Looking for advice, old Roboteer (2007ish time frame) returning to the fold...

… and would like to dust off my old robots and possibly up-grade.

I'm really just a hobbyist (had/have 2 Boe-Bots: one with a Basic Stamp 2 and one with a 2p24) who played around with add-ons like the Ping, IR sensors and EMIC (the original) for fun.
Stopped playing with the robots when the kids no longer took long naps and work/life got busier.

So...I'm thinking of getting the ActivityBot 360° Upgrade Kit for one of my bots, but wanted to ask for opinions before I committed.

What does an Arduino offer that a Propeller does not?

Can someone provide a short explanation on the difference between Propeller 1 and 2 (is 2 merely a 2nd generation of 1)?

I'm inclined toward straight code versus Blocky.
I took a course in Basic way back in 1985, and Modula in 1990, so I feel as if I would be more comfortable with straight text code verses a visual (an unfamiliar) format.
What would I be losing by not considering Blocky?

Thanks in advance,
OldTreebeard

PS
Please kindly let me know if this was the wrong forum for this post.

Comments

  • I'm not a blocky fan ither. It's probably good for elementary school students. I'd go with the Prop 1 and use the spin language. I haven't dabbled much in the P2 but it has spin2 , basic etc.. You can use the Simple IDE for prop 1 looks just like the Arduino C just in red.
  • Cool, so Prop 2 isn't an upgrade/replacement for Prop 1? Good to know.

    I haven't used Arduino, all my robot programs were in Basic Stamp.

    I'll look into Spin as a language option.

    Thanks for the reply,
    OT
  • Well if you go the Arduino route we will have to learn C/C++. No BASIC language there.

    The P2 is a hole new animal which is just coming alive. For the average joe the P1 is fine.

    I would get the ActivityBot 360 upgrade kit. Better servos.

    Now days people are looking for AI, and Cameras that can see objects and track them.

    I'm in it for the hobby.

    Mike
  • Welcome back to the forum.

    I do not know much about the Stamp-Series of Parallax, I went straight to the Propeller 1.

    to your questions.

    What does an Arduino offer that a Propeller does not.

    Well I am quite biased towards the P1 so I would say nothing, except maybe a lot of libraries and cheaper hardware.

    On the other hand the P1 offers you 8 cores and software peripherals, On an Arduino you have certain pins bound to specific hardware, like 2 SPI, 1 serial, whatever. So there are different Arduinos with different hardware on different pins.

    On P1 (and P2) you do not have that restriction, All pins are equal and you use COGS (cores) to simulate the hardware in software, so If you need you can put serial on every pin or can have multiple SPI busses all with the same chip.

    Programming multiple cores is a bit of mind boggling at the first, but once used to it it offers a lot of freedoms, your board design will be more easy since every pin can do what you need.

    The upcoming P2 is basically a P1 on steroids. 512 KB ram instead of 32KB, 64 pins instead of 32, ALL pins analog and digital, so you have 64 ADC and DAC or use the pins digital as you did with the stamps.

    The funny thing on the P2 is that each pin is sort of a independent sub-system. Chip named them Smart Pins. So you can tell the pin to say do PWM at some frequency and the pin will do that on its own while your program does something else.

    There are lots of nice things buried in those pins, Scope Mode, Quadrature Decoders,serial, I haven't even scratched the surface there, but the P2 is quite fresh now and Parallax will still need some time to provide better documentation.

    Enjoy!

    Mike
  • OldTreebeardOldTreebeard Posts: 5
    edited 2020-03-03 - 20:09:10
    iseries wrote: »
    Well if you go the Arduino route we will have to learn C/C++. No BASIC language there.

    The P2 is a hole new animal which is just coming alive. For the average joe the P1 is fine.

    I would get the ActivityBot 360 upgrade kit. Better servos.

    Now days people are looking for AI, and Cameras that can see objects and track them.

    I'm in it for the hobby.

    Mike

    I didn't realize P2 was that recent of an option, and yes, the new servos on the AB360 do look impressive.
    I'll likely stick with my old PING for awhile before I jump into cameras and simulated vision.

    Thanks for the note,
    OT
  • OldTreebeardOldTreebeard Posts: 5
    edited 2020-03-03 - 20:09:15
    msrobots wrote: »
    Welcome back to the forum.

    I do not know much about the Stamp-Series of Parallax, I went straight to the Propeller 1.

    to your questions.

    What does an Arduino offer that a Propeller does not.

    Well I am quite biased towards the P1 so I would say nothing, except maybe a lot of libraries and cheaper hardware.

    On the other hand the P1 offers you 8 cores and software peripherals, On an Arduino you have certain pins bound to specific hardware, like 2 SPI, 1 serial, whatever. So there are different Arduinos with different hardware on different pins.

    On P1 (and P2) you do not have that restriction, All pins are equal and you use COGS (cores) to simulate the hardware in software, so If you need you can put serial on every pin or can have multiple SPI busses all with the same chip.

    Programming multiple cores is a bit of mind boggling at the first, but once used to it it offers a lot of freedoms, your board design will be more easy since every pin can do what you need.

