Thursday, February 4, 2016

@Make: Electronics Experiment 34 - Hardware Meets Software

I've been away from this book (Make: Electronics by +charles platt ) for a couple of months.  I have really enjoyed the experiments, and I had planned to finish the book by Christmas 2015 so I could start on the sequel (Make: More Electronics).  US Holidays, grandchildren, and my new interest in amateur radio have gotten in the way.

I opened the book again this week, and started to plan for Experiment 34.  I had been looking forward to it, because it offers the opportunity to mess with a different microcontroller, the PICAXE.  As you can see from other projects on this blog, I have been using +Arduino  for a lot of projects and I really like it. So, I have some experience with microcontrollers, and the software side is no problem--I've been programming for over 40 years in a variety of languages in a variety of environments.

When I got into this experiment, I ran into one of my irritations with the book: the parts lists do not always list all the parts.  In this case, it turns out that PICAXE needs a specific USB cable to upload code.  Not a problem, except that it costs US$20.  If I had seen that when I ordered the parts for this chapter,  would have ordered one.  Now, I'm at the point where I'm not sure if I would ever use PICAXE for any other projects. I have a bunch of Arduinos amd Arduino-like boards, mostly from  +Adafruit Industries, and I'm very happy with the IDE and available tutorials.  I think I would rather spend the money on the next book.

There IS one possibility here: I am looking at ways to make a PICAXE cable.  That might be a worthwhile learning endeavor. I'll look into that more deeply. If I do make a cable and get it to work, I'll do Experiments 34 and 35.  If not, I'll declare myself finished  with the book.  I had already decided to skip Experiment 36 ("The Lock, Revisted") because I don't really have a use for the lock and I think I understand everything Charles is teaching for it.

Give me a couple of weeks.  I'll post my decision then.