Classroom setting: Arduino vs. BasicStamp Board

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Classroom setting: Arduino vs. BasicStamp Board

Postby SciCenter » Tue Mar 08, 2011 8:30 pm

I'm associated with high school science centers in remote locations. In order to extend the curriculum to include an introductory course on microcontrollers, we are deciding between the BasicStamp Board of Education and the Arduino Uno.

Either choice has advantages/disadvantages. The Arduino is great in a hobbyist setting, but much less useful in a classroom setting. The Arduino configuration is either a messy wired situation or a unassembled tieboard shield, whereas the BasicStamp has a built-in tieboard for easy prototyping. We're talking a quantity of 100, far more Arduino shields than I can solder/assemble. Also, I worry that the shield connections won't stand up to the wear&tear of middle- and high-school students.

Though the BasicStamp runs very slowly, its native Basic interpreter provides a simple language, ease of operation, and transparent debugging.

Your thoughts appreciated.
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Re: Classroom setting: Arduino vs. BasicStamp Board

Postby westfw » Wed Mar 09, 2011 2:44 am

I would think that an Arduino would offer an experience more compatible with "modern software principles."

Is it really true that no one offers an assembled protoshield, or board similar to the BoE? That's sort of sad :-(
And no one has copied the "all in one" idea from BoE, either. (how about http://www.cutedigi.com/product_info.ph ... ts_id=4262 - still requires that you add the protoboard, but the soldering is all done. "old style", though.) (or you could just stick an Arduino Nano or BoArduino in a larger protoboard...)

I worry that the shield connections won't stand up to the wear&tear of middle- and high-school students.

A valid concern, but the shield would basically stay connected all the time, leaving you with essentially the same connectors that are on BoE.

It looks like Arduino would come out relatively significantly cheaper. ($30 + 15 + 5 vs $99 ?)

The Arduino would provide a MUCH cheaper path that led to "permanent" projects, and more flexibility toward semi-permanent projects (via existing shields.)

I've used both a Stamp (v1, though) and Arduino. I don't recall the ease of operation or debugging being significantly better (or even different) than the Arduino environment. It might have changed since then.

Arduino is multi-platform on the host side (may not matter.)

To make a good class into an excellent class, you should get some of both, and compare them. Or at least a couple of the non-chosen system for the enthusiasts to look at. (IMO, of course.)
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Re: Classroom setting: Arduino vs. BasicStamp Board

Postby Grimfox » Fri Mar 11, 2011 6:47 am

I've not used the stamp before but I really wish they had started us on something simpler like the arduino rather than throwing straight C and an ATmega16 at us. I've nothing wrong with those but dipping your toes into a system that is a little easier to understand is much better than learning to swim in the ocean. I don't know what the online references look like for stamp but usually the arduino stuff is pretty easy to figure out.

my 2cents.
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Re: Classroom setting: Arduino vs. BasicStamp Board

Postby coyote20000 » Fri Mar 11, 2011 8:12 am

If I had to decide, I would go with a promini. (i think)

Pros:
Works well with protoboards.
C programming.

Downside:
Solder connectors
No barrel jack
Needs ftdi converter
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Re: Classroom setting: Arduino vs. BasicStamp Board

Postby stevech » Fri Mar 11, 2011 5:53 pm

Spaghetti-BASIC is a terrible thing to use as a teaching tool.
Structured BASIC, done right, can be OK.
Even in primary education.
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Re: Classroom setting: Arduino vs. BasicStamp Board

Postby falconphysics » Sun Mar 13, 2011 5:32 am

I had to make a similar decision a few years ago. I was also looking at PICAXE as well as Arduino and Basic Stamp at the time. I settled on Arduino and have been using it since 2008.

You can find my one semester high school level course at http://electronics.flosscience.com/ (formerly arduinoeducation.com). The students really love the Arduino. The hobby diy nature is one of the major strengths of the platform.

I literally knew nothing about microcontrollers and very little programming when I started teaching with the Arduino. Even today, I still act as if I don't know much. If a student wants to do something I haven't created a lesson for I send them to the internet to figure it out. Then they have to teach me and/or interested classmates.

As to the messiness of wires everywhere... Again, I think this is a strength. How often will someone prototyping something in the real world have a nice compact cleanly packaged item to work with (actually, I have no idea, this might be common). It also gives students more chances to troubleshoot problems.

Anyway, if you have any questions, just let me know. For the record I use the Bare-Bones Board from moderndevice.com they seat nicely in a breadboard.

One last Shameless plug - I have a Kickstarter project going right now to fund the creation of a high school text to support teaching Arduino. Just look in the sidebar of my site http://electronics.flosscience.com/ for more information.

Steve Dickie
Divine Child High School
Dearborn, MI
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Re: Classroom setting: Arduino vs. BasicStamp Board

Postby stevech » Sun Mar 13, 2011 10:52 pm

SciCenter wrote:Though the BasicStamp runs very slowly, its native Basic interpreter provides a simple language, ease of operation, and transparent debugging.

