[amsat-bb] Re: Programming language recommendation?
ko6th_greg at hotmail.com
Mon Oct 6 22:33:39 PDT 2008
Wow, I had no idea these existed. The price certainly makes them very attractive, and it looks like some of the larger varieties have better I/O capabilities too (SPI, I2C), though I suspect some of the newer Stamps probably do too. I haven't poked around their site in a while.
My Az/El rotor controller uses the 24-pin Basic Stamp-II, which at ~$50 (still!) was easily the most expensive component in the whole project. But, it works well, and I had a lot of fun working with it. That was my second Stamp project (the first was a simple phone patch controller). See http://home.wavecable.com/~ko6th, near the top of the page. Links to a brief description of the rotor controller design and an old copy of the source code are there in the upper left box.
I'm a software engineer and project manager by profession, but it's all with embedded code - internals of operating systems, I/O drivers, protocol stacks, and stuff like that. I missed the GUI revolution (or more precisely, pre-dated it!), so my struggle right now is that I really want to write a nice mouse-driven front-end for my Yaesu 736R satellite rig to usably handle Doppler shift on the SSB/CW satellites, but I haven't figured out how to do it yet. I have the FM birds fully automated, but the CLI-based program I wrote for tracking frequency is horrible when you don't know before hand what frequency you'll be on.
I have a book on "C++ GUI programming with QT3" for Linux, but haven't been able to make much progress yet.... Next project, after finishing my GPS module add-on for my Kenwood TH-D7...
> Date: Mon, 6 Oct 2008 15:49:16 -0300
> From: ve9qrp at gmail.com
> To: ko6th_greg at hotmail.com
> Subject: Re: [amsat-bb] Re: Programming language recommendation?
> CC: gordonjcp at gjcp.net; amsat-bb at amsat.org
> On Sun, Oct 5, 2008 at 11:43 PM, Greg D. wrote:
>> Hi Bruce,
>> How does the Picaxe compare to the BASIC Stamp line from Parallax? I've built several Stamp projects, and they were very easy to deal with.
>> Greg KO6TH
> I believe they are quite similar in concept, but when I looked into
> these devices, the picaxe chips were much cheaper than the basic stamp
> ones. For instance, SparkFun has the 14-pin version for $4.
> It could be that since then Parallax have improved their low-end offerings.
> As one path for becoming familiar with this field, these chips have
> the advantage (over atmel and PIC) that much of the communication code
> being supported by built-in commands. SPI, I2C, serial, etc. can be
> explored with relative certainty that you're not going to mess things
> up. Of course, now that I know how things ought to work, I'm more
> confident to work with the atmel line. I suppose the disadvantage is
> that you learn a one-off programming language.
> I have found that the picaxe line are excellent for working with
> children, as well. They were, after all, designed for the educational
> market in the first place.
> A full comparison of these devices should probably also include the
> Arduino boards, which provide a standard platform, and might be best
> for those who do not want to get into soldering and breadboarding.
> Lest anyone think this has nothing to do with satellite work, let me
> add two points: first, I have prototyped some code for the picaxe 28X1
> that changes the values of digital pots in response to GS232 codes, in
> the manner of AA2TX's iRotor project.
> Second, I would love to see a really simple programmable device put
> into orbit aboard a cubesat so that Middle School kids could write
> programs here on earth, then submit them to the command station to be
> uploaded to the bird. It would be a simple matter of specifying the
> input signals for the device, say a couple of temperature sensors and
> a light sensor, duplicating those materials in kits on earth, then
> letting the kids write code that would produce telemetry or what have
> you. Since the picaxe project is simply PIC code, using it would be a
> matter of finding a space-hardened PIC of the proper kind and loading
> it with the company's interpreter. One could dedicate one part of the
> telemetry stream to the output of these students' programs.
> 73, Bruce
>>> Date: Sun, 5 Oct 2008 23:07:38 -0300
>>> From: ve9qrp at gmail.com
>>> To: gordonjcp at gjcp.net
>>> CC: amsat-bb at amsat.org
>>> Subject: [amsat-bb] Re: Programming language recommendation?
>>> I appreciate Gordon's expert opinion below. If you'd like something
>>> that is very, very simple to work with in order to explore the world
>>> of PIC programming, you should also consider the picaxe line of
>>> products. These comprise PIC chips with a basic interpreter on
>>> board. The wiring for the programmer is very simple, and the toolchain
>>> is easy because it removes the compiling stage.
>>> While I'm trying to move on to the atmel line, using this inexpensive
>>> I still find the picaxe chips dead handy for all sorts of little
>>> jobs because so much is built into them.
>>> As for computer programming, I would encourage someone returning to
>>> this practice to consider adding one of the cross-platform scripting
>>> languages to his or her arsenal. Ruby and Python are both good
>>> 73, Bruce
>>> On Sun, Oct 5, 2008 at 7:18 AM, Gordon JC Pearce MM3YEQ
>>>> JW wrote:
>>>>> Along the same line: anyone on here doing PIC programming or know of a
>>>>> list for beginners? From CW keyers to Antenna control units and
>>>>> everything in between it looks like it would be fun to program some
>>>>> gadgets for around the shack...
>>>> Without lighting up a PIC/AVR flamewar, I've pretty much entirely moved
>>>> from PIC to AVR. The hardware is generally two to four times faster for
>>>> the same clock rate (gets more done per cycle) and is easier to program
>>>> - you can make up an AVR programmer for the parallel port that's
>>>> basically three resistors!
>>>> Furthermore, the toolchain is much better for AVR - Microchip are only
>>>> interested in pushing their frankly dreadful Windows-only MPLAB
>>>> software, while Atmel actively contribute to avr-gcc, a cross-platform
>>>> toolchain based on the industry standard gcc. The whole AVR community
>>>> seems a lot better than the PIC one, and I say that as a long-standing
>>>> user of PIC microcontrollers.
>>>> In short, PIC is great, but the community isn't as strong and the tools
>>>> are rubbish. On the other hand, Microchip are always more than happy to
>>>> sample parts and their customer support is *excellent*.
>>>> AVR is technically superior in pretty much every way, with an excellent
>>>> community. Unfortunately Atmel's tech support are a dour bunch who are
>>>> often hard to get good information out of, and not great at sending samples.
>>>> I haven't tried the ARM-based AVRs or the MIPS-based PICs yet, though.
>>>> Those might be something to tempt me back to Microchip, if MIPS is as
>>>> good as I remember it ;-)
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