue making the BS2 for at least 15 more years.

BS2-IC uses the PIC16C57 - one of Microchip's leading 8-bitters. I don't imagine Microchip would EOL this part.

The BS2SX-IC uses the SX, and we have stored a product life cycle's worth of inventory of that processor - at least 15 years worth. We're about two years into that statement I made, and I should let you know that we still have plenty of processors to meet the initial supply projections.

Microcontrolled, come on over for an internship! We need to match your programming and engineering skills with an equal amount of some business acumen. All of our engineers have to acquire some of this to be effective.

Ken Gracey

Kevin Wood
08-17-2011, 03:59 AM
Also in a post in the SX EOL thread Parallax has stated that they will only use micros developed by them from now on. That means the P1 and P2(when it comes out) for future stamps.

There's no reason that they couldn't design a single core chip based on Propeller technology, although not necessarily a direct implementation of a Propeller cog - ie, the built-in "features" of a cog, but with a more traditional architecture.

Whether it would be cost effective, I don't know. But it would definitely be interesting.

Matt Gilliland
08-17-2011, 04:05 AM
We just built 6,000 BS2-IC modules today

A year and half ago - when I first started routinely coming to this hallowed place ;), I was *blown away* by the stacks and stacks and stacks of BS2 panels - each panel containing 50 modules.

Yes, today I was *blown away* again...

I sense the coming of a few pics early tomorrow to this thread :-)

-Matt

Oldbitcollector (Jeff)
08-17-2011, 04:14 AM
http://www.savagecircuits.com/forums/images/smilies/generic/focus.gif

I took the time to read through the project book that comes with this kit...

The concept of creating fun projects which can be duplicated easily is a great way to introduce newcomers to electronics/microcontrollers. (A bunch of us started with those Radio Shack 101 kits -- Same concept.)

However, the project guides themselves are a little hard to follow. Larger diagrams and hookup-to-hookup directions would have helped. I DO like the idea of a paper guide which fits over the breadboard.

OBC

GordonMcComb
08-17-2011, 04:15 AM
This product is still steady

I have to admit that several of the commercial projects I did for Technicolor a few years back used a BS2. I even used it for a fairly mission critical application, involving some of Hollywood's biggest stars. Of course, none appreciated the little microcontroller at the heart of the thing that helped them turn out such wonderful performances. (Well, maybe Charlie Sheen did.)

Frankly, Ken, I don't think you could kill that little chip even if you wanted to. It's taken on a life of its own, and now transcends us all.

-- Gordon

davejames
08-17-2011, 04:16 AM
I'm aware of the voltage differential and all the other details. It's the closet that anyone will see of a BS3 from Parallax IMO.

Rod - the issue (IMHO) is that the Propeller ain't got no analog capability. I've observed it from afar, and the parallel nature of the internals is impressive...but it doesn't fit any need I currently have.

An analog update to the venerable BS2 would be wonderful...and it'd kick some serious Ard/Atom/whatever a**.

Mike Green
08-17-2011, 05:55 AM
What do you mean that the Propeller doesn't have analog capability? It can do multiple ADCs using the cog counters and can generate fairly high quality audio, all with only a couple of passive components. EFX-TEK's WAV player (http://www.efx-tek.com/topics/ap-8.html) shows one example of high quality stereo audio output using the cog counters and a simple RC filter.

Ken Gracey
08-17-2011, 01:46 PM
Rod - the issue (IMHO) is that the Propeller ain't got no analog capability.

Please take a look at http://www.parallaxsemiconductor.com/an008. I think you might have preference for a hardware ADC, built-in, but I'm not sure. If you want to try this one the QuickStart has a few pads for the R and Cs.

Ken Gracey

Maddie the Intern
08-17-2011, 03:51 PM
Hey Everyone!

Here's a quick peek into the production of BS2's!


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-OIF1ikY5E

(Per MattG's request)

-MaddieTheIntern

erco
08-17-2011, 03:54 PM
Man, am I glad I poked... no, KICKED this hornets' nest.