Your thoughts appreciated.

I think it's terrible to introduce young students to, and imprint upon them, using Spaghetti BASIC. Teaches hard to undo habits and style.

At least Arduino is 1st cousin to C++, the industry standard (read: Jobs).

Another good learning platform is mbed and it uses the microprocessor for the future: ARM Cortex, though the underlying microprocessor is abstracted away, in the main, in all three examples here. Except for a little I/O.

Be aware too of ZBasic.net; properly structured BASIC can be a good teaching tool. Don't let them just hack. Must design first.
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Re: Classroom setting: Arduino vs. BasicStamp Board

Postby rmteo1 » Mon Mar 14, 2011 9:05 am

A modern BASIC compiler that is highly structured with a nice IDE is mikroBASIC - available for 8, 16 and 32-bit PICs.

Image
Why use 8 bits when you can have 32?
ARM CORTEX Rules!!! :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
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Re: Classroom setting: Arduino vs. BasicStamp Board

Postby motopic » Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:58 am

mikroBasic (and the mikroC) are pretty nice products, but not without bugs.
His biggest problem is going to be the $$$ hardware needed, $20-30 board + pic chip (and everything pic is $$)

Another nice BASIC choice is Coridiumcorp.com, an arm processor, they provide a BASIC and IDE etc., but its $50 per unit.

USnooBie($16) - arduino with softUSB stack simply plugs into a usb port - fire up the Arduino IDE(free) and go to work.
add in a breadboard $5-10, and a few parts and you are $30 per seat.
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Re: Classroom setting: Arduino vs. BasicStamp Board

Postby rmteo1 » Mon Mar 14, 2011 11:17 am

motopic wrote:mikroBasic (and the mikroC) are pretty nice products, but not without bugs.
His biggest problem is going to be the $$$ hardware needed, $20-30 board + pic chip (and everything pic is $$)

Just pointing out that not all BASICs will result in spaghetti code.

If cost is the ONLY issue, then nothing comes close to the ST VLDiscovery. For less than $12 you get a complete hardware/software tool suite that includes:
a. unlimited C compiler.
b. IDE (Eclipse based) with integrated source level breakpoint debugger (something not available with Arduino, mBED and most all BASICs)
c. Development board with 32-bit ARM Cortex-M3 processor, 128K FLASH, 16K RAM, 64-pin TQFP, every pin available on 0.1in. headers.
d. USB programmer/debugger integrated into the development board.

Image
Why use 8 bits when you can have 32?
ARM CORTEX Rules!!! :mrgreen: :mrgreen: :mrgreen:
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Re: Classroom setting: Arduino vs. BasicStamp Board

Postby robo.spark » Mon Mar 14, 2011 3:35 pm

Hi,

I'm looking for the same information .. to introduce nice system to students in afterschool class.
Due to wide popularity of Arduino and student interests, probably I'll stick to it.

I'm also considering other options as well for the future. Few months back a Taiwan based company introduced me to Innovati and their products. They use modifiedVB. Looks like another Pbasic kind of...
However, I liked the peripheral modules which seems to be something that Parallax do not have it. Not sure, if I'm right. The whole system was quite fast as the modules had MCU's on them. One of the project that they showed me was a face recognition humanoid which was amazing! High end though..

If anyone has some opinion or used their products please provide me your feedback.

Thanks,
Robospark
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Re: Classroom setting: Arduino vs. BasicStamp Board

Postby stevech » Mon Mar 14, 2011 8:40 pm

mikroBasic (and the mikroC) are pretty nice products, but not without bugs.

A great understatement!
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Re: Classroom setting: Arduino vs. BasicStamp Board

Postby stevech » Mon Mar 14, 2011 8:41 pm

robo.spark wrote:If anyone has some opinion or used their products please provide me your feedback.

Thanks,
Robospark

Question is: are you teaching future EE or CS majors?
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Re: Classroom setting: Arduino vs. BasicStamp Board

Postby westfw » Mon Mar 14, 2011 10:32 pm

His biggest problem is going to be the $$$ hardware needed, $20-30 board + pic chip (and everything pic is $$)

huh? The Parallax "Board of Education" he was talking about using is about $100, and "budget" wasn't one of the things he claimed to be worried about. (The main problems seems to be getting something that is "ready to use" rather than something that needs additional assembly.) (Of course, since it hasn't shown up again yet, perhaps he was just a troll ...)
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Re: Classroom setting: Arduino vs. BasicStamp Board

Postby monk » Fri Mar 18, 2011 1:43 am

The advantages of Arduino that I see are:

* Open source hardware with many good book, starter kits and Internet resources for students wanting to take it further
* C for programming - a more useful language to know
* Screw shield - could be left in place to minimise the need for soldering
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