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.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.


If you have no programming experience, then learn RISC assembler! I think most folk learn pic BASIC because they already know BASIC...

I'll puppywalk you through it. No problemo.

Based on that article it seems that Picaxe may be the best starting place.  Even though you haven't done any programming before, I don't think switching from BASIC to C would be very difficult if you decide in the future to switch to Arduino.  Learning a programming language for the first time is difficult, but once you get the hang of it, learning another language will be much easier.  I learned BASIC my freshman year of high school and picked up C pretty easily my sophomore year.  Having programmed in BASIC for a while, it gave me more appreciation for the abilities of C!

There are a couple things I want to point out from Fritsl's guide: The Arduino can be had for much cheaper in a generic package such as the Bare Bones Board.  Also, the lack of a motor driver and proto board are two things that the Arduino DOES support, albeit with a few extra parts.  The Arduino Proto Shield and Motor Shield can be very easily attached to the Arduino, but are more costly than the all-in-one package of the Picaxe board.


While there is much support around here for picaxe, I advocate the flexability of raw pics, programmed in raw RISC assembler (only 32 instructions!).

The PICs are free and there are many homebrew programmers.

OR, you can pick up a pickit 2 clone programmer on eBay for $30, which comes with a free experimentors board.

Although the Basic Stamp 2 is very beginner-friendly, many people have said that it is underpowered and overpriced compared to the others.

Picaxe is programmed in BASIC and Arduino is programmed in C.  If you have any programming experience, this may be a deciding factor.

As robologist suggested, though, Arduino seems to be the direction that most people are headed in nowadays ... it's gaining a lot of popularity.

Both are adequate for robot building or any other application, really.  Microcontrollers themselves are, by their programmable nature, very adaptable to a user's needs.

Make magazine has a lot of info on LED stuff, the LED cubes, POV bits, and stuff, and every now and then something robotic. A lot seems to revolve around the Arduino, which a few folks here have used for robots, so it has some developing helps.

A lot of folks here work with the PICAxe too. I don't know of an LED cube with one, but it should be possible.

I got my intro to robotics with the Basic Stamp 2. There is an incredible amount of detailed information on how to use this which very much helps a beginner. It's been aroiund for a while, and I saw someone made a cube with one, but don't have any details. 

That said, I'd probably try to begin with the Arduino at this point,  but it would probably be best for you to read a bit of each of these, to see what makes the most sense to you. Then go for it.