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Prop needs more YouTube presence/exposure — Parallax Forums

Prop needs more YouTube presence/exposure

So many getting excited about the comparatively lame Pico.
It has 2-cores and PIO.

I bring up the Prop but the silence is deafening :neutral:

Comments

  • JonnyMacJonnyMac Posts: 8,148
    edited 2022-07-29 18:44

    I have commented on a few YT few videos -- something like, "If you're happy with two cores and simple PIO, you'll really love eight cores, smart pins, and as many analog IOs as you want!"

    Parallax is a tech company. They don't do marketing. They don't write library code for their own products -- they count on the community to do that, and I think that causes hesitation in others. I am going to be taking a full P1/P2 demo kit (including my namesake, "the JonnyMac") to DEFCON in a couple weeks and hoping to engage anyone who will listen. In the past, people at DC would say, "The Arduino is better, why should I try the Propeller?" Then I would invite them to sit down with me and I could show them what the Propeller is all about. The overwhelming response was that they just didn't know about the Propeller (again, no marketing), or they believed bad information from those who don't actually use it.

    I stayed up late last night laying out an SAO (sh*tty add-on) adapter for my P2 Eval and will be taking it with me. Hopefully, there will be more than a few "smart" SAOs this year, and I can show people how I use the P2 with I2C.

    For those who don't know what SAO is, follow this link:
    -- https://hackaday.com/2019/03/20/introducing-the-shitty-add-on-v1-69bis-standard/

    For grins I tossed on a Qwiic connector, a button, and a couple APA102Cs.

  • Wuerfel_21Wuerfel_21 Posts: 2,996
    edited 2022-07-29 19:39

    Well, you can buy 50 cores worth of Pi Pico (assuming 5 USD each (preinstalled male headers)) for the same price as a P2EDGE with mini breakout and programmer (80 USD + 30 USD + 19 USD) - and that doesn't even break all the pins and isn't USB-powered without some sort of hack (actually, @VonSzarvas , idea for new propplug revision: add solder point for VBUS so you can jump it), so that's perhaps an explainer. (The fact that the completely passive mini breakout alone is worth 6 picos is kinda absurd if you think about it). If the cost to entry is > 100 USD few people will buy one just to mess with it. I actually haven't, I'm just leet enough to freeload off my reputation.

    Solutions, perhaps:

    • Make FLIP/Pico style all-in-one board (or, as often wanted, P1 Demoboard equivalent with built-in VGA etc)
    • Make it cheap
    • Offer discount on first purchase
    • Get it to hobby electronics stores around the world
  • MicksterMickster Posts: 2,152

    @JonnyMac

    Hey Jon,
    That's why I stated "Prop" and not Parallax.

    These guys that are promoting the other stuff are independent reviewers. What's it gonna take to get them on board.

    Greatscott has already stated that he's running short of material and the dude is no dummy.

    You are one of the many wizards of the community and you appeal to the geeks (and I mean this with the greatest respect) but we need those personalities who can deliver the message in more of an "oh wow, look what this thing can do!" manner.

    That "Swiss accent" guy is another who has a heck of a following.

    There has to be a zillion like me who want to realise a product but believe that it's beyond them....until they discover the Prop.

    Craig

  • MicksterMickster Posts: 2,152

    @Wuerfel_21
    I will never understand this cost issue.

    I have to believe that $20 is not worth more than a few minutes of your time. If it is, I wanna hire you :lol:

    Not all of us have your skills but we have ideas.

    For we know-nothings, the Prop opens up a whole new world of possibilities :smile:

    Craig

  • Believe me, my time has negative net worth.

  • MicksterMickster Posts: 2,152

    @Wuerfel_21 said:
    Believe me, my time has negative net worth.

    :lol::lol::lol:

    Well you impress the heck out of moi :+1:

    Craig

  • MicksterMickster Posts: 2,152

    Omron purchased one of the biggest names in motion control, Delta Tau.

    They now boast that they have the highest performing motion controller on the market because it can handle 5 axes @50usec Servo update.
    Scuse me? The P2 doesn't even break a sweat @32usec for 6 axes....not overclocked.

