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Topic: Arduino Interest in Toronto or Waterloo, Ontario (Read 20 times) previous topic - next topic


lol you don't have to convince me. i completely agree that the arduino is the best board for beginners on the market. However, I'm in a Mechatronics Engineering Program, where most people want to dwell more into the architecture of the chip. Almost all my peers know how to write PIC Assembly and C and can put together an inline programming circuit very quickly that can be programmed using CC5X or someother compiler. So telling them they can get going for 50 bucks, will result in most of them shaking their heads at me and showing me a solution they can whip together for spare parts and the 5-10 dollar price of a PIC

The reason why I have taken such a linking to the PIC is the educational value at a much lower level. I can get my high school sister, who has trouble doing complicated tasks on the computer, excited about lighting an LED in 10 seconds, and have her doing minor programs within an hour; all without having to know what ports, interupts, etc are.

This is also the reason why I want to start the group. I like the idea that people can give their ideas an Arduino "brain" and get prototyping right away, instead of worrying about everything underneath it. It will be fun to have a group of poeple with various ideas and designs and getting to work with them right away.


I went to UWaterloo and like in Toronto now.

I used to write PIC assembly, and I find the Arduino platform is far surperior.  I think your cost arguement doesn't really work, you can build a bare ATmega168 board and a programmer out of spare parts just as easily as for the PIC.

PIC lacks a simple development platform like the gcc compliler for AVR.  I've been burned too many times by my knowledge becomming obsolete.  Moving from the 16F to 18F architecture was like starting from scratch.


I didn't consider the breadboard Arduino I do admit, but I also didn't consider sampling parts. If you go through the ECE department at Waterloo, you can get PICs for free due to an agreement they have with Microchip (the same way we get Microsoft products for free). Its basicly like sampling from Microchip but without the 3 part limitation and delivery is free and within the week.

And the 16F to 18F are completely different architectures, so many things changed. It was like moving from VB6 to VB.NET. And I'm guessing this would be the same moving from Mega to a higher family.

Sure the gcc library is key, I would say this is the PICs worse point, however CC5X and CC8X are not bad alternatives at all. It gets you away from righting horrendous PIC assembly and is fairly streamlined.

All this being said I do enjoy the Arduino platform better, its simplicity and ease of use has me smitten. And due to this factor alone, I will agree with you and say I too find the Aduino platform more enjoyable and, for my needs, superior.


Feb 03, 2009, 02:53 pm Last Edit: Feb 03, 2009, 02:58 pm by Oracle Reason: 1
We didn't have a sampling program when I was there (CS/EEE 2000).  But I do remember our ECE241 project using FPGAs that I reproduced using a PIC and showed both versions in the lab just to annoy the prof.  We didn't use microcontrollers at all.

My point is that the 16F and 18F are completely different architectures.  What I'm saying is it's just stupid to have to start over because you're moving to a new architechure.  I use the exact same C++ language today on a quad core phenom chip as I used in my 3rd year CS courses in 1997.  And it's more-or-less the very same C++ I used to program an Arduino or higher family AVR chip.  Why would I want to waste brain cells knowning archaic details of every chip I've used in between?   I can still remember int21h from DOS in the 1980's.  That's really useful today.  The lower level you go, the more detail you need *and* the shorter the life of the information.

I'm not even going to comment on your VB6 vs VB.NET comparison except to say it makes me feel a little sick to my stomach to hear a Waterloo student talking favourably about MS (and MS flew me to Seattle for their NT Kernel team in 2000).

I can tell you exactly what it was that convinced me to switch to Arduino.  I was working on a PIC project for a very long time to flash and LED at a precisely controlled frequency as well as doing other tasks, reading analog inputs and performing 32-bit floating point division on them, driving an LCD, and interfacing serially with a PC.  I never did finish my project.  I obviously used timer interrupts for the LED, but I tried every trick I could think of to get everything I needed into the available processing power.  Westfw here might even remember how much time on PIClist I spent discussing the project, but it must have been at least 50 hours over 6 months.  That was also when I moved to the 18F architecture to try and get the extra power I needed, and that move is what killed the PIC for me.  Once I had an Arduino, I had that project finished within an hour, including the initial learning curve on Arduino.

For my second project, just think of the difference between using a PIC CCP module in assembly (16F or 18F btw?) vs using Arduino's pulseIn() function.  I was finished my project on the Arduino in the time I'd still be looking up special function registers in the PIC datasheet.

My only problem with Arduino so far is everything has been too easy to program to be enough challenge to be really satisfying.


HAHA like the Microsoft dig. I personally don't have any problems with MS products, but quite a few Waterloo students share your view.

You make my arguement exactly, the Arduino is a great tool to have you up and running in a hurry. Thats what sold the Arduino to me. When I initally saw the Arduino I wasn't too interested cause I felt I was just paying for the IDE and could do everything with the PIC for free albeit with a little more effort. However, when I was on coop, where the free supply of parts and PICs weren't readily avaialble, the Arduino became viable and I haven't looked back since.

Also since most of my projects are designed to be open source and to be used as kits for beginners, the Arduino is the way to go.

BTW, trying to get back to the OP's topic, this would make for good discussion if we can get a group going in the South Western Ontario area!

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