For hobby stuff, the Parallax stamp is kinda pricey, but there is excellent support in the online discussion forums they host, free downloadable books on robotics, microcontrollers, and electronics. Basically, no one can match them for the amount of support resources for beginners. As the Parallax programming software is free, and you don't need to buy an extra hardware programmer to download your code to a chip I guess that simplifies things.
If you want to learn industry "standard" then you could buy some PICmicros ( or get free samples from www.microchip.com ) and use one of the excellent free evaluation compilers from www.mikroelektronika.co.yu , they have free evaluation ( limited to 2k words ) C compiler for PICs. Watch this company, they have a cult following. This site also has excellent discussion forums, and some free online books, and on PIC hardware functions and assembly programming ( they also have BASIC and Pascal compilers ).
However, there is limited resources for beginners for C robotics in the form of a book. The authors of CCS C compiler have a robotics kit, but it is expensive.
If you want to learn industry standard, forget BASIC As my engineering teacher said today, BASIC for PICs is for 12 year old kids - it's not used in the real world of engineering - C is the standard.
You could also subscribe to "Servo" magazine, which deals in amateur robotics ( go to the Nuts 'n' Volts magazine site and look for a link ).
I am just learning too, so the journey is as enjoyable as the destination.
If you like BASIC programming and using PICs for robotics, go to Amazon.com and look at some robotics books Insectronics, Amphibionics, Build Your Own Humanoid Robots, PIC Robotics. The only problem with these is you need to fork out hundreds of dollars to buy PICBASIC Pro compiler, and have to buy a separate IDE. If you plan to go this way - scrap PICBASIC Pro and get the Proton+ compiler instead, it is much more powerful, is very similar to PICBASIC Pro, has free yearly updates, and you should be able to port the code from the books to Proton+ after some time.
An alternative is to buy a Lego Mindstorms kit, which can be programmed in C or dialects of it ( as well as Java, Forth, Visual/BASIC or even assembly if you like). They are lots of fun, and there are lots of good books on Lego robotics that use C and C-like programming, and the programming environments etc are for free on the 'net. You can build some serious robots using mindstorms, and it has quite a good processor.
wrote:<BR>> <BR>> > Been playing with BEAM robotics, however I'm a
software guy. I'm<BR>> > working on hardware for small 4 leg/8 motor
walkers. New to this<BR>> > microcontroller thing. Have programmer in
BASIC/QBASIC/ASP and small<BR>> > ammounts of C. Is a STAMP controller the
standard?<BR>> <BR>> not -the- standard, but a standard, you could fit
just about any of the <BR>> thousands of different kinds of embeddable
microcontrollers into a robot <BR>> design.<BR>> <BR>> > And
is it compatible with a mac/unix computer?<BR>> <BR>> if there's a cross
compiler and a serial port, it's compatible, sometimes <BR>> parallel
port, but itygtp.<BR>> <BR>> > Can someone lead me in the right
direction to<BR>> > learning about microcontrollers?? Thanks in
advance!<BR>> <BR>> one of the better places to learn about
microcontrollers is the <BR>> manufacturers, they usually have pdf's on
their site that give the package <BR>> dimensions, the pinouts, things
to be wary of, design guidlines, special <BR>> programming
considerations. they have just about everything you need to <BR>>
know for building things, except, an idea what to build, but some also
<BR>> include ideas of what to build. the maufacturers will often
provide <BR>> reference designs which you can change to suit your
needs, there's many <BR>> sites with info on how a general
microcontroller interfaces, whole worlds <BR>> within worlds.<BR>>
now, siphoning off the useful bits, there's a bit of trouble, but you can
<BR>> start by figuring out what kind and number of io's you will need,
after <BR>> that you can find processors like pics that have a broad
range of types <BR>> and numbers. pics come in packages that are
8 pins through 40, and more. <BR>> for a basic robot you can get
by with 2-3 digital io's and get fancy with <BR>> a pair of adc's, all
built into a pic. for more serious stuff you might <BR>> even do
avr's and 8052's. there's an 8052 available premasked with basic,
<BR>> it most likely won't do well in a robot, but as a terminal for it,
ya, <BR>> maybe.<BR>> <BR>> -- <BR>> Using Opera's
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