    The Omron is >$3K before the mandatory options.

    [dumbfounded]

    Craig

  • maccamacca Posts: 483

    @Mickster said:
    So many getting excited about the comparatively lame Pico.
    It has 2-cores and PIO.

    Oh, really ? Let's make a comparison...

    Documentation: the Pico RP2040 has a 600+ pages detailing every aspect of it, the P2 has a "documentation" (so to speak) scattered around a number of documents none of which is by far complete, none of the key aspects is explained in details, several things are mentioned in forum threads only.
    Development tools support: the Pico comes with MicroPython and C/C++ support, and if I'm not wrong it supports Windows, Linux and MacOS, the P2 official tool is that Propeller Tool Spin2 language that has no other use than the Propeller chips and it barely runs on Windows (if Microsoft doesn't decide to block 386 code in the future...), other languages are the work of volunteers.
    Price: as Ada pointed out (in a more nice way than I would have) you can buy 20+ Picos at the price of the bare minimum things you need to have a working P2.
    Easy of use: the Pico comes in a handy DIP module that can be placed on a breadboard or soldered directly on a PCB and can be programmed and powered from a stinking USB port, the P2 comes in a "cool" edge module that requires at least an adapter to be able to use dupont wires to connect to a breadboard (or the expensive breadboard adapter) and needs a dedicated power source, and another adapter to be programmed.

    The Pico comes with all that from day 1, the P2 comes with all that after nearly 3 years from the first availability.

    But yes, the problem is to have more Youtube presence...

  • evanhevanh Posts: 13,353

    The Prop2 silicon doc, albeit very terse, is as complete as intended.

  • maccamacca Posts: 483

    @evanh said:
    The Prop2 silicon doc, albeit very terse, is as complete as intended.

    Oh yes...

    STREAMER ACCESS
    (to be completed.)
    BYTECODE EXECUTION LOOKUP TABLE
    (to be completed.)

    if you say so...

  • evanhevanh Posts: 13,353
    edited 2022-07-30 06:39

    Huh, I guess Chip never got back to writing the small outline blurbs about lutRAM access. Nothing missing in detail that isn't covered further down the doc.

    I'll happily stand by my statement on that doc. It hasn't changed in a year and will be superseded by the Hardware Manual in time.

  • maccamacca Posts: 483

    @evanh said:
    Huh, I guess Chip never got back to writing the small outline blurbs about lutRAM access. Nothing missing in detail that isn't covered further down the doc.

    No, right, just a couple of key features, nothing important...

    I'll happily stand by my statement on that doc. It hasn't changed in a year and will be superseded by the Hardware Manual in time.

    Exactly, instead of expanding and completing the existing document, someone decided to write yet another unfinished draft document that may (or may not) document things not covered by other documents (and which, by the way, is dated october 2021 so nobody cared about it in the last 9 months...).

  • evanhevanh Posts: 13,353

    None of the outline blurbs are key to anything. Read the one prior about the Cog accessing lutRAM. It's just a general outline only.

    Chip's reference doc is finished. He wrote it as the silicon design evolved. Silicon was finished two years ago now.

    Parallax began writing the Hardware Manual but hasn't updated it since last year. I presume there is other more pressing needs for those personnel. Maybe Covid partly got in the way.

  • evanhevanh Posts: 13,353

    To be honest, I didn't know any of those outlines existed. That's how irrelevant they are.

  • MicksterMickster Posts: 2,152
    edited 2022-07-30 15:34

    @macca said:

    @Mickster said:
    So many getting excited about the comparatively lame Pico.
    It has 2-cores and PIO.

    Oh, really ? Let's make a comparison...

    Documentation: the Pico RP2040 has a 600+ pages detailing every aspect of it

    I for one would not be using the Prop if I had to wade through 600 pages just to make something work. It was bad enough with the PIC32 datasheets.

    I am not talking about a one-for-one comparison, I have simply noted the considerable excitement over the 2-cores and the non-CPU-impacting PIO.