    The upcoming P2 is basically a P1 on steroids. 512 KB ram instead of 32KB, 64 pins instead of 32, ALL pins analog and digital, so you have 64 ADC and DAC or use the pins digital as you did with the stamps.

    The funny thing on the P2 is that each pin is sort of a independent sub-system. Chip named them Smart Pins. So you can tell the pin to say do PWM at some frequency and the pin will do that on its own while your program does something else.

    There are lots of nice things buried in those pins, Scope Mode, Quadrature Decoders,serial, I haven't even scratched the surface there, but the P2 is quite fresh now and Parallax will still need some time to provide better documentation.

    Enjoy!

    Mike

    Based on your comments, I might just skip the P1 and jump up to a P2.
    I did find comments online about the lower priced hardware for Arduino, I just wanted to check and see if I missed any other advantages/disadvantages before I made a decision.

    512 KB ram does sound sweet. If I remember correctly I was bumping up against RAM limits in my 2p24 code, likely due to inefficient coding/structure, but more ram is always better.

    I still have a lot to learn (and relearn), but am looking forward to jumping back in.

    Thanks for the note,
    OT
  • Based on your comments, I might just skip the P1 and jump up to a P2.

    The P2 will likely be an amazing chip but it's not really ready for prime time just yet.

    The P1 is loads of fun. I just purchased some 360 servos myself and I'm working on some Spin code to control a robot using these servos. I bet there's already Spin code available (I haven't looked) but I wanted to write my own code anyway.

    I've got some pretty good speed control code and I'm working on the position control code now. I'll be happy to share the code if you don't find something better first.

    I'm wondering about adapting the Arlo code for use with the 360 servos. I'm not sure how much of a demand there is for this sort of thing but if anyone is interested, I hope they let me know.

  • Throwing my 2 cents in toward P1. P2 will be amazing but the dev tools are still in development themselves, the documentation isn't finished, and there aren't a lot of finished libraries to take advantage of.

    One advantage Arduinos do have is ADC pins, which are useful for some peripherals. P1 can theoretically do delta-sigma ADC but in practice it doesn't work very well. (P2 will fix that.) But most Arduino CPU's are also slooooow and memory-poor compared to even P1.

    I also used the Arduino IDE recently, not for an actual Arduino but for the Expressif ESP32 second-generation WiFi controller, and the experience of using the Arduino development tool makes me want to wash my eyes out with bleach. It is aggressively designed to prevent you from learning anything. I actually had to use a disk scan tool called Agent Ransack to figure out where the damn libraries were on my hard drive so I could look at them to figure out how they worked. If you use the PropTool and the available objects for it, all the library objects are right there for you to click on and read their comments and look at their source code if you're curious. Nothing is hidden, and that's how a system designed for education should be.
  • OldTreebeard,

    As localroger pointed out the Propeller is a lot more powerful but most people have a heard of an Arduino.

    If you search online you will mostly find things done with an Arduino so it's handy to have one for experimenting.

    Sometimes Propeller code for a device is just code that has been converted from Arduino code.

    I have several Arduino boards and kits.
  • First, thanks for all the comments.

    It looks likes the bulk of the recommendations are that I should start with P1 and not necessarily venture into P2, given its recent development.
    Advice accepted. :smile:

    I might take a look at an Arduino later in life, but for now I need to just jump back into and upgrade the bots I have.

    Thanks again,
    OT
  • Blockly is good for youngsters who are just getting started, but if you have any experience at all, it will take you more time to get to where you want than you want to spend.

    Spin is a very nice, elegant language that was designed for the Propeller so it gives you the best access (my opinion) to the hardware. I have written hundreds of Propeller objects, many of which I use in consulting (I have developed several commercial products with the P1, and written the code for many others). Yes, I have even ported a few Arduino libraries to Spin, but most of the time I end up fixing the inefficiencies in the original code.

    If C is more your thing, there is an official compiler. When you get to unofficial tools, the doors blow wide open and you have lots of choices. FlexGUI which supports Spin, PASM, C, and BASIC is getting a lot of attention. It works with the P1 and P2.

    If you've got an Activity Bot you have a nice platform to work with. It may take a bit of time to get used to the idea of multiple processors running at the same time, but when you do, it's a lot of fun.

    Not that it matters, but in my work, I uses straight Spin with PASM (assembly) where speed is required. Give Spin a spin -- I promise you'll have fun!
  • Something to consider getting along with the ActivityBot 360° Upgrade Kit is a WX ESP8266 WiFi Module to allow wireless programming.

    I've been looking around a bit to see if other people have written Spin drivers for the new servos and I found several good alternatives to the driver I'm working on.

    I doesn't look like Parallax is actively writing Spin tutorials for the 360 servos but I don't think you'll have trouble finding good resources here on the forum.
  • ercoerco Posts: 19,654
    Welcome back, OldTreebeard! Per others, Abot 360 upgrade is an awesome path for your situation. I agree with other comments about Blockly, best for beginners.

