It depends upon your skill set. You have to tell us more about
what you can and can not do before any really credible answer can
be posted. In general, Parallax excels at documentation. If good
documentation is what will determine whether you succeed or fail,
Parallax is the way to go. If performance is your problem area,
the Arduino Nano (basically an Atmel 168 with a boot loader) can
deliver more performance. In the end, it depends upon what your
I am not familiar with DC linear actuators, but I suspect
that they are kind of similar to stepper motors. If so, you
probably have to ramp them up and down in step rate to get any
sort of decent performance. If so, I'd pick the Arduino over
the Basic Stamp II. You will have a much greater control over
your timing with the Arduino than with the BS2.
Arduino is a AVR ATmega168 with 16K bytes of program memory
and 1K of data RAM. It has been preprogrammed with a boot
loader that allows programs to be downloaded to it via a
USB connection to a host computer (PC, Mac, Linux, etc.)
I'm pretty sure that they use some version of Intel .hex
file format, but do not quote me on that; I could be wrong.
Unlike the Basic Stamp II, there a several programming languages
available for the AVR instruction set. The most commonly used
are assembly and the GCC ANSI-C compiler. Both are free.
There is at least Basic compiler for the AVR available from
BASCOM (not free) and there me be others that I am unfamiliar
with. In general, people who are new to embedded systems tend
to find basic easier to program in than ANSI-C. However, the
work horse of embedded systems is ANSI-C. Pretty much every
major micro-controller family out there has some sort of ANSI-C
compiler. (The compiler could be free or it could cost money,
it varies from vendor to vendor.)
For people who expect to be doing numerous projects using
microcontrollers, it is hard not to recommend that they
learn ANSI-C. If your goal is to do just this one project
and then do something else, well it might make sense to skip
ANSI-C, buy the basic compiler and be done with it.
I hope this helps,
--I love the Stamp. Best manual was what tipped me in that direction
and why I've stayed with it. There's a good forum at Parallax too. Started a
Stamp group on tribe.net myself but traffic is pretty low..
"Steamboat Ed" Haas : Imagine what I could do if
Hacking the Trailing Edge! : I knew what I was doing...
The Basic Stamp is an somewhat dated hardware device with excellent
documentation, including multiple easy-to-understand books,
and a large user community. It's popular with hobbyists, but
hasn't been used much professionally since the 1980s. Performance
is rather low.
The "Arduino" is an Atmel ATMega 128 industrial microcontroller with a
somewhat user-friendly programming environment using a subset of
C. You don't have to use that programming environment; Atmel offers
full GCC support, including C++, and the programming hardware is simple;
just a cable. But it's not as "user-friendly" as Arduino.
There are also a range of Atmel controllers with varying amounts of
flash memory and RAM, so there's an upgrade path if needed. Also, there
are many ATMega boards available that don't use the "Arduino" form factor.
If what you need to do can be accomplished with a single board, rather
than stacking Auduino family I/O boards, a single-board solution is
usually easier to work with.
Full software development environments are available for free for
I'm looking for a controller to replace my 'really' old design
(MC6811E2) with the more powerful MCU's of today, (I have been out of
touch with this group for about 10 years and am finally getting back
into my dream of building a domestic-robot).
I have looked at the Atmel as a good choice, but now comes the real
question - how would you guys rate the IDE's of the various offerings
using the 168 MCU ?
I prefer C as the language of choice, but hate having deal with
command line syntax (I got away from that 30 yrs ago - egad! How
times flies), but I don't want to deal with the MSvisual crap :-(
I just downloaded the Arduino windoze version and will check it out.
Thanks in advance,
PI Robotics Research
Formerly associated with the Robot Society of Southern Cal
Co-founder and past pres.
You probably want to sign up for some other mail groups like
Home Brew Robotics (HBRC), Seattle Robotics Society (SRS),
Dallas Personal Robotics Group (DPRG).
I would also recommend signing up for at least Servo Magazine.
Nuts & Volts, Robot, and Circuit Cellar are magazines are that
other Robotic hobbyists sign up for. If you are a member of
IEEE (expensive), consider signing up for the Robotics and
I'm a command line kind of guy. make + EMACS + gcc + avrdude +
AVRDragon and I'm good to go. The August and September 2008
issues of Servo discuss using the AVR tool chain under Eclipse.
These are in the Ask Mr. Roboto section now edited by Dennis Clark.
The good news is that AVR GCC is the GCC compiler with a C back-end.
Writing C code works like a charm. C++ code is possible, but it
takes a bit of effort to cram the C++ run-time libraries into the
small AVR cores.
Tell us how it all works out.
Also have a look at the USB Bit Wacker. Lots of info there:
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