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Stamp or Arduino or Prop or...

I'll bet I hear 2/week the question of why STAMP and not Arduino. I've started to hear it now with Prop & Arduino. A small point is that Prop is a chip and Arduino a board, so technically it is the Prop Activity Board compared to Arduino. A large point is that these are two tools out of many so they co-exist. But we do, in the end, have to spec one platform to use for a class.

Most instructors will just go with what they already know because it is expensive in time and intellectual bandwidth to learn new platforms or languages. I've taught classes with both STAMP and Arduino plus studied Prop, so I think I have an opinion that is not based on inertia. I prefer to teach with Parallax, mainly because the teaching materials are better. There are materials for Arduino, but they are more cookbooks and not, in my experience, a curriculum as what I need in the classroom. Second, PBASIC is very simple. Some of my students have no programming background and it can be tough to get the braces and semicolons correct. To be selfish, I spend less time troubleshooting students' PBASIC code than I have to with other platforms. 

Now, for Prop and Arduino. I think Prop is the better route because I think 5 years out multi-cog will be a better solution than interrupts. And I believe Parallax will continue to produce great curricula and provide exceptional service.

I have boiled this down to a few sentences which explain the topic within what students understands after 2 meetings of WAM. I understand this is not completely right but it is an understandable answer which is not far from the truth. This explanation relies on them having tried (and usually failed) the Exercise-ThreeFlashingLights.aspx

Why not Arduino? - A simple answer

  1. As you can see from studying servos, uCons have to interface peripherals at very specific times...

  2. You will want to add sensors, recorders, more outputs, etc., many of which will have their own specific time requirements. 

  3. When you have to exactly hit all those timings it becomes very hard. Recall your exercise Exercise-ThreeFlashingLights.aspx

  4. The Propeller is different - there are 8 microcontrollers inside one chip.

  5. Each one can be given the job of performing one timed interface so working with 8 devices at once is no harder than controlling one servo

  6. The 8 microcontrollers can talk with each other inside the chip for the high-level coordination

  7. Learning to work with Arduino or STAMP is fine, but if you plan to keep studying you are going to move to a Propeller anyhow so why not start with it?