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June 5, 2012
News - Enginursday: Radio Shack:…
about 10 months ago
As an aside, to this day I wonder about the oddball “Space-Age Integrated Circuit”. Was that thing ever used in anything else? By the time I was moving on to real components in the mid/late 70’s, everything was epoxy DIP packages. That abomination in the kit was more like discrete components with their cases removed, and then shellac'ed down onto a small white PCB. If I remember correctly, the projects that used the SAIC were the least successful of the lot.
Same here, I experienced the golden years of the mid-70’s to 80’s. One of the cub scout merit badges required that you build a crystal radio. The scout book, that bastion of up-to-date information, showed a hand-wound coil, a Galena crystal, and a “cat’s whisker”. Uh, yeah right.
So my parents bought RS’s crystal radio kit for me, with the more modern variable capacitor and diode rectifier design. I was hooked on that. I got the two-transistor radio kit, and then hungered for more.
Fortunately for me, when I prostrated myself asking for the smaller project kit (the 50-in-1) my parents had the good sense to realize that the 100-in-1 was the better value. So much to my delight I ended up with more than I asked for.
Thus began the life-long adventure…
They do seem to be a bit tone-deaf to the make-culture, though partly that seems to be due to the fact that the Edison hasn’t gotten its stride in whatever niche it is destined for. It’s a weird combo of the maker community not understanding the Edison, and Intel not understanding the maker community. For example. reading their PDF’s just screams “big, slow, lumbering company”.
I hope that gets resolved soon, and some momentum gets behind the hardware and software ecosystem. The former is miniscule, and from the little I’ve played with, the software situation is a bit half-baked right now. But if community support hits a critical mass, that could change really quickly. I hope so, because this is an inspiring piece of kit.
News - Can Soldering Help Therap…
about a year ago
My boys learned to solder when they were 4 or 5. For myself, the rare times I get to solder a kit together, it’s a nice way to relax. I explained it to my wife as “knitting, for geeks”.
about 2 years ago
Yes, but for what I’m doing, that’s a bigger sledgehammer than just providing regulated 5V.
In the light of “there’s always something missing” in the Arduino flavor that you want, why oh why don’t these things have an on-board regulator?
Sure, that may not be a problem for a lot of people, but for my application I need the USB port free as a communications input, not an always-connected power source.
Oh well, a solvable problem, just wish it wasn’t a problem to begin with.
Otherwise a very exciting board!
Finally these are back in stock. I hope more of this style of Arduino board are developed. Start with a “real” Arduino that is compatible with all the sketches and shields out there to take care of the raw hardware interfacing and realtime issues. Then attach that to a “real” processor that can do heavy lifting for computing and access to the real world via Ethernet/Wifi/USB. Sure, it’s possible for the ATMEGA to be networked, but it’s clear to me that it’s way more work than its worth for all but the most basic things.
I just attempted to do something with a Nano + Ethernet/SD setup, and damn was it painful. By the time you load Ethernet + SD libraries you have almost nothing left for program and data space. The W5100 is a toaster it gets so hot—heat sinks are on order in case I find something else to do with it. The Ethernet’s DHCP support blocks the entire sketch while it’s doing its thing. For this project I needed to be able to continually service the CDC port and can’t afford it to go dark for 60 seconds while DHCP times out. Oh, and you get the unique joy of managing your own MAC Addressing.
Contrast that to the Yun, where all of these problems are taken care of, yet doesn’t cost much more than a traditional Arduino plus Ether/SD. What was a very long, program/SRAM-busting sketch that took hours to work-almost-right becomes doable in a short shell script. So now that these are available again, I’m writing off the time on this particular project and just running it on a small network of Yuns. Can’t complain too much, I learned a lot, both in how the Arduino works and what it’s like to bump into its limits.
I’m not knocking the Arduino—I’ve just discovered them and am having a blast. There’s a ton of problems that fit within the Arduino’s capabilities. But coming from a long career in software (everything from apps to drivers to networks), my patience for doing things the hard way is thin at this point. Pairing the Arduino with a larger processor extends the reach of these things by an order of magnitude, and lets you solve the problem at hand in much less time.
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