SMARTBEAM! Ok, it's really microcontroll...

Dave Hrynkiw
October 2, 2008

It's been in the coming for a while, and now is the time to release it to the webosphere (yes, I said "Web-o-sphere").

Since Solarbotics Ltd. took over HVW Technologies, we simply couldn't ignore some of the benefits of microcontrollers. Really, they're not that scary. Many of them even look like our good friend the 74AC240 IC.

PICAXE Starter kitWe're starting our blending of technologies with the PICAXE line of microcontrollers. These have some specific features that make them very usable with BEAM projects:

  1. They're inexpensive. Most of us BEAMers are a cheap lot, scavenging for parts.
  2. They're SIMPLE. Plug in a USB cable, draw flow-charts, and download the code!
  3. They offer suitability. With over 13 types from very simple and small (08 series) to the powerful 40X1 series,  you can pick the right tool for the job, without overkill. How BEAM-ish.

So if you've become too comfortable with your latest techniques, try something new. Stretch your brain, and check out the PICAXE. We've even got starter packs, and a book!

Besides the PICAXE, we're also dabbling with the Freeduino SB. This is a project spawned from the Arduino project out of Italy. It's an open-source hardware and software project using the Atmel ATmega168 microcontroller.The really cool thing is that that it's open-source, there's a huge world-wide community of developers and users, so there's lots of help, source-code, and examples to start with.Freeduino SB

It's more expensive than the PICAXE, but it's a different beast. Where the PICAXE is generally just the chip, Freeduino is a full system. Besides the microcontroller, the Freeduino includes:

  • USB interface (so you just plug it into your PC to use it. That's it!)
  • Programming software usable on Windows, Mac, and Linux,
  • Programming language that is C-like, but simpler
  • Built-in voltage regulation, indicator LEDs and a FUSE. How beginner-friendly is that? (Very!)

So if you're more programming savvy than flowcharts and BASIC, check out a Freeduino SB, and do some web-searches. It's an very useable, handy platform!


January 28, 2015
Raspberry Pi Model B+ 512MB Project Boar...

Not being able to wait until the proper Friday New Product post, we are excited to announce that we are now carrying the Raspberry Pi Model B+ 512MB Project Board.

September 28, 2004
Robothon Success!

Congrats out to Grant, for bringing his "Ender's Wraith" to first place in the advanced mini-sumo category at last weekend's Seattle Robothon. We also picked up an award for "Most Unusual Robot" with our Turbot prototypes! Additional to that, a Solarbotics Sumovore ("Oops" by Kristina Miles) won the amateur mini-sumo category!

August 1, 2008
Solarbotics Closed for Heritage Day

We are so historical here, that we are going to be closed for Heritage Day - Monday August 4th.  Never fear we'll be back on Tuesday 5th!  No orders will be processed or sent out on that day, but we will be shipping on Tuesday. Cheers, Solarbotics Team!

August 1, 2003
Closed for Long Weekend

Just a quick reminder that Solarbotics' Offices will be closed on Monday, August 4 for a Provincial Holiday. We will resume normal business hours on the the 5th, from 9AM til 6PM MST.

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