    Also consider the P1-based S3 robot (green). So much built-in (encoders and sensors) and ready to go, plus a hacker port topside for custom I/O, plus a big Lipo battery. https://learn.parallax.com/tutorials/robot/scribbler-robot/scribbler-s3-quick-video-introduction

    Or find a good eBay deal on an S2 (red) robot. Similar to S3 but no built-in hacker port, uses alkaline batteries. NIB for $75: https://www.ebay.com/itm/324082376078/
  • OldTreebeard,
    Thank you for generating and running this debate.
    Many of us are also interested in these questions and we appreciate the insight and comments from senior forum members.
    I hope you and the other posters to this thread do not mind, but I have made a summary of comments as a quick guide;

    WHAT DOES AN ARDUINO OFFER THAT A PROPELLER DOES NOT?
    If you go the Arduino route we will have to learn C/C++. No BASIC language there.
    I am quite biased towards the P1 so I would say nothing, except maybe a lot of libraries and cheaper hardware.
    On the other hand the P1 offers you 8 cores and software peripherals, On an Arduino you have certain pins bound to specific hardware, like 2 SPI, 1 serial, whatever. So there are different Arduinos with different hardware on different pins.
    On P1 (and P2) you do not have that restriction, All pins are equal and you use COGS (cores) to simulate the hardware in software, so If you need you can put serial on every pin or can have multiple SPI busses all with the same chip.
    Programming multiple cores is a bit of mind boggling at the first, but once used to it it offers a lot of freedoms, your board design will be more easy since every pin can do what you need.
    One advantage Arduinos do have is ADC pins, which are useful for some peripherals. P1 can theoretically do delta-sigma ADC but in practice it doesn't work very well. (P2 will fix that.) But most Arduino CPU's are also slooooow and memory-poor compared to even P1.
    I also used the Arduino IDE recently, not for an actual Arduino but for the Expressif ESP32 second-generation WiFi controller, and the experience of using the Arduino development tool makes me want to wash my eyes out with bleach. It is aggressively designed to prevent you from learning anything. I actually had to use a disk scan tool called Agent Ransack to figure out where the damn libraries were on my hard drive so I could look at them to figure out how they worked. If you use the PropTool and the available objects for it, all the library objects are right there for you to click on and read their comments and look at their source code if you're curious. Nothing is hidden, and that's how a system designed for education should be.
    As localroger pointed out the Propeller is a lot more powerful but most people have a heard of an Arduino.
    If you search online you will mostly find things done with an Arduino so it's handy to have one for experimenting.
    Sometimes Propeller code for a device is just code that has been converted from Arduino code.
    I have several Arduino boards and kits.
    Spin is a very nice, elegant language that was designed for the Propeller so it gives you the best access (my opinion) to the hardware. I have written hundreds of Propeller objects, many of which I use in consulting (I have developed several commercial products with the P1, and written the code for many others). Yes, I have even ported a few Arduino libraries to Spin, but most of the time I end up fixing the inefficiencies in the original code.
    If C is more your thing, there is an official compiler. When you get to unofficial tools, the doors blow wide open and you have lots of choices. FlexGUI which supports Spin, PASM, C, and BASIC is getting a lot of attention. It works with the P1 and P2.
    I did find comments online about the lower priced hardware for Arduino, I just wanted to check and see if I missed any other advantages/disadvantages before I made a decision.


    CAN SOMEONE PROVIDE A SHORT EXPLANATION ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PROPELLER 1 AND 2 (IS 2 MERELY A SECOND GENERATION OF 1)
    The P2 is a whole new animal which is just coming alive. For the average joe the P1 is fine.
    The upcoming P2 is basically a P1 on steroids. 512 KB ram instead of 32KB, 64 pins instead of 32, ALL pins analog and digital, so you have 64 ADC and DAC or use the pins digital as you did with the stamps.
    The funny thing on the P2 is that each pin is sort of a independent sub-system. Chip named them Smart Pins. So you can tell the pin to say do PWM at some frequency and the pin will do that on its own while your program does something else.
    there are lots of nice things buried in those pins, Scope Mode, Quadrature Decoders,serial, I haven't even scratched the surface there, but the P2 is quite fresh now and Parallax will still need some time to provide better documentation.
    The upcoming P2 is basically a P1 on steroids. 512 KB ram instead of 32KB, 64 pins instead of 32, ALL pins analog and digital, so you have 64 ADC and DAC or use the pins digital as you did with the stamps.
    The funny thing on the P2 is that each pin is sort of a independent sub-system. Chip named them Smart Pins. So you can tell the pin to say do PWM at some frequency and the pin will do that on its own while your program does something else.
    The P2 will likely be an amazing chip but it's not really ready for prime time just yet.
    Throwing my 2 cents in toward P1. P2 will be amazing but the dev tools are still in development themselves, the documentation isn't finished, and there aren't a lot of finished libraries to take advantage of.

    I’M INCLINED TOWARD STRAIGHT CODE VERSUS BLOCKY
    I'm not a blocky fan either. It's probably good for elementary school students.
    Blockly is good for youngsters who are just getting started, but if you have any experience at all, it will take you more time to get to where you want than you want to spend.
    at all, it will take you more time to get to where you want than you want to spend.
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