Let's Make Robots!

What is the best programmer/development board for someone new?

I was wondering if anyone could point me in the right direction.  I'm looking for a programmer/development board that your only limited to your knowledge and right now I don't have much, but will want to expand upon it without buying a whole new programmer/development board.  So I'm also looking for something that will be easy to get started in also with tutorial to get you up and running.  I don't want to start with something and be cut off and have to go out and buy something completely new and start all over again learning.  What would anyone recommend for me and had experience in?  Thanks for your help.


P.S.  I'm looking for work with LED, 3D LED cubes, and robots.  Something all around you could use.  I know there are alot of smart peoples here.  Hope to share one of my project in the future with you guys.

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The PIACXE is a grea choice to start with.

The cheapest USB to serial converter is from Fundamental Logic -- only$9.13 


This will plug directly into a breadboard. You will have to add the stereo jack .

One note: the PICAXE requires the FTDI chip to have inverted TX and RX, opposite that of the Arduino. But it is  very easy to reprogam the chip wiith Mprog programmer from the FTDI website. 

Another good starting optoin is the  USB-18x board from Advanced Micro --$21 (includes the usb interface nad PICAXE 18X xhip)




If you have absolutely no programming experience, I would most definitely go with the picaxe to start if you want to be a hobbyist.

Other than a few special functions, the programming Picaxe uses is BASIC, a very simple language that I refer to it "coding in plain english"

Again, either is great, I haven't had experience with Arduino yet, but have been very happy with picaxe so far.


Either way, you'd have a lot of support here! 


Picaxe 28x1 for $28

the usb cord is $15

Now for the 28 chip for $6.63 a bad price.  Or can you get them somewhere else cheaper.  Also what motor driver would I need again and a place someone got it here in the US. 

My first thought was to get a picaxe but I'm not seeing anything new with it.  Everything I see is the same robot fritsl made and some of them have tracks.  So doesn't really seem to offer me alot to learn.  Still might get one since it just seem so simple to do somethings.  I have a little knowledge in basic and c++.  So I thought about an arduino though.  Pic seem good to.  So anyone can recommend what the best pic or arduino to get.  I notice the Pickit2 but wasn't sure about the arduino.  Thanks for all your help.

People are building those for the reason of starting out in this hobby, as they get more exp in building and understanding, you will see more and more interesting things. Take CTC, he's been doing all sorts of projects with his picaxes, playing with memory and attempting some sort of mapping technique(sorry if I got that wrong ctc). Zanthess has a pretty nifty projects (as well as having some musical amusment)thats far from being a fritszbot... The picaxe is very easy to get started with and a great starter and advanced alike. It's really about your ability to make the most of the tools that you have. Again, starting out with the same bot is just a way to get famiiiar with the tools.  The arduino is great but you could get frustrated a lot faster if you don't have exp in c due to it's higher complexity among other attributes.

pics....mmm I defer thta to BOA, but it would be a fun challenge if you want to try to learn assembly.



Thanks, I think I might just go ahead and get a picaxe to start.  Maybe I will be able to figure more out that no one else thought of or something.  The problem is that for me living in the USA I don't come across any places that sell the usb cord with it.  They charge you a good $25 for that which is high when in UK you can get it with that.  I know I think it was posted before where you can get everything here in the USA.  If anyone still have that site handy please leave it in here.  Thanks a bunch.

I expect that you could make a USB cord fairly easily. get a standard USB cord, cut off the 'B' end and replace it with a jack or whatever your PIC board requires. The jacks are standard, and the pin connections must be on the web somewhere - possibly in the great big PICAxe manual that you can get from Amazon and other places.

Having researched both PICAxe and Arduino (sp?) I also reckon that a PICAxe is the right place to start. The Arduino seems to have a better spec, but seems to have fewer kits and on-line resources. The main advantage of the Arduino appears to be built-in 'H' Bridges on many project boards. I also sneaked a look at ARM based boards that look to have stunning specs and prices to match.



I'm also about to start my first project - the Mousey from the Absolute Beginner's Guide to Building Robots. Although I'm up to speed on programming (mostly high volume data driven web sites - don't mock, it's a living) it's about 20 years since I was last involved in electrical or mechanical engineering, or C programming. So I've got a lot of re-learning to do. Having started with LMR (thanks to GeekDad @ Wired), I have been browsing the web and buying some books. I kind of know what I want to do,and it focuses on the programming. However, I'm stuck on my choice of MCU.

Based on the Beginner's Guide, I initially plumped for OOPic over, say, STAMP. I now realise that most of the books and much of the stuff on the web is at least five years old. Moore's law has had its effect and OOPic may not be the current best choice - the info on their website isn't well laid out for the novice and seems to be dated.

This is the most active and comprehensible site for roboteers that I've found so far, and the Picaxe seems to be the most common MCU, so I'm going to research that one next. What I'm looking for is an MCU that's already built onto a board that I can build onto a robot. I'd also like a reasonably high-level language to work in, so a robust and documented compiler is important for me.

One thing that really anoys me - just the one, so far - is the high price of components in the UK.

Any hints or tips welcome.



I've just started micro cotrollers myself but have chosen picaxe for a number of reasons.

1 they're cheap and easy to get.

2 Software, manuals etc are free online.

3 A lot of support from magazines

4 There is support for programming in other languages such as C

5 Since the picaxe is just a preprogramed pic, when your ready to move on to the native risc assembly code, just put it in a programmer, overwrite the bootsrap code with your own software. Instant upgrade to a standard pic processor with access to the memory previously used by the bootstrap code and a lot more speed. All the goodies BOA mentioned.

6 If you can solder then you can make your own development board for a fraction of the price. A prototype board with a diode, regulator, 3 pin header and a couple of resistors is all you need to begin with.

I'm also just getting into the electronics world, found this site and immediately bought the electronics learning kit from Radioshack.

I'm stuck in the same boat, I don't have any programming experience, and want to get the "Most bang for my buck" if you will, lol.

I'm really tempted to get the Arduino Decimeila (I know, I spelled it wrong, /shrug) but it seems like alot of people here prefer the picaxe, making it a hard decision.

I do recall a post about this previously by fritsy, but it did me no justice :P