I don’t want to be one of those people who whines about something they know nothing about so, as I mentioned in my last post, I bought an Arduino Pro Mini 328 - 5V/16MHz on-board USB -- by Sparkfun -- and mounted it on my board --the RAM-B II --for a break-out board I can plug my sensors and servo motors into directly. It turns out that the Pro Micro is pin-for-pin compatible with our motherboard which is nice since I manufacture the RAMB II.
SparkFun ATMega 32U4 based, Arduino clone on a Robodyssey RAMB II
As predicted, there are some housekeeping chores that need to be done to get a PC to talk to this thing, and I found myself recalling dos commands to get the bootloader working. It now recognizes the device but I am still getting an error when I try to download a program. I am confident that I will resolve my problem later tonight after I post this blog entry so I guess it wasn’t that difficult to get up and running.
Arduino has some very cool features. There are lots of ‘Shields’ available that allow users to assemble an Arduino to meet their specific needs. So far, I am only interested in using it to control the robots that I use to teach my program and I do like the ‘Shield’ (break-out board) with the controller. I do not yet know if Arduino has any advantage over either PIC16F876A or Netmedia’s Atmel based BX-24, the other two platforms I am currently using to teach the kids. I suspect that I will be able accomplish most, if not all of the tasks Arduino can tackle with either one of those controllers. Of course we have written the books for PIC and Basic-X and I know these books well but I have been looking at tutorials on Arduino’s home page and on Limor Fried’s page. My student’s learning comes first and I am looking at Arduino with an open mind.
Writing subroutines has been renamed, ‘Hacking’: Please correct me if I’m wrong but it seems like the Arduin-ites have added slick subroutines that do cool things and then explain how, but not so much why and call that level of programming ‘Hacking’. I thought that writing sub-routines was the next logical step after kids learn how to program events to occur line-by-line. I guess it’s just semantics and marketing – kids want to be ‘Hackers’ so we’ll tell them that ‘Hacking’ means learning to write code. When I think of ‘Hackers,’ I think of Johnny Pneumonic or Count Zero, but maybe that’s just me.
David Patterson, known for his pioneering research that led to RAID, clusters and more, is part of a team at UC Berkeley that recently made its RISC-V processor architecture an open source hardware offering. We talk with Patterson and one of his colleagues behind the effort about the opportunities they see, what new kinds of designs they hope to enable and what it means for today’s commercial processor giants such as Intel, ARM and Imagination Technologies.