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Thread: Arduino vs Propeller

  1. #201

    Default Re: Arduino vs Propeller

    Exciting stuff Ken!

    Re: Others.

    I too strongly believe in "the more the merrier", and in this space there is a strong upward trend. That's good for everybody. One data point you all might be interested in:

    When I latched onto the Prop, it was near the beginning. We didn't have a lot of docs, other than the "guts" document Chip did, first rev of the manual, and some code moving around. (which actually was the documentation for me in many ways)

    Back then, I would talk about it with the general response being, "meh." Who wants to go hardcore with just a CPU, when there are game consoles, computers and such?

    Deffo felt like a niche thing, and in some ways it still is, but the times are changing. People are more interested now, and I can link to projects of many kinds on many different platforms that spark interest. This is a really good thing!

    It has been my life experience the really killer platforms never see the large share. It has also been my experience that where there is something great, it's kept alive by the people who grok it for what it is. The Prop has a smallish community compared to others, and it's new in a lot of ways requiring some boot-strapping not as necessary for many other devices out there. OBC is always mentioning projects and such, and that's where the growth is at. People who enter this hobby, or who have professional interests, do so on any number of devices. Might be Prop, might be Xmos, Arduino, TI, PIC, you name it. Doesn't matter.

    What does matter is they build the skill needed to then select a Prop when it makes sense, and having it makes sense means seeing what Props do and having people to talk to / work with to do them. That is where our small club has and continues to do a good job. If somebody walks in, they generally get a good experience and there is a lot of value added to the Prop because of that. One doesn't just buy a chip. They buy into the community surrounding it.

    This is a big part of why Arduino has the share it does. This is also why we are growing Prop mind-share out there too.

    There are always tech sweet spots. Cost / capability ratio is really great on some devices, not so great on others. That's all weighted by a given persons experience and interests too. Projects out there help with this big, and the more the merrier. Tools are another big contributor, and we've got great tools now, getting better! Compared to the early days, the choices now are potent, varied, growing, supported. More open now as well, though I personally don't see open as a primary selection criteria. So long as it's open enough, I'm good. Many differ on this, and the general trend seems to be "really open", and we are nearly there.

    Props are very interesting devices, and those qualities that differentiate them also put them off the mainstream track. This dynamic is always in play, always will be too.

    From where I stand, the single most important thing is whether or not the community surrounding the Prop is enough to move Parallax and the various vendors associated forward. If that's true, we gain and it's all viable. Prop I chips will be available for a very long time. Each new member is worth a lot over that time period too. There will be lots of one-offs, and every so often, somebody more than that. We need 'em all, but we need the "lifer" type users more, because they carry things through over the longer haul.

    Retro-computing communities are still thriving on old stuff, and they see enough mind-share to continue to do new things, release software, hardware projects, etc... They all work to capture newbies, not like some dedicated effort, but more like just being open, friendly, fun, sharing, challenging, etc... We've got that here too, and it is a great thing, one that keeps me going personally.

    IMHO, we are in a great time right now. Lots of new interest, and general public awareness of our niche is growing nicely right now, reinforced by many things in play economically, politically, and just culturally. The geeks are of age now, and are influencing things just as the boomers did before, and it's our time more than it isn't because of that.

    So bring it on! Whatever device gets a person started, great! When they work that one over to it's limits, they will explore another one, or they will find one or the other aligned with their personal interests / product needs. Props are great, and will capture plenty of those as long as the majority of us are good ambassadors to our corner of the hobby.
    Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball! @opengeekorg ---> Be Excellent To One Another

    Parallax colors simplified: http://forums.parallax.com/showthrea...hics_Demo.spin
    PropGCC Mac OS 10.6.8 + https://www.dropbox.com/sh/pf1uulr4b...Xx0wYC?v=1mcis




  2. #202
    Cluso99's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arduino vs Propeller

    Ken: Thanks for your words of inspiration. Interesting about the propII - we wait with baited breath

    Jon: Magnificent. And I am convinced you are right when it comes to the prop being the ideal micro for your jobs.

