Saturday, December 31, 2011

Moving On to New Challenges

I look back on 2011 as a great success! Building 6 robots, making new friends, showing off our collective skills in some competitions. After all of that work is has been good to be on vacation.

I have been a busy circuiteer this vacation (I hope Apple doesn't sue me for building an 'I Stand')!
(A stick with an alligator clip to hold my FET sensor). Using a LCD with the PICAXE has been more useful than I thought; it is nice to get telemetry without the debug screen. I have been trying to improve my static field detector to self calibrate and to adjust to changing atmospheric conditions (when the air gets dry, by basic system goes into constant alarm because the floor level of static energy is high).

I have also revisited the FEZ Domino (have not ordered the FEZ Panda II yet); have repeated most all of the exercises in the FEZ Tutorial (though I still hardly understand object-oriented blah blah (OO). Getting C# to do basic things is not too hard; the leap here is combining a lot of basic things into a real-world embedded project with classes, inheritance, etc. Controlling LEDs, relays, LCD, is a piece of cake. The payoff for trudging through this is to acquire new capabilities like reading and writing to a RAM stick, connecting to networks and making an internet appliance.

I have ordered several Texas Instruments (TI) Launch Pad kits. That exercise in ANSI C will be all about manipulating the registers to get the outputs we want. The TI guide for the Launch Pad has what I was missing a year ago when I first tried to master the MSP430 processor: a guide to set up the A/D converters. If I overcome the novice challenges, I can than make use of my other TI modules (and my fancy wristwatch) (I have wireless sensors and a couple of USB development tools that have been accumulated over the years. My watch has an accelerometer, temperature sensor, barometer and wireless link).

I will be creating new blogs for each of these endeavors (committed to open source).

Please keep me updated on your projects as well.


New Horizon 2012 with FEZ Panda II [Link]

2012 Detour with Texas Instruments MSP430
My real and previously stated goal for the year is to master the FEZ and C#; but I am considering an intermediate step for a couple of months and taking a wack at the Texas Instruments (TI) MSP430 which programs in ANSI C. It follows a logical progression of programing skill; begining with BASIC, then C, then C#. The financial commitment FEZ requires is $39-$140; TI offers a MSP430 starter kit for under $6. I have played with other TI MSP430 chips, and I can at least flash an LED. I would like to see just how different it would be to repeat some of the things we did with the PICAXE (less the robots) using C (i.e. motor control, PWM, RS-232, etc.) A refresher with C will help with the C#.
Anybody else want to take a stab at this with me? Together, (combining our experience and intellect) we can go a lot farther than 'flashing a LED' (as far as I got so far).
LaunchPad Kit [Link]