Another New Chip, BBC Micro:Bit Go

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  • The Doctor's companions were there to be: ogled, be told key facts in a patronising way and to wander off into various forms of peril (to be gallantly saved at a later time). Some were also incredibly intelligent [aliens].

    With leather-clad Leela and the pneumatically impressive Perry, most Dads didn't mind watching Doctor Who with their children.

    Who mentioned Emma Peel? I think I've just had a funny turn..!

    South Saxons - "we wunt be druv".
  • I got the idea that back in the early days of Dr Who next weeks episode was not even written and or recorded when you were watching the current one.

    As for "previous" and "next" segments I recently found that I can't watch any kind of TV documentary now a days. They can't just tell you the story, explain the history or idea. Oh no, they have to repeat things a dozen times in quick succession. Infuriating.


  • ercoerco Posts: 19,584
    edited 2017-07-18 - 17:24:47
    I'm just happy to live in a day and age when, if a woman can't be president, at least she can be Dr. Who! :)

    Now will the Daleks also be showing their feminine side?

    Edit: I just bought my first Dalek for my collection. $8 wind-up, only 3 left now! http://www.ebay.com/itm/142437816401

    "When you make a thing, a thing that is new, it is so complicated making it that it is bound to be ugly. But those that make it after you, they don’t have to worry about making it. And they can make it pretty, and so everybody can like it when others make it after you."

    - Pablo Picasso
  • Heater. wrote: »
    I can't watch any kind of TV documentary now a days. They can't just tell you the story, explain the history or idea. Oh no, they have to repeat things a dozen times in quick succession. Infuriating.

    NOVA (produced by WGBH, a PBS station in Boston) is among the worst. They've forgotten how to form sentences, let alone present a cohesive story about their subject. A few are passable, but the bulk are just dreadful, with the repetition among the more pleasurable things they do.

    As the Brits would say, crikey!

  • Worse that the repetition perhaps is the over the top dramatic music, sound effects and CGI that accompanies any documentary about cosmology, physics etc. I'm mean Jees, this stuff is incredible enough without all that distracting and annoying junk.
  • I finally had some time to sit down and play with four micro:bits and two Parallax SumoBots. There may be some areas for improvement, but I was able to battle my younger daughter. I was not doing that well because the rubber bands on my SumoBot were missing and I couldn't get decent traction. I'll have to retread it and battle again. Anyways it was pretty easy to throw together.

    Shared project - https://makecode.microbit.org/_AVqEmkJoXKbp
    I recommend pressing the Edit button after opening that link. Everything works better - especially the simulator.
    (I attached the generated javascript as well.)

    Here are some notes from the comment in the project.
    Demo Remote Control of Parallax SumoBot example
    1 August 2017

    All of the transmit/receive code is in one project to demonstrate the power of the simulator. After setting up the transmitter, the simulated receiver will appear and can be setup. (Ignore the servos on the simulated transmitter)

    Setup
    Basic Stamp is held in reset (output of reset button wired to VSS - leg is the one closet to the .com in www.parallax.com)
    Micro:bit is soldered to single row standard header and inserted into the SumoBot's breadboard
    Power to Micro:bit is generated from VDD supply (I used LP2950-3.3)

    P0 is connected to the right servo on P12
    P1 is connected to the left servo on P13

    Operation
    After micro:bit boot

    Pressing B toggles between transmit and receive mode (flashing T or R)
    Pressing A advances to channel selection mode
    Pressing B increments channel number (allows simultaneous operation of multiple transmitter/receiver pairs)
    Pressing A commences operation (solid T or R indicates operating mode)
    Tilt the micro:bit transmitter to operate the remote SumoBot. Hopefully the controls are intuitive.
    Pressing B on transmitter stops operation. Press B again to resume.
    Receiver will timeout and stop if it doesn't receive a packet at least once a second
    Use the reset button to reconfigure the device
  • Going to try the micro:bit. Very low cost and lots of features for the money. My two new Homework boards are useless and defective so I am looking elsewhere for controller ideas. Thanks for your post.