    How often have I read about someone needing an extra UART, for example.

    The flexibility/versatility of the P1 and P2 would make for some great YouTube demonstrations and would definitely inspire others.

    Some of us just don't want to go down the C/C++ route to realise the full potential of the device. With the P1 and P2, non-wizard programmers only need to decide what they want to achieve and then more-or-less type-out what they want in the wonderful user-friendly BASIC syntax without sacrifcing performance (Python).

    Cost:

    Qty 12: 18200 H-Bridge drivers
    Qty 12: Pittman motors, fitted with HEDS-500 incremental encoders
    Qty 1: P2 Edge

    All running with sample-accurate synchronization/coordination

    For the Pico, I would need Qty 12: Dedicated motion chips such as the LM629 with comparatively feeble performance.
    Right now, Mouser are showing Qty: 12 in stock (30 more expected, end of August 2023)....£58.42 EACH

    So £4 for the Pico and at least £700 in support devices (if/when you can get them) makes the P2 look like a give-away.

    Smart Pins:

    These are documented but pure gobbledegook to me so I simply asked the community for an example of setting up PWM and quadrature decode and I was up and running :+1:

  • maccamacca Posts: 483
    edited 2022-07-30 17:01

    @Mickster said:
    I am not talking about a one-for-one comparison, I have simply noted the considerable excitement over the 2-cores and the non-CPU-impacting PIO.

    Yes, but is not fair to define something "lame" by comparing a single weak point and ignore all other things that make the product, as a whole, successful.

    Some of us just don't want to go down the C/C++ route to realise the full potential of the device. With the P1 and P2, non-wizard programmers only need to decide what they want to achieve and then more-or-less type-out what they want in the wonderful user-friendly BASIC syntax without sacrifcing performance (Python).

    The point is that the Pico has support for popular programming tools out of the box, this can't be said for P2. Maybe some are willing to learn Spin2, others will just ask if they can use the Arduino IDE and go away when they discover it isn't supported. When I first discovered the P1 several years ago I was disappointed to find that it uses a proprietary language, then I discovered the GCC support and continued from it. Without GCC support I think I'll not be here discussing with you.

    Cost:

    Qty 12: 18200 H-Bridge drivers
    Qty 12: Pittman motors, fitted with HEDS-500 incremental encoders
    Qty 1: P2 Edge

    All running with sample-accurate synchronization/coordination

    For the Pico, I would need Qty 12: Dedicated motion chips such as the LM629 with comparatively feeble performance.
    Right now, Mouser are showing Qty: 12 in stock (30 more expected, end of August 2023)....£58.42 EACH

    So £4 for the Pico and at least £700 in support devices (if/when you can get them) makes the P2 look like a give-away.

    Hmmm... I don't know much about the things you are listing here, but a quick search on Mouser shows that LMD18200T is 27,35 euros (sorry, EU here), and HEDS-5500#A12 is 54,84 euros (I guess the motor is an additional cost...), so the total is 986,28 euros + P2 cost (about 1.100 dollars, +400 doesn't seems an advantage to me...). If these are not the things you are referring to, please add the reference. And clarify why the Pico can't use the same supporting devices.

    If you want to make comparisons, make them fair!

    Anyway, I'm not criticizing the chip's feature, I'm criticizing the scattered and incomplete documentation and the missing support for popular programming tools.
    BTW, history is full of technically superior products that were a commercial failure, hope P2 will not be remembered for that...

  • MicksterMickster Posts: 2,152

    @macca

    Ah, sorry, poorly structured.

    No, the elements to be controlled are the drivers and the motors.
    The cost comparison is between the P2 Edge and the Pico.

    The P2 Edge directly interfaces with the drivers and motors for 12 axes of closed-loop control. Job done.

    • 3 signals from each encoder
    • 1 PWM signal to each 18200 (locked anti-phase, 50% duty = zero motor current)

    Not the Pico nor any other MCU on the planet can do this.