    Some of the more recent discussion has been a little OT (off topic). However, it tends to reinforce what can be done with the prop. This has been one of the better threads and thankfully did not go the way they usually do. It provides quite a lot of good info for a beginner. Perhaps it deserves a reference in one of the stickies?
    My Prop boards: CpuBlade, TriBlade, RamBlade, www.clusos.com
    Prop Tools (Index)
    Emulators (Index) ZiCog (Z80)
    Prop OS (also see Sphinx, PropDos, PropCmd)

  3. #203

    Default Re: Arduino vs Propeller

    Thanks for the help, guys. It's obvious what an experienced person can do with their tools of choice. What some people will do by piling on cogs, others will do by piling on boards. There's no point in debating pros and cons of multi-core vs multi-processor. When you run out of cogs you have to pile on boards anyway. You can do it fastest with whatever you can be productive with fastest.

    Propellers are wonderful. I'm not knocking the prop. But one of the key things with any platform and its community is ease of entry. We're living in a time when a lot more young people grew up with technology in hand, and now are starting to explore what THEY can build. Not just here. In India. In China. This market now in the tens of thousands, will be in the millions. I came here looking at the prop, and found specific things that I thought could be done better to make entry smoother. One of them was taking advantage of the momentum of the Arduino interconnect "standards", because it's likely the best way to get more NEW people who can't always build their own hardware to be using the prop. The other was making the software entry easier with very clearly coded examples for readily available hardware. In all the horn blowing and Prop enthusiasm, which I can relate to, I hope these thoughts will not be lost.

  4. #204

    Default Re: Arduino vs Propeller

    Thousands of users with varying degrees of experience who want to build something and who either don't want to, or don't know how to, build a lot of hardware or write a lot of code.
    We should take no comfort in the idea that products are being developed by engineers with this mindset. I mean, really, would you want an aircraft safety system designed by a person who doesn't want to be bothered learning electronics or writing code?... And does Arduino sales to the hobbyist world translate to large scale sales of Atmel chips? Probably not; I believe most using Atmel chips for large scale products took a more traditional path. If anything, I think Parallax has erred on counting too much on the hobby world, and not providing the tool chain that professionals -- you know, the kind that can be bothered to learn how to do things correctly -- want to use.

    I know I'm stating the obvious here, but the Arduino was not created by Atmel. So if you're really that concerned about Propeller market share, why not create your own Propeller based product that lights up the hobbyist world, that turns the "lazy" into engineers? I'm sure Parallax would be very happy. You seem to have all the solutions -- why not put them to use. If you're right, you might make a nice living for yourself, too.

    the Arduino interconnect "standards"
    Except for that pesky, non-standard pin spacing on headers which makes prototyping with perf-oard a pain! Sorry... couldn't help myself.
    Jon McPhalen
    Burbank, CA

  5. #205

    Default Re: Arduino vs Propeller

    Jon,

    The irony of your last statements.. You created the Propeller Platform standard. A device which has a hobby friendly footprint, allowing people with limited understanding to do amazing things with the Propeller.

    I think your statement was harsh. There are many EE's who got their start early on with those Radio Shack, spin-clipped electronics kits. They don't use springs today in their current professional designs, but they certainly started there! Many computer technicians got their start with mere "toys" (Commodore 64, Atari, etc). These stepping stones provided the first-steps to entry in what have become lifetime careers.

    I'm proud to be on the front lines of these types of projects. The stepping stones of hobby electronics may well hold the interests of young people who will make technology their professional career later.

    OBC
    Visit PROPELLERPOWERED.COM -:- PMC/PEB 2014 available now!
    After you are done here, wander over to our Friendly Forums.
    Online Chat Saturday Nights 9pm EST -:- Projects, not Platforms -:- Follow me on Twitter.

  6. #206

    Default Re: Arduino vs Propeller

    The Arduino is a excellent example of software driven success. It's software has allowed artists and other non-technical types to build their own embedded systems with relative ease.