    Mekkatronix@yahoo.com
  • Just received my first micro:bit and it is really a nice system. Takes a little time to familiarize oneself with the board and programming interface, but my 7th grade son is really excited by it. He first tried the graphical programming method, similar to Blockly and others, and then (against my advice) tried his hand at the JavaScript counterpart to the graphical code (the online system allows one to easily move between the two at any given time). This has turned out to be a wonderful $20 purchase. And it interfaces nicely with my laptop. An available poorly rated phone app is proving to be very useful to us as we play with Bluetooth programming. So far I am impressed. Fully recommend it.

    Mekkatronix@yahoo.com
  • George,

    Why would you advise your son against trying his hand at Javascript? He's what, 12 or 13 years old and starting programming in a real language. I'd say that was a great thing, to be encouraged. That would be like parents in the 1980's advising their kids not to try assembler language on their C64's after they discovered how useless BASIC is.

    Javascript is a rather sophisticated language in many ways. Far more so than, say, C. Since the beginning it has supported high level concepts that languages like C++ and Java have only recently started to support. With it's event driven programming model it's ideally suited to juggling multiple inputs, buttons, bluetooth and such in embedded systems. Or any systems for that matter.

    I know almost nothing about the micro:bit but I now find there seems to be 3 Javascript systems for it:

    The Microsoft one:
    https://makecode.microbit.org/#

    The Code Kingdoms one:
    https://www.microbit.co.uk/create-code

    The Espruino one.
    http://www.espruino.com/MicroBit

    Which one is he using?

    If he is using the original and best, Espruino, then he is only one step away from incorporating C into his programs if performance ever becomes an issue for him. And when he outgrows the little micro:bit he can transfer his JS skills to the much more powerful Espruino boards http://www.espruino.com/Order. Or other boards, I run Espruino on an STM32F4 Discovery board : http://www.st.com/en/evaluation-tools/stm32f4discovery.html

    Or he can size up to Javascript under node.js on Raspberry Pi and get into the world of Linux.

    At least it's not Python :)





  • msrobots wrote: »
    @Gordon,

    I guess Kids today neither know Dr Who, what a Dalek was or what Black Adder does. Even I don't now what countdown represents, but Top Gear, really?

    maybe I am wrong, but 25+ years ago wont fit with kids today.

    Enjoy!

    Mike

    Um no. I keep running into a few young people who do know Who he is. (Or was, the next person is a lady.) And my almost favorite site, https://hackaday.com certainly does know what a Dalek is. And some of the readers are at least much younger then you and I. Black Adder? Some idea. Top Gear? Yccch!

    I'm thinking I'm probably going to plunge for two, and one from Sparkfun plus breakout board, and one from my local. Either Micro Center, or another shop

    Oh and erco your robots have arrived. And they plan on bringing back a friend for your cat.....
  • Heater - thanks for the post. I WANT him to learn Javascript (I don't know it personally), but I had initially felt that getting familiar with the graphical way would be beneficial. But upon further thought after your post, you have convinced me to instead encourage him to go with the Javascript, for all the great reasons you cited.

    He is playing with the two systems other than Espruino thus far. The latter seems to offer some really advanced opportunities, so I am sure it is the best as you say. Lots of this is new to me, so I hope to learn alongside him. I'm 52 but can still learn s few things. Thank you for the reply. I do appreciate your many contributions to these forums (fora?) over the years and have gained much from your experience.

    Mekkatronix@yahoo.com
  • I think the "graphical way" might have advantage for starting off absolute beginners. Especially young ones. But if the curiosity is there to start typing "real code" it's time to move on.

    There is a big push for Python for kids and beginners. That's OK, not that I like Python much, but I seriously believe it is easier to deal with all kind of asynchronous events, as we have to do in robots and other gadgets, in Javascript.

    "52", bah, whippersnapper!

    My dad started teaching himself to program, starting from nothing, when he was over retirement age.

    Me, I'm way ahead of you. I only got into JS a few years back. This year has been the year of learning Verilog and Scala (For FPGA designs). Seems there is always a new programming language to learn...
  • I was even more inspired to prod my boy along a little after reading about $200K entry salaries in computer vision: time.com/money/4946034/high-paying-jobs-college-vision-pittsburgh-uber/

    This will likely translate to other future opportunities, and if he is prepared, he may benefit.