    To interface to an industrial machine, simply filter the PWM to +/- 10v and provide differential line receivers for the encoders and we're off to the races. :smile:
    Any combination of these 12 axes can be masters or slaves, electronically geared at any ratio....beautiful :smile:

    The typical solution is to use something like the LM628 or LM629 and even they can't compete with the P2
    https://mouser.co.uk/c/semiconductors/power-management-ics/motor-motion-ignition-controllers-drivers/?series=LM629

    Craig

  • evanhevanh Posts: 13,353

    I love how Flex allows easy mixing of Spin and C and Basic in a single compile.

  • MicksterMickster Posts: 2,152

    @evanh said:
    I love how Flex allows easy mixing of Spin and C and Basic in a single compile.

    And the OBEX, especially for the P1 is a treasure-trove but who is aware of it?

    The popularity of the Pico could be a vehicle for the Flip or DIP-40:

    A carrier-board with a Flip-compatible socket. Software peripherals.
    A uPython programmer would have no problem with FlexBasic.

    Craig

  • maccamacca Posts: 483
    edited 2022-07-31 08:54

    @Mickster said:
    No, the elements to be controlled are the drivers and the motors.
    The cost comparison is between the P2 Edge and the Pico.

    The P2 Edge directly interfaces with the drivers and motors for 12 axes of closed-loop control. Job done.

    • 3 signals from each encoder
    • 1 PWM signal to each 18200 (locked anti-phase, 50% duty = zero motor current)

    Not the Pico nor any other MCU on the planet can do this.

    That doesn't really answer the question... a quick search showed that the Pico can handle the LMD18200, I guess that an issue is that it doesn't have enough pins to drive all 12 axes... well... don't you think this is a bit unfair (to not say worse) ? It is like say P2 is "Smile" because can't run Linux... (although someone runs MS-DOS on it... so who knows...).

    To interface to an industrial machine, simply filter the PWM to +/- 10v and provide differential line receivers for the encoders and we're off to the races. :smile:
    Any combination of these 12 axes can be masters or slaves, electronically geared at any ratio....beautiful :smile:

    The typical solution is to use something like the LM628 or LM629 and even they can't compete with the P2

    Don't you see that you are taking a very specific and complex industrial application to label the Pico as "lame" ?
    For that matter even the P1 is "lame" and I guess there are a lot of other complex application where the P2 can be considered "lame".
    I have read comments defining the P1 "Smile" because it doesn't have hardware peripherals, you need to waste code space for a simple serial port and search code examples buried in forum threads to be able to do something... and that an Arduino UNO can do everything much better... you think these are fair comments ?

    Anyway, (again) I'm not discussion the chip features. The popularity of a product doesn't depend (entirely) on the bare features, and that is the aspect I'm criticizing most. Seems that Parallax doesn't care about making its products popular by supporting them appropriately with a complete documentation, support for third-party development tools, easy to use modules, etc. If that's what Parallax wants, fine with that, as I said on another thread, it is not my money at stake here.

    If you want to discuss how to make the P2 more popular, I'm ready to give my suggestions.

  • MicksterMickster Posts: 2,152

    @macca

    Heck, a 555 can drive the 18200.

    The "lame" was in reference to 2 cores vs 8 cogs.

    The point of everything else was about the real cost of the end product.
    Give the Pico an extra 100 pins, it's still not going to handle the demands of serious motion control :smile:

    Craig

  • evanhevanh Posts: 13,353

    I'd guess Parallax has simply run out of man-power for whatever reason. Resources seem to be going elsewhere for the moment.

  • MicksterMickster Posts: 2,152

    @evanh said:
    I'd guess Parallax has simply run out of man-power for whatever reason. Resources seem to be going elsewhere for the moment.

    It's all about cash-flow and reading between the lines, I think Ken understands the importance of a bit of diversification.
    This is why I'd like to see some of these established YT personalities pushing the Prop. Free marketing.

    I'm a lurker over at LinuxCNC and all I do is SMH. It's about time those guys stopped kidding themselves and got a Prop involved to handle the real-time stuff. They still have issues with jitter and latency which will never go away :lol:
    Heck of a market, right there :+1:

    Craig

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