Can you feel the passion here? We all love the BS2, we all love the Prop, it's just that there's a huge gap (and learning curve and 20 years of technology) between the two. I hate to see Johnny-come-lately's jumping in to fill that gap and steal the low-hanging fruit in that valley.

davejames
08-17-2011, 04:09 PM
Please take a look at http://www.parallaxsemiconductor.com/an008. I think you might have preference for a hardware ADC, built-in, but I'm not sure.


What do you mean that the Propeller doesn't have analog capability? It can do multiple ADCs using the cog counters...


Well...look.at.that.

Gentelmen - I sit corrected. I would have never known from the surface level that A/D, D/A capability could be constructed using the Propeller. My appologies.

Yes, I have a preference for built in converters and not having to concern myself with writing code to do the conversion.

RIP, BS3.

davejames
08-17-2011, 07:47 PM
I think there's a "learning moment" here, and I'll relate it via a work-oriented story.

I work for an automated test company. We manufacture equipment that IC makers (National, Intel, ST, etc.) would use to verify that their parts meet spec. One of the test systems has had a long, and profitable life meeting the needs of hundreds of customers with an installed base of over 3,000 systems. From inception, the test system could be programmed to perform multi-site testing (more than one part at a time), but it was messy in terms of code. So for over 10 years, the industry thought "it can't do multi-site". There were efforts made within the company to create a packaged solution to make it easier for the customer to perform multi-site testing. We even made the package relatively cheap and included free training on how to install and use the software. But 4 years later, few of the packages sold and the customer base still had the impression the test system could only do single-site testing.

No amount of internal company buzz, or application notes persuaded the customer into thinking better of the test system's multi-ste abilities. There was nothing on the surface level of documentation that anyone would see in a cursory glance hinting at things multi-site.

It took a completely new software revision, fully marketed, and fully discussed to wake up the customer base in that this little test system could test more than one device at a time.

All that to say this...

When I looked at the Propeller information provided on the company website (store, downloads, description), I never saw any hint of analog capabilites. The internal diagram with its depiction of the cogs showed no A/D, D/A blocks. The store's general description of pins, supplys, clocks never mentioned analog capability. A curosry (and I mean cursory) glance through the Spin language documentation did not reveal anything analog (save for possibly video generation).

So, in the end, for the last couple years I've believed that the Propeller has had no analog capability; no matter of what other people were doing. I just figured they were using out-board converters.

Today I discover that it does....via an application note, and counters, and code...but, it exists.

OK Dave, what's the learning moment here?

1 - I should have probably asked and not just believed what wasn't apprarent (don't see it, must not exist).

2 - This recently found information should have been up front where it would have been noticed at the get go.

Ken Gracey
08-17-2011, 10:02 PM
2 - This recently found information should have been up front where it would have been noticed at the get go.

You bet. We have much work to do in this regard - presenting a product correctly is part marketing study and part art, and we don't always have the correct combination. If I can get off this quadcopter kick and get back to work we can review our marketing approach.

Ken Gracey

erco
08-17-2011, 10:09 PM
@dj: I just saw this http://www.gadgetgangster.com/tutorials/382 based on an early comment #4 by OBC here. It's nice to have access to all this info and collective brainpower in the forums. And certainly a lot of work to try to keep up, too! I haven't made the jump to the Propeller yet. Just dabbling, myself. So much potential, so little time.

I'm constantly humbled by the technical knowledge and achievements of Forumistas far smarter than I. Keeps me honest and inspired, that's a good thing!

Martin Hodge
08-17-2011, 10:25 PM
In the video... That Microscope... MUST HAVE!!!

davejames
08-17-2011, 10:32 PM
You bet. We have much work to do in this regard - presenting a product correctly is part marketing study and part art, and we don't always have the correct combination. If I can get off this quadcopter kick and get back to work we can review our marketing approach.

Ken Gracey

Please know that my "mini-rant", if you will, was meant to be constructive.

GordonMcComb
08-17-2011, 10:44 PM
for the last couple years I've believed that the Propeller has had no analog capability. No matter of what other people were doing; I just figured they were using out-board converters.