    Embedded Artists did as much the same with their ARM based mbed controller, it wasn't so much the hardware as the C compiler suite with a rich set of routines that allowed programmers to get up and running quite fast without having to dig into ARM data books. Without it's elaborate library, the mbed would have been just another eval board.

  7. #207

    Default Re: Arduino vs Propeller

    The mbed is an ARM initiative, and is nothing to do with Embedded Artists. You are probably thinking of the LPCXpresso, which was designed by the latter.
    Leon Heller
    G1HSM

  8. #208

    Default Re: Arduino vs Propeller

    I think your statement was harsh. There are many EE's who got their start early on with those Radio Shack, spin-clipped electronics kits.
    I'm one of them! And do you know what I use every day? The PPDB. I can actually develop useful circuits with it before worrying about building a PCB. While I have Demo Boards and QuickStart boards, I only use them as "blinky light show-and-tell" boards'; as a developer I don't want to be restrained by hardware connections made by somebody else.

    You're right, I did create the Propeller Platform and as I stated in print, it was inspired the by the Arduino (less the goofy pin spacing). Honestly, I had hoped that Parallax would produce it because I thought that would drive the price down, and combined with BST provided a option for those happy about cross-platform development for the Arduino (which I absolutely support).

    I think Ken and Parallax have made some difficult and brave decisions about creating development tools, and while it will be a little rough to start, long term I think it's good for the Propeller and those of us that put it to use in our work. For the record, I do that: while I have fun with the Propeller, a big part of my day-to-day work is designing commercial products (or circuits for products) with it.
    Jon McPhalen
    Burbank, CA

  9. #209

    Default Re: Arduino vs Propeller

    Quote Originally Posted by JonnyMac View Post
    I'm one of them! And do you know what I use every day? The PPDB.
    Ah, so you developed the PPDB I've seen in Nuts & Volts. But I'm confused, is your name McPhalen or Williams, because I've seen both used in N&V in conjunction with the Propeller and the PPDB?

  10. #210

    Default Re: Arduino vs Propeller

    I developed the original Propeller Platform (all DIP chips for easy assembly) for my column in Nuts & Volts; the Propeller PDB was developed by Parallax after I helped start EFX-TEK (and I'm happy for it; it's my favorite development board). I am in fact the artist formerly known as Jon Williams (still use it for the magazine by-line).
    Jon McPhalen
    Burbank, CA

  11. #211

    Default Re: Arduino vs Propeller

    Quote Originally Posted by JonnyMac View Post
    I am in fact the artist formerly known as Jon Williams (still use it for the magazine by-line).
    Well, at least you don't use a weird looking symbol instead of a name! ;-)

  12. #212

    Default Re: Arduino vs Propeller

    I have been reading this thread on and off for a while now. I think about it often while I take my lunch break walk and have a few things to say:

    After managing engineers and skilled workers for a number of years now I amazed at how emotionally attached we can become to Ideas, Designs, Software and Hardware. Allegiance directed towards the tools of the trade will impair even the most skilled when it's time to be objective. And this thread to me is a prime example of this lack of objectivity....of course the Propeller is better...just kidding! Come on, it was a joke! The fact that this dialog has gone on with salient points on both sides is evidence of the success of both platforms. The fact that Parallax has not squashed the thread early on bears tribute the brass ones they have and the confidence in their product line.

    I am a mechanical guy who, through the use of the Parallax educational resources, became a pretty savvy electronic guy...after burning my share of I/O's on the first few Stamps. As I progressed in my skills I became frustrated with limitations I perceived to be the limitations of the hardware or software of the Parallax products I took a look around at what else was out there. Soon I found something else and swore I'd never use another Stamp again. Guess what...I still use Stamps, can't remember the name of the other one I swore off Parallax for and I am weekly impressed with the power and versatility of the Propeller.

