This is just to allow me (and others) to know what platform we are most familiar with or like the most. The two main ones that I am trying to compare and contrast are the Propeller and the Arduino. Also, if you use another control system, feel welcome to post it or even describe it.
I like the Propeller Chip. Though it takes time to learn the language, because it is quite different from most modern languages, I like this platform because it is fast, efficient, has lots of RAM for stuff like display, and has many I/O
I also, dislike it because the language is non-standard and because it is missing many vital functions, like servo controlling. Also, each core is pretty slow and supports no interrupts. For many applications, you may use only one Cog and the rest will be sitting doing nothing. One nifty feature is that I believe that you can change the PLL, allowing you to dynamically clock this MCU
I’m really a fan of PIC microcontrollers, particularly when used with the PICKIT programmers and Great Cow Graphical Basic (for beginners) or C for more advanced programmers.
That said, after over a decade of using PICs with my students, I have switched to the Arduino platform. From a hardware perspective (separation of the USB programmer from the chip)… and even a software perspective (step-by-step debugging), I’ve got a pile of arguments why just using PICs was a technically better choice.
But the Arduino wins hands-down in the community aspect. There is just so much information available on Arduinos, and projects built around Arduinos, that I had to embrace them.
And you know… it worked out pretty well. For whatever reason my students achieved more with Arduinos than they did with the PICs… perhaps because they had heard of them and had heard that they were “easier to use” than other microcontrollers.
They aren’t, really… but that’s what they believe.
So I’ll say, “embrace conformity, and go Arduino”.
P.S. No, Arduino affictionados, I’m not saying the Arduino has bad software/hardware… I just prefer the technical aspects of the PIC microcontrollers as a learning platform.
It’s interesting to see Arduino’s success in light of of the alternatives. AVRs are pretty underwhelming chips. It’s not that they’re particularly user friendly, until recently the environment didn’t support auto-detection, forcing users to figure out arcane configuration details.
I think it’s heritage from Wiring and Processing explains it’s success in the face of cheaper or more powerful platforms. In most cases arduinos are computer glue, not standalone devices. They are a rebirth of the good old LPT days.
Propellers are pretty much exactly opposite, in their own weird little way. Cheap little multicore, and capable in their own way. The challenge with them is going to be taking advantage of their power.
My personal go to these days is the Teensy 3.0. It’s compact at less than an inch square, has a built in USB programmer and is powerful enough to not have to worry too much about code limitations. The guy behind it has put a lot of effort into the Arduino toolchain for it.
This year it debuted on our bot as an LED controller for bling, hanging of the I2C bus.