Today I discover that it does....via an application note, and counters, and code...but, it exists.

It comes down to design philosophy, whether to perform hardware functions in software, or build hardware-specific functions as part of the core. There's rationale for both, but in the end, market drivers determine what each user group wants.

Over the last several years the "de facto" standard among microcontrollers is to perform ADC in hardware. It's how most Atmel and PIC chips work, and it's now what the market expects. Engineers specifically look for the ADC specs in the data sheet, along with things like pin count and maximum processor speed. You can build ADC functions outboard to any controller, but remember that it takes n-number of extra components that the hardware-based solutions don't need.

For industrial and commercial applications, engineers might not even want to use a build-in ADC. They tend to be noisy, limited, and slow (the ADCs, and maybe the engineers, but that's another thread). So if they need something else they're going to add external circuitry to get what they want anyway. No problems there.

But groups like students and home DIY builders don't want to bother with three or four extra external components -- not to mention an extra object or code or whatever to deal with it in software. They want and expect to plug things straight in. The BS1 and BS2 has long shown how to achieve ADC using an RC network, and that was fine before the days of products like the Arduino. Nothing lives in a vacuum, though, and in recent years other MCU solutions have redefined the desirability of hardware-based ADC, especially for first-time users.

From a teaching perspective (the books and articles I do), I have to spend a couple extra paragraphs, and a more elaborate illustration, to show outboard ADC circuitry. I don't like doing it. The extra discussion takes away from being able to talk about other things, or just makes the whole subject appear more complicated to first time learners.

I have no problem with the Propeller not having an internal hardware ADC similar to AVR or PIC. And that's been how the BS2 has been from the beginning. But we're really talking apples to oranges here. And in returning to the original topic, for a basic "clever" kit of parts for teaching microcontrollers with the Arduino, it's a pertinent distinction.

-- Gordon

davejames
08-17-2011, 10:46 PM
I'm constantly humbled by the technical knowledge and achievements of Forumistas far smarter than I.


...could not agree with you more. Many times I have left the Forums vastly impressed with what people have done.

Matt Gilliland
08-18-2011, 01:30 PM
humbled by the technical knowledge and achievements of Forumistas

Completely agree. However, I'll add the following twist to a speech made by JFK about "talent" at a state dinner with Nobel Prize winners, Statesmen, etc.,

"Never before has so much talent been assembled in one place (these Forums), except when Chip Gracey dines alone".

...yet combined with humble spirit and good character. Certainly a rare mix.

-Matt

Mike Green
08-18-2011, 03:31 PM
Regarding message #51: I know this has been discussed briefly before, but the whole notion of constructing "peripheral blocks" in software is not featured prominently enough in descriptions of the Propeller. Even though this same design philosophy is used with the PICs and the AVRs, etc., it's used mostly with the smaller simpler devices as a fall-back when the peripheral blocks are not available. With the Propeller, it's fundamental to the device. When someone looks at the Propeller's datasheet, there are indeed no UARTs, no ADCs, no DACs, no PWM generators, etc. There's a video generator and two counters. Perhaps there should be another paragraph in the introduction in the datasheet that says something like:

One of the uses of the cogs is the implemention of peripherals like UARTs, sigma-delta ADCs, motor controllers, video drivers, keyboard & mouse drivers. The Propeller Tool (software development suite) includes a variety of peripherals as Spin/Assembly source objects and the Application Note library (link here) discusses several of these in detail.

davejames
08-18-2011, 03:58 PM
Well said Mr. Green...well said.

That was my whole point.

GordonMcComb
08-18-2011, 04:31 PM
Perhaps there should be another paragraph in the introduction in the datasheet that says something like:...
<snipped>

I'd do this, but with pictures. People have to get the idea in five seconds or less. I'd also redo OBEX so that the top tier of these objects is in a simple-to-find list. People have to know what to look for in order to find what they want. It takes a while to understand that with the Propeller most everything is done in software.

Not saying the Arduino guys have everything right, but look how this page is done:

http://arduino.cc/en/Reference/Libraries

They list the libraries that come with the IDE, and then a handful of the most commonly used contributed libraries. The number and scope of libraries is far larger than this, but the single page of a Top Ten de-complicates the concept.

