Posts with «debugger» label

Tinkercad does Arduino

If you’ve done 3D printing, you’ve probably at least heard of Tinkercad. This popular CAD package runs in your browser and was rescued from oblivion by Autodesk a few years ago. [Chuck] recently did a video about a new Tinkercad feature: building and simulating virtual Arduino circuits. You can watch it below.

There are a variety of components you can add to your design. You’ll find an integrated code editor and a debugger. You can even get to the serial monitor, all in your browser with no actual Arduino hardware. You can also build simple circuits that don’t use an Arduino, although the component selection is somewhat limited.

This could be great for teaching Arduino in classrooms or when you want to do some development in a hotel room. The layout is very visual, so if you are accustomed to reading schematics, you may not appreciate the style. In addition, the selection of components is somewhat limited (including only supporting the Arduino UNO, as far as we could tell). So for educational purposes, it is great. For breadboarding your next great Arduino-powered robot, maybe not so much.

If you remember Circuits123 (or, this is the same underlying technology. They’ve just integrated it with Tinkercad. However, there doesn’t seem to be any real integration between the two other than they are on the same web page now. Perhaps in the future, they’ll let you drop components on the circuit that also show up in the 3D design (or, at least, with sockets or holders for those components).

However, having a simulated Arduino with a debugger could come in handy even if you don’t care about the circuit simulations. If you really want to do circuit simulation, it is hard to go wrong with LTSpice. If you really want it to be in your browser, there’s always Falstad.

Filed under: Arduino Hacks

PteroDAQ boards

I took a photograph this afternoon of three of the boards that can be used with the PteroDAQ data acquisition system:

On the left is the Arduino Leonardo, the slowest and most expensive of the boards here. In the middle is the KL25Z, which I’ve been using in my class for a couple of years—it is the cheapest and most featureful of the boards. On the right is the Teensy 3.1 (without headers yet), which is the fastest and smallest of the supported boards.

I’m considering switching to the Teensy 3.1 for the class, despite its higher price than the KL25Z board, because adding male headers to the bottom of the board makes it possible to plug the Teensy 3.1 into a bread board, which makes for more secure wiring than running separate wires to the KL25Z board.  We don’t really need the 64 pins of the KL25Z board, we’re not mounting Arduino shields, and we’re not using the accelerometer or the touch sensor, so the main question is whether it is better to have the data-acquisition board be standalone or be inserted into a bread board. The RGB light on the KL25Z board is a nice feature for providing feedback that is missing from the other boards (which only have a single-color LED).

I’ve also thought about usefulness to the students after the course, though few of the students will go on to do anything other than PteroDAQ with the boards.  The Arduino IDE is much easier to deal with for beginners than any of the development environments for the KL25Z, and Teensyduino is pretty easy to install on top of the Arduino environment.  So if students are going to go on to do hobbyist-level programming on the boards, then an Arduino board or the Teensy 3.1 might be a better choice. Given how much more powerful the Teensy 3.1 is than the old ATMega-based Arduinos, I see no reason to recommend buying Arduino boards (though clones from China have gotten down to about $3).

Erich Styger, in a comment, mentioned that he is frustrated by the Teensy’s lack of a SWD (serial wire debug) connector, which he is used to using for debugging. Since I’m from an older generation of programmers, I don’t miss it—I’ve not used the SWD connector on the KL25Z boards (though my son has, to use the OpenSDA chip as a programmer).  For me, it is a luxury to have a serial port for getting print messages from the board—I started microprocessor programming in the days when having one or two LEDs was about all the information you got back from the board. Having debuggers like GDB was a luxury available on computers that cost thousands of dollars.

Of course, the ARM processors on the Teensy 3.1 and the FRDM KL25Z boards are very much more complicated than the old 8080A, Z80, and 6800 8-bit processors I started with, and people are writing much larger programs for them, so I can see the advantage of having a debugger. But there is a large startup cost to learning to use a debugger and setting up the complicated software development tools they expect you to use, so I’m happy recommending the very limited, but easy-to-use Arduino interface for bioengineering students who want to go a bit further.

I’m curious what my readers think about the choice between a FRDM KL25Z board and a Teensy 3.1 board for the Applied Electronics class, given that most of the students will only use the boards for that class.  What tradeoffs might I have missed?  If you were in the class, which board would you rather work with?

Filed under: Circuits course, Data acquisition Tagged: Arduino, debugger, KL25Z, Leonardo, PteroDAQ, Teensy

Meet Arduino ZERO – the new board jointly developed by Arduino and Atmel

It’s a pleasure to announce the latest development board, Arduino Zero, expanding the Arduino family by providing increased creative opportunities to the maker community.

Arduino and Atmel