    At the same time I look at all the cools stuff people are doing with the Arduino and other products out there. In the end it is more a testament to the innovative minds that cook up the ideas than to the products they use to do whatever it is they are doing. Everyone has their favorites. That is the way it was, is now and always will be. No one is going to change that. Let's be proud of what we can do...it's pretty cool!

    AND KEN....remember what Henry Ford said of consumer requests...."If I listened to my customers, I would've given them a faster horse"

  13. #213

    Default Re: Arduino vs Propeller

    Quote Originally Posted by Surfaceplate View Post

    AND KEN....remember what Henry Ford said of consumer requests...."If I listened to my customers, I would've given them a faster horse"
    That comment was made before genetic engineering came of age

  14. #214

    Default Re: Arduino vs Propeller

    I'm enough of an outsider here to appreciate both sides of the debate. There are some assumptions I made about the Propeller, at the outset, that were wrong. And I see others suffering the same misapprehensions.

    Decades spent in the PIC and AVR world did not prepare me for the flexibility of the Prop. Remapping pins has never before been 1/100 as easy as it is with the Prop. Every app from OBEX I've used has been completely flexible as to how I wanted to wire things. The Arduino NEEDS the "standards" Fernand keeps talking about because it would be intractable any other way...and that is because of the fundamental limits of the AVR chip itself.

    On the subject of timing...if you have an AVR generating NTSC or PAL, all the timers in the world aren't going to save you from having to delicately and carefully shoehorn in other uP activity during blanking and retrace intervals. It will never be 1/100 as easy as the Prop. I can (and do, all the time) have a video generator in one cog and something entirely different and ultra-demanding running on the cog next door, and yet it is utter child's play to have them operate full tilt in the same chip.

    But in defense of Fernand...I can TOTALLY relate to the documentation frustration. Phil's Tricks 'n Traps were a great help, as were Graham Stabler's tutorials. de Silva's PASM tutorial was absolutely invaluable. But it would be great if all of these disparate resources were condensed and formalized by Parallax into an official document of not very many pages.

    Historical Example: My intro to computer programming was 6502 assembly. Only years later did I write my first line of HLL code. And that HLL was BASIC on the Color Computer. I wasn't even sure my CoCo had BASIC, or what abilities BASIC had...it was just a word I'd heard tossed about. But I had a thermodynamics assignment to complete (several hundred iterations of the air-standard Brayton cycle) and didn't want to wait in line for a VAX terminal. So I pulled out the CoCo's manuals (that I'd carefully preserved against the day that I might want to look at them). I was horribly dismayed to realize how stupid and verbose they were. I was a college student and didn't have 26 consecutive nights to digest their nitwit content! Then I discovered a little red and white pamphlet I'd saved with the books, that contained a summary of every BASIC command and every OS command.

    Long story short, the thermodynamics assignment was done in a flash and I'd gained a vast new appreciation for my silly little computer (which, until then, was just a vehicle for 6809 assembly).

    From the get-go, I was looking for such a pamphlet for the Prop. The Propeller Chip Quick Reference was too little, and said absolutely nothing about the particular points that were troubling me so much. Meanwhile, the Propeller Manual was far too big and much too diffuse. I *still* didn't have 26 consecutive nights to digest a computer manual. (And I found out much later that the manual never really does address head-on the questions that puzzled me so greatly.)

    This forum would have been a great place to ask all the questions I had, but I was too private and too proud. I just wanted the 'right' document in my hot little hands, and I expected Parallax to provide it.

    One final point I'd like to make: Someone earlier in this thread criticized the Prop for not having JTAG. I was put off by this same 'glaring omission' at first. Later I had the opportunity to use a JTAG-equipped uC at work, and found JTAG to be woefully lacking. It is really just a post-mortem tool. It is far too slow to capture real-time diagnostics. I can capture far more data, and in real-time, on a Prop just by using a spare cog. JTAG is just about the most overrated feature I've ever encountered.