Or to put this in sports terms, when the other team is scoring points against you, a good way to win is to analyze how they're playing the game.

-- Gordon

Kevin Wood
08-18-2011, 07:55 PM
p { margin-bottom: 0.08in; }
Regarding message #51: I know this has been discussed briefly before, but the whole notion of constructing "peripheral blocks" in software is not featured prominently enough in descriptions of the Propeller.

An App Note is definitely needed for this subject. Another possibility would be to offer pre-configured binary images (+ source) that would allow somebody to just load it and go. They could pick the image based on the peripherals already configured. This would give them easy access, the source would be available if needed / wanted, and would remove the necessity of having to configure everything all the time.

Regarding the Obex... it's a mess. This is fine for the "community", but it's not fine for "non-community" developers. My suggestion is to create an accessible git repo under the Parallax Semiconductor umbrella that would be filled with gold standard objects. Parallax would be the only committer to this repo, but anybody could clone it at will to have their own local repo.

Parallax could solicit help from the community to pick a list of Obex objects for review / inclusion in the repo, and then bring them up to the gold standard. This should help new developers by giving them solid blocks for building their applications, without needing to wade through the Obex.

Maddie the Intern
08-18-2011, 09:13 PM
Hey everyone!

Here's a further look into the production of the BASIC Stamp 2 :)


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o5Vc4NVo7lY



-MaddieTheIntern

erco
08-18-2011, 10:42 PM
A WET saw?

Who knew?

erco
08-18-2011, 10:59 PM
Shouldn't a STAMP be perforated and simply snapped along its edges, like PCB in the the attached photo? :)

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Wireless-Bluetooth-RS232-TTL-Transceiver-Module-/180712359122?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item2a134bc4d2

Matt Gilliland
08-19-2011, 12:57 AM
A WET saw?
Yessir. No airborne fiberglass particulates...ever.
-Matt

GordonMcComb
08-19-2011, 01:03 AM
Yessir. No airborne fiberglass particulates...ever.

So, does this mean you have to make the BS2's 20% larger, so they're the right size when they come out of the wash?

Anyway, this is one of those "of course this is how they do it" moments.

Tor
08-19-2011, 10:46 AM
[obex mess]My suggestion is to create an accessible git repo under the Parallax Semiconductor umbrella that would be filled with gold standard objects. Parallax would be the only committer to this repo, but anybody could clone it at will to have their own local repo. +1.
Of all the stuff I'm working with here and there the by far easiest and nicest ones are where you can clone a git repo.

-Tor

Humanoido
08-19-2011, 11:10 AM
They even support mac in their tutorial.
I would like to see Parallax PEK remain superior with Mac support.

Also we know a "What's a Prop" manual is in the works and we're excited
about that too. It's going to be a great companion to the already
superior PEK.

http://www.sparkfun.com/tutorial/AIK/ARDX-EG-SPAR-WEB-REV10.pdf
Nice artistic layout however impossible to see the component positioning on page 12 etc.
I tried enlarging the PDF file but it was still blurry.. The drawn schematics, text
and links are all very clear and working well. Photos and related pictorials need higher res.

TonyWaite
08-19-2011, 12:09 PM
Call me a Spoilsport, but coming from a 'Production Engineering' background in the UK, we'd *never* let those soft, fleshy fingers be used as a clamping/guiding mechanism so close to a sawblade ...
T o n y

Maddie the Intern
08-25-2011, 08:34 PM
Soldering the BS2 Legs:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCVOqeN_i5Q

Mark_T
08-26-2011, 11:22 AM
On my kit the transistors were soldered onto little square PCBs, with small holes in the corners for the springs to poke through.
(The wires connecting the transistor to the rest of the circuit then locked the pcb in place)

Waves of nostalgia - yes I had the same or similar kit, can visualise those transistor break-out boards now you remind me! And I'm remembering
some large brown capacitors and a bulb holder with red filter that plugged over the bulb. And a CdS LDR...