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!


July 4, 2014
Friday New Product: Metric Hardware

It's another Friday and we are back with the product that makes sense - it is metric! It is not measured in twips, poppyseeds, barleycorns, yards, furlongs, or any of this funny stuff. It's your good old straightforward decimals. Metric 2.5mm Hex Nut - 25 Pack $4.00 Metric M2.5 Hex Nut, in packs of 25, […]

May 23, 2003
New Motor!

We've been very fortunate to be offered a limited supply of the amazing Portescap MU915L gear motor. Sound familiar? They should - they're the motivators for the legendary "Walkman" by Mark Tilden. We don't have a huge number of these, so if you're interested, order soon! (Limit 5 per customer)

February 13, 2010
Family Day, Sensors, YouTube'n

Well folks, let's get started with sad news - We will be closed on Monday, February 15th 2010 for Family Day. Standard schtick - send your emails, submit orders, leave messages, etc. We will resume responding to customers and shipping orders when we reopen the next day (Tuesday, Feb. 16th). Next up - more sensors! […]

November 19, 2001
Christmas Specials

Time to stock up on Solarcells and Capacitors! Once again, we have our Solarcell Christmas Specials 1 & 2, and our Capacitor Christmas Specials online. Check the "Sale Items" menu pick for details!

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