AD - The 8-bit Arduinos really don't have enough capacity (in my opinion) to be of real value in commercial applications. There's too much overhead, both hardware and software and not enough memory left over to do much.
Recently, though, a number of 32 bit Arduino compatible boards have been released. With those boards, it's just another high level language with a relativbely low learning curve. These seem to be pretty capable devices.
but there are a lot of folks like mechanical engineers and non-engineers and even software developers,
In a previous e-converstaion we had, you had said the programming language was "C-like". How like? C is not a particularily easy language for even for technical people (or at least me) to start using. I have a friend (really!) whose son is took a course in theatre (scenery and lighting etc.) and he was using Arduino for some of it. Is he particularily talented (and I have felt that he did have a propensity for engineering) or can anybody pick it up?
@antedeluvian: I seem to have a bias against Arduino. It was originally aimed at amateurs- and I can't help wondering if is a bit on an insult to the kind of work that we do.
In th ecase of someone who works with microcontrollers all the time, the Arduino is a bit simplistic -- but there are a lot of folks like mechanical engineers and non-engineers and even software developers, for example, who aren't used to getting their hands dirty at the "pin twiddling" level -- for them, the Arduino platform can be a great introduction into the wonderful world of MCUs
@Caleb: Man, there are so many resources for learning how to use this thing, I don't even know where to start!
I know -- it's wonderful -- I only wish I'd had something like this available back in the late-1970s when I was starting to play with microprocessors. The young kids of today don't know how lucky they are (mutter mutter moan groan :-)
I seem to have a bias against Arduino. It was originally aimed at amateurs- and I can't help wondering if is a bit on an insult to the kind of work that we do.
Having said that, I have considered using an Arduino for some of our test jigs. Our test jigs are required to support products that can go for many, many years- I have stuff here that is over 20 years old. PCs age and stop working and replacing them is sometimes impossible. maybe dedicated hardware will last longer?
We also have a dearth of qualified people who may help in creating test jigs, so a large portion of an an engineer's time goes in designing (and sometimes maintaining) the test equipment. If we use Arduino, maybe we can "lower the bar". From your experience what do you think?