    I'm firmly in JonnyMac's camp regarding the Prop: It is the most productive and flexible embedded controller I've ever used. The more simultaneous tasks you have, the more critical their timing is, and the quicker it all has to be finished, the more the Prop shines.

    And as heater pointed out, a couple decoupling caps and a prop plug is all it takes to make the Prop come alive.

    Someday I'd like to own a BOE, P3, PDB, ViewPort, etc. But I'm doing perfectly well with perf board and the PropTool.

  15. #215
    Cluso99's Avatar
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    Default Re: Arduino vs Propeller

    UserName: Thankyou. You make some extremely well-presented observations.

    I have the Prop Instruction summary at hand, and I refer to the Prop Manual from time to time using pdf search - ouch!. I agree that a little more detailed summary would hit the mark.

    The prop shines once you have more than one time critical process to handle. We can use VGA or TV (or a PC for that matter) by just changing the object. No need to tune the interrupt routines because they don't exist. ANd we don't need to fight over pins. I have my little modules that I can make anything from quite simply. I don't have to go an order that particular PIC/AVR etc because my version doesn't have I2C and SPI or whatever.
    My Prop boards: CpuBlade, TriBlade, RamBlade, www.clusos.com
    Prop Tools (Index)
    Emulators (Index) ZiCog (Z80)
    Prop OS (also see Sphinx, PropDos, PropCmd)

  16. #216

    Default Re: Arduino vs Propeller

    Hello,

    I have used the Propeller with groups of kids for 3 years and i learned some things:

    Propeller boards are often too expensive for teachers.

    Kids like it when it is easy and clear . If it is hard they quit.

    So i used rather the Propeller Platform. But four pins for analog input are missing.

    Objects are very appreciated but we need a clear library of functions (like the Arduino one) .

    A block language simple and easy to use will help a lot to make it friendly for kids.

    Jean Paul

  17. #217

    Default Re: Arduino vs Propeller

    Quote Originally Posted by Cats92 View Post
    A block language simple and easy to use will help a lot to make it friendly for kids.
    Have you seen 12Blocks?

  18. #218

    Default Re: Arduino vs Propeller

    I have used 12blocks with a group of kids last year.
    Nice for programmers and Hanno is very helpful.I like it.

    But if you buy it and a demoboard i think it is rather expensive for teatchers.
    And i am not quite sure that it is specific for young kids. A bit hard and complex sometimes .

    If you have a look at what is used with Arduino you find more tools and much more applications for kids than for the Propeller .

    Last week i tested Minibloq on an Arduino Duemilanove.
    After ten minutes it works.

    You find it here : http://minibloq.net/

  19. #219

    Default Re: Arduino vs Propeller

    I started a new business last year and have been using the propeller with great success. I just signed my biggest contract(160K) to date and it was the ease of learning and capabilities that led me to use the Prop. I still am a newbie and have a lot to learn but I find the Propeller has met all my needs even with the terrible code I write at the moment. Lol...The Object Exchange has been a great help and i have not had to ask for much help as there is plenty between the forums and docs. The easiest way for me to learn at the moment has been to just go through the educational manuals. In a year or two, I'll be rocking along on coding hopefully. I am currently trying to learn communications. RF, Serial, WIFI,, etc... Lots to learn but I'm enjoying it. Thanks Parallax for the opportunity to build my dreams! You guys rock!


  20. #220

    Default Re: Arduino vs Propeller

    I know the thread was long ago but in case someone is searching. As usual, I try to break the idea down to several simple statements.

    Soon their projects will require doing several things at once: sense environment, control servos, process, read/write to EEPROM. They can see that.

    Then I observe that many of these things need exact action at exact times (servos as crude example). If they have to get all of those timings on tpo of each other exactly right they will be overwhelmed. That is new knowledge but easy to understand

    Prop has eight microcontrollers that can co-ordinate so you can just assign one task to each cog and never have a problem. Completely logical.

    That explanation has basically always worked because they can picture it. So they accept a higher $ to start knowing they will be better off later.

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