BASIC Stamp 2 clones / inexpensive alternatives? (pref. same features, works with BOE)

I picked up Parallax's BASIC Stamp Discovery Kit to learn with, and so far so good. The documentation is good and it is simple to program.
However Fry's/Digikey/Mouser/etc all charge $48-$59 for the microcontroller, so building devices could become expensive. Is there a "clone" of the module available for less? I would prefer one that can be programmed with the Board Of Education so I don't have to go out and buy new hardware... The language doesn't have to be BASIC (although it would help not having to rewrite any code) - I can understand Java, C, etc. As long as the dev software is free or inexpensive, and well documented. It's more important that the microcontroller has the same # of inputs/outputs and memory. Any info appreciated... thanks.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Those are good for a first step, but not targeting volume usage. There are plenty of uC out there, with good development systems. Up to around 8-32K, you can expect tools to be essentially free.
The USB-Stick approach seems to be be pathway many are taking, and it does give very low entry costs. Some are cheap enough, to use in medium volumes, skipping the PCB design and parts procurement.
Look at * Silabs ToolStick family. * TI's MSP430 have similar USB sticks, but no 5V models * Freescale are starting to stir. Their MC9RS08KA8/4 is a good example of the low end, and wide Vcc. DEMO9RS08KA8 $50 (USB, but not a stick) * ST also have USB sticks, including some ARM ones.
etc
-jg
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Jim Granville wrote:

Given that you are already using the Basic Stamp, you are probably comfortable with microcontrollers that have DIP pin-outs. The Atmel AVR family has some microcontrollers in 28-pin skinny DIP format (.3" between pin rows) and in 40-pin DIP (.6" between pin rows.) The Atmel AVR toolchain is free for Windows, MacOS, and Linux (GCC). If you spend ~$50 for an AVR-Dragon, you can both program and *debug* the chips. The chips themselves are quite inexpensive -- ATmega168 and ATmega324P are the ones I use. So for the price of one new Basic Stamp you can switch over to a much cheaper microcontroller.
-Wayne
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Wayne C. Gramlich wrote:

and if you go down this road, you can use basic like commands in a product such as Bascom-AVR: http://www.dontronics-shop.com/BASCOM-AVR-p-16138.html
or you can stick with PIC's and still use Basic: http://www.dontronics-shop.com/Basic-Compilers-p-1-c-275.html
Don...
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You might be interested in this: http://www.phanderson.com/picaxe/picaxe_overview.html
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On Mon, 11 Feb 2008 09:48:47 -0800 (PST), snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Picaxe
http://www.phanderson.com/picaxe/picaxe.html 3 chips for $10 with programming resistors - you need a serial port and a solderless breadboard plus free software - all of $20 to get started and they can outperform some Basic Stamps. Available in 8-40 pin versions.
http://www.rev-ed.co.uk/picaxe/ Home of the picaxe and site for software downloads.
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Hello, and I would also add that while Nuts & Volts magazine has run the column "Stamp Applications" for some time now, they have recently published articles on the picaxe. Sincerely,
John Wood (Code 5550) e-mail: snipped-for-privacy@itd.nrl.navy.mil Naval Research Laboratory 4555 Overlook Avenue, SW Washington, DC 20375-5337
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On Mon, 11 Feb 2008 18:10:08 -0500, "Charles"

I have used both and find the PICAXE series to be a good option for most projects.
John www.picaxe.us
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