Setting up the VoiceShield

Not too long ago I bought some basic Arduino gear at radio shack, and have recently gotten several irons thrown into the fire, assembling kits and writing sketches. I’m a mid level hardware hacker and higher end programmer. But C++ isn’t something I’m too familiar with so it’s slow going. (Arduino seems to assume you’re very fluent in C)

I recently got several things up and running including the color tft/sd reader, 4 element green LED, ardweenys etc. But I’m stuck on the VoiceShield ( I’m fairly sure I’ve assembled it correctly, but as with so much arduino things I’m finding documentation and current information is lacking. Their demo sketch won’t even compile.

After digging around for that I found that a change recently in the arduino ide broke their sketch and I downloaded a fix, which does compile. But I ran their program to upload the demo sound effects, and it green lights for communication but doesn’t get the 2nd green light which I think indicates uploading is progressing.

I had a heck of a time debugging my first sketch (I started big, 180 lines with comments/blanks removed, until I realized I could use the serial out for progress and getting feedback from the unit. Then that technique proceeded to run the ardweeny out of sram and caused it to behave completely randomly, apparently that’s a common behavior when it runs low on sram. Till then I was debugging by connecting the tft display and outputting to that. (developed on the mega)

But BOTH of those techniques don’t work with the voice shield upload… it uses SPI to talk with its shield so the display won’t work. It uses serial to communicate during upload, so that won’t work. So again I’m groping in the dark trying to figure out why it won’t run, unable to send useful feedback out from the mega. Can’t use the LED display either.

I assume there are some other minor details I have to clean up to compensate for the IDE update, but I had to use google to find the first fix, it wasn’t directly shown at either makershed nor SpikenzieLabs, they apparently expect you to spend half an hour digging for solutions instead of just telling you upfront about known issues?

Does anyone have experience with getting this shield running?

I would also like to find a way to hook multiple SPI devices up at once. I see the TFT display “shares” SPI with the display and the card reader but I really don’t understand the mechanism at work. I did get the display routines nicely optimized however, I’m surprised how buggy and poorly designed that code was for a demo. None of this “wait 3 seconds for it to draw” nonsense, I’m not that patient. :wink: But that makes this arduino terribly frustrating for me at times. I think my next purchase is going to have to be the arduino cookbook, hopefully that has actual real documentation in it!