    Mekkatronix@yahoo.com
  • GordonMcCombGordonMcComb Posts: 3,366
    edited 2017-09-21 - 20:34:32
    George, Let him play -- he can use both. Even switch between them. Code written with blocks can be displayed as JavaScript (the code blocks are really little pieces of pre-written JavaScript), so it's always there.

    I'm sure Heater would be in full agreement, but there's no better language to learn than JavaScript, as it's used -- quite literally -- everywhere. Nobody ever lost a job opportunity because they knew JavaScript!

    Indeed, computer vision is a major go-to skill, now with more and more systems relying on analyzing video frames for scene content. Your son can start experimenting with it now, using still images (vision is just a series of still images) processed through open source code. OpenCV is pretty good, and well supported. It supports C, so any JavaScript experience will pay off handily. Common tasks to play with are things like color blob detection, outline detection, and various filters that can be used to further analyze the bitmap.

    AForge is another good vision library that's free, and needs only picture files for practice coding. Example (using C#, also no cost for individual use):

    https://www.codeproject.com/articles/9727/image-processing-lab-in-c
  • Gordon, i appreciate your comments (got your books, btw). I have seen a little about OpenCV elsewhere and even some color blob detection here on Parallax. Sounds like JavaScript experience is a great tool to have in the toolbox. You guys are a wonderful resource here for the hobbyist and the old hats.

    Mekkatronix@yahoo.com
  • As Gordon says, let him play.

    I don't like to see kids being pushed along to some career path for the sake of big bucks from a young age. Let them have fun, be encouraging, make things possible for them to do. If their passion grows the rest will follow.

    Or, they might take a turn into someting even more exciting that they like...

    I would not get hung up on the computer vision thing as a career. By the time he's old enough the big bucks wil be elsewhere.

    I imagine computer vision is an example of someting JS is not so good at. Appart from using some CV libraries perhaps. JS is not really suited to all that number crunching. Still as a first language its a good bassis to move on to others that are.

  • I am not trying to push him into computer vision, rather using that particular instance as an example of how important I personally think it is to gather a skill set including code writing these days. You are most correct that he needs to have fun, etc. That's why I have given him the Micro:bit (his eyes widened when presented with it as his very own board) and told him to work at HIS pace, when HE wants. Like you said, the rest will follow. We tried the HomeWork boards, but with almost ZERO technical support to get them running (Chris is gone, you know), they are useless. And I have finally admitted that the BASIC Stamp is perhaps not the best introduction to programming for him anyway. This little micro:bit board is a great alternative that will serve a purpose to introduce him to the ways of coding. And if he decides that he would rather pursue, say, music as a career, he can still use a lot of what he learns in the other career. Thanks for your post. I like to hear what you and others have to pass along, and welcome all your input.

    Mekkatronix@yahoo.com
  • That sounds wonderful.

    When I was 10 I had already been nailing batteries and lamps to bits of wood making circuits. I had lashed together an intercom out of an old WWII surplus radio microphone, head set and a battery. This electronics thing was a mystery. Why do lamps in series glow less bright that lamps in parallel?

    Then my dad bought me a Philips Electronics Engineer kit. I was over the moon. That kept me enthralled for a long time.

    It's been down hill ever since....


  • I have similar memories from days way past. My neighbor, the smartest guy I have ever known (he was 11 years old when we last saw each other... I discovered his whereabouts last year and spoke with him for the first time in 40 years...), and I found used blasting wire at the local rock quarry (I am now a geologist... hmm...) and connected it to radio speakers we found along the road, powered by 6 volt lantern batteries and interrupted by push button switches from his dad's model railroad display. We stretched the wires across the road between our houses and sent Morse Code messages to each other using the info we learned from my mother's World Book Encyclopedia. Worked great until car tires cut the wires or the DC burned the speaker coils. That launched my desire to enter electronics... still enthralled!

    Mekkatronix@yahoo.com
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