i'm looking for some advice please. i'm a mechanical engineer looking
to get into amateur robotics. my mechanical background is obviously
strong, my electrical not too bad, my electronics is weak and my
programming almost non-existant! initially i think i'd like to get my
hands on a programmable microcontroller and try my hand at writing some
programs to control, say, a motor.
i've looked on the web and found the basicX, basic stamp and oopic.
which one of these would be recommended? i'm also keen to get into
visual basic, if this is appropriate for programming these controllers.
would the lego inventions be a good option? does the lego
microcontroller support visual basic?
The BasicX is a good, fairly easy-to-use-for-newbies controller, and supports a
VB-like language. The OOPIC is also a decent and easy to use device. The Stamp
is older, and has lot's of code (and great docs), but you will likely outgrow it
quickly -- I usually recommend that people avoid it these days, but others may
disagree. The Stamp's basic is not VB-like. The OOPIC allows you a choice of
syntaxes (vb-like, java-esque, or c++-ish), and everything is done over a nifty
If you really want to learn VB (and I'm not a big fan of VB, personally) there
may be better ways than go than using a microcontroller, as the implementations
are all vb-like, but not really vb.
Personally, I'd go for the OOPIC, with the BasicX a close second.
Hope that helps -- m
(Replies: cleanse my address of the Mark of the Beast!)
I'm not a big fan of any of these. I'm still pretty new to robotics,
but my more experienced colleagues have strongly recommended the Amtel
microcontrollers, which (among other advantages) have free, open-source
development tools that run on any platform. Pololu makes a couple of
very nice boards (at amazingly low cost!) based on these: the Orangutan
and Baby Orangutan. Check 'em out at <http://www.pololu.com/ .
I don't think you can directly program any microcontroller from VB, but
you *could* control something like a serial motor controller board (and
again, Pololu makes a good one at a very low price -- and no, I don't
work for them, I'm just a big fan!).
Yes, that's a great way to get started! The RCX controller is a decent
one that is almost impossible to kill through abuse, and there are a lot
of good programming options for it.
No, not AFAIK.
| Joseph J. Strout Check out the Mac Web Directory: |
| email@example.com http://www.macwebdir.com |
I have personally bought Basic Stamp, which I highly recommend for fun and
great resources, but have had more use using , Microchip PIC and recently
AVR. If you want to get professional experience in programming
microcontrollers-FORGET BASIC. One of my teachers said to forget BASIC for
professional development. Programming in BASIC is fine for enthusiasts,
however, C is the industry standard language for programming
AVR is DEFINITELY the cheapest option, and a good introduction to C
programming is a book found at www.smileymicros.com - using the *awesome*
AVR Butterfly. I am going through that book myself. Later I will probably
use the Butterfly on my first ( second overall ) AVR bot.
The Microchip PIC is the world's biggest selling microcontroller, and the
best value C compiler is the CCS C compiler, which can be integrated into
the free IDE from Microchip. According to EE Professor peter Anderson, this
is the best for value and functionality.
Yes! I would recommend this as the best overall robotics solution. Even
though there are relatively few inputs and outputs, it's a great little
processor and you can do a lot of stuff with it. Great components, heaps of
books available, can be programmed in 'pure' C, and derivations of C;
Interactive C, and Not Quite C, and you can make your own homebrew sensors.
Check out my (neglected) website for stuff on Lego Mindstorms, and for the
official FAQ for this News Group:
I have VB and it is a great way to create a GUI to any electronic
peripherals projects. If you don't want to spend any money on a VB ( or C# )
IDE and compiler check out www.sharpdevelop.net for a free VB compiler and
IDE ( actually for VB.NET ). It is a brilliant application for FREE, but
would be a larger learning curve, as MS VB has hundreds of books etc out
there. However, there is a helpful forum with SharpDevelop
By the way, get the earlier versions 1.0 or 1.5 of the Lego Mindstorms RCX
with the serial conection to the IR tower. It is cheaper used, and the
latest firmware can be downloaded any way. And it has a connection for a
AC-DC power pack which is great if you have a static project and saves
i second this about atmel AVR microcontrollers.. my uni seems to love
them as all of the courses use them. in the past PIC was the
microcontroller of choice, but has recently been replaced with AVR.
Joe Strout wrote:
PIC ( MicroChip ) is the largest sellor of MCU's .
I hate the instruction set . h/w is just too old fashioned .
I dont go near them , too much work to make them do
reallly big jobs .
I have Atmel . The 8515/35 has limited Prog mem ,
but being a clever Forth programmer , i put the code outside !
I'm going for the ARM to build a PDA or buy and write an OpSys for it
( less work huh ?)
The TI 430F133 is here in Asia for $50 .
The instruction set is the best ever !!!
Get as much CMOS ram as you can , for
its much lower power "on chip" than off .
My specialty is instruction sets .
The Intel P4 and AMD AXDA1800DUTC3 etc
are crap and they will die .
ARM will beat them out .
Polytechforum.com is a website by engineers for engineers. It is not affiliated with any of manufacturers or vendors discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.