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Author Topic: [1st Post] Arduino or Phidgets  (Read 1525 times)
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Hello everyone,

I am a totally newbye in programming µP so be "kind" with my st...p questions is there are any  smiley-roll

I am investigating as I want to learn and meantime teach my 2 boys (12 and 14) the joy of using a computer for something else than "Shooting games".

I have knowledge in programming (no C but I started to read courses on the net and it doesn't seem very complicated thought) in various languages. However I'd like to concentrate on RealBasic (an OOP crossplatform BASIC) as I think it will be the best choice for the kids (very easy to learn).

My aim is to have them write in a first time, the code that will be on the computer. I will hide the µP (C alike) as I don't want them to get frustrated to start with.


Now, here is my question :

I found Phidgets and Arduino to look like there is plenty for me to use.

However, Phidgets are strictly non-wireless, more expensive and the choice of sensors/peripherals very limited.

On the other side, Arduino seems to be illimited in ressources, peripherals/sensors, cheap but I am afraid that for every little project I will have to dig into electronic wiring, soldering... and I am not an electonician.

What is your opinion, even thought you are Arduino guys  smiley-wink

TIA
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Wigan, UK
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Never heard of the phidget but I come from a similar background.  The nearest I'd come to fiddling around with electronics before I started with the arduino was soldering a small LCD display to plug in to the parallel port of my PC (and that was really tricky for me at the time).

Since a lot of components are well documented it's pretty easy to get stuff to work without a lot of effort, especially when it comes to shields.  There's bucketloads of stuff that works out of the box using the examples in the appropriate library, and there are plenty of things that don't need soldering (if you use a breadboard).

For example, you can get an LCD with the header soldered on, plug it in to a breadboard and follow the very clearly written tutorial on adafruit.  It's great getting it working, there's quite a few connections and a potentiometer, so you feel like you've achieved something and the output isn't just a blinking light, it's words on a screen.

The ethernet shield and the TV shield (from batsocks) are both really easy to use.  I bought a TV shield recently and had it working within five minutes of it coming out of the box. It's very simple to use and has vast potential. 

Difficulty comes when you're trying to use something that you haven't found clear documentation for, but that can be avoided by checking for howtos before you purchase.

As I said, I can't comment on the phidget but I don't think you should rule out the arduino.  Plus, when you're all more confident with the hardware you can do some really impressive stuff.

If you do go for an arduino, I'd recommend the starter kit from oomlout.co.uk - it's what I started with.
Also, MC Mike's Biginning Arduino is a fantastic starter book, well worth getting (there's a thread about it in Products and Services).
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Vejen, Denmark
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Never heard of the phidget but I come from a similar background.  The nearest I'd come to fiddling around with electronics before I started with the arduino was soldering a small LCD display to plug in to the parallel port of my PC (and that was really tricky for me at the time).
haha, that was almost there I started too smiley-grin I started with 8 leds and resistors soldered on, and then had a program to turn them on and off. Later I then wanted to put an LCD display on instead, and sheees, the wires must be in the right order... what is up and what is down? where is pin 1? AAARGH it needs a pot too!!!!  smiley-yell
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Thanks for the answers.

I think I will tinker with Arduino, but however, I'll try the Phidget for a specific project I have in mind (RFID In and Out of a building registering with a Database behind) as I think it will be much easier to work with the later components as they have a plugin to work straigth with FileMaker.

But I will also start a Temperature/Hygrometry Station as a learning project with my boys.

BTW, I found a good site having inventory of Arduino Shields (http://shieldlist.org), don't know if you know it but it looks very usefull.
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