Member #430885

Member Since: April 20, 2013

Country: United States

  • Propeller is good choice when doing lots of tasks at once: set each of eight cores doing a few tasks and don't worry about interrupts or other timing problems. Use C language and there is a good tutorial. Lots of objects/libraries for motor control, GPS, comm with other chips, etc. good fast tutorial:

  • I teach adults, some retired from the Navy. They had some pretty salty comments last month about trying to use the red breadboard. When will we know that kits we order (I need 15) will ship with white breadboard?

    Two small suggestions: On web page for #1127 (old ver) add note that out of stock is because EOL and include link to the product you want to sell. As soon as shipping, revise product photo to show white breadboard.

    And for the next revision, if price goes over $100 then sell as a basic kit around $70 and an add-on pack for another $50. I start to get blow-back at about $80-90 for the kit for first-timers. But once they take the intro course they are gung-ho to buy more & take more classes.

    Much thanks for your effort to not just sell a bag of parts but to help instructors organize a class.

    • John


  • I just finished using this kit for an intro course for adults. I'm coming from another uCon platform.

    Feedback from students:-------------------------------------------------

    Nice mix of sensors and they are high quality

    Material covered in guide is a good selection of the core commands.

    Price was fine, $100 seemed to be the perceived point of becoming expensive.

    Red plastic breadboard is impossible (I heard this about three times per meeting). I was stuck handing out white breadboards from my pocket.

    For buzzer, the software has 2 pair of synchronized arrays. One represents the notes of the song to be played and the other the notes of the scale for look-up of letter to frequency. It was confusing. Second one would be a good place to introduce the switch command.

    Printed guide has several problems in design: - page numbers are printed white on light gray - code for discussion is printed as yellow on white. Both of these are considered by professional designers as the most difficult to read of all combinations. - not all pages are numbered

    The code for the soft pot that creates rainbow is not well explained. The objective is clear but not the math.

    The overhead drawings do not add much, given that the Fritz is so clear. In some overheads parts are obscured and in one the graphics software left the jumper looking like it went to the wrong place. Use that space instead to make the intro text large enough to read.

    I noticed a lot of students did not use the printed guide because the PDF was so much easier to zoom.

    (I told them to disconnect power when changing hardware.) It is tedious to unplug USB then replug and check for com port. The alternate to pull jumper from Arduino 5v to bb is also a drag. It would be great to have some kind of slide or toggle switch to mount to the base that would cut the power between Arduino and bb.

    The jumpers from Arduino to bb rails for 5v and ground are always red and black. But also, as much as possible, jumpers from components to the bb rails 5v & gnd should be red and black to emphasize that at this point the circuit is now grounded. (I understand the advantage of having a different color for every jumper to make the direction more clear, so I could go either way on this one.)

    Code is verbose with comments and thus hard to follow the commands. (this may be my fault - is there a show/hide comments option like in Eclipse?). An alternate set of sketches that are minimum comments would be useful. (I made these and can share.)

    And I'll add a few: ====================================================== When there are independent circuits (connected only by software) it would be better to have a schematic where they are drawn completely independent, not sharing a ground. Not being real experienced with schematics, some students saw all components connected in the schematic and did not always get that the output (LEDS) were only connected through software to the control circuit (relay or transistor). Keeping the two circuits physically as far apart as possible on the bb would help to lock in the idea.

    It would be a big help to have a section at end of each project with a few additional modifications or exercises to keep busy the quicker students (I had technicians and EEs in the class). I made up some exercises but I would feel more sure if the solutions had been checked by a more experienced coder and tested by several other instructors. Similarly, it would be great to have a page at the end with a dozen brief descriptions of integrated projects to try; the solutions could be somewhere on-line and even include pointers to related SparkFun products. One of the ways to keep everyone happy is to have lots of exercises at different levels.

    It would be great to have a level 2 packaged w/guide. Students were asking about: LCD display, SD holder, EEPROM, prototype shield, PING, real time clock, 7 seg display, accelerometer, motion detector, darlington, stepper motor and digital pot. I'd like to see concepts of communications (SPI, I2C,parallel), organizing data for logging (2D arrays), more complex output to SerMon (graphs), working with shields. Sounds like maybe a Level 3 is in there. Many students asked about way to play real sound (MP3, WAV) to real speakers.

    The SIK replacement parts kit is a great idea, but should have all the parts except Arduino, base, bb and jumpers. A relay didn't work and a few parts were lost. I felt sort of responsible and replaced from my parts.

    I had to explain the abbreviation on the back cover of the guide.

    Next class is in a few weeks and I will probably have more student feedback. In the meantime you can see the website for the course here:

    I know this is SparkFun site, but I am scheduled to teach this course a half dozen times and will probably try some other brand's kits before final selection for ongoing sessions. There may be ideas there that can be brought into the SIK.

    I'll keep reporting back with new experiences.

    • John
  • Question on input for this item

    Can I hook this input directly to a pin & ground of a BASIC STAMP or Arduino to use with the Freq generator that normally powers a peizo?

    Some of my adult students are hard-of-hearing and this would be great for them.


No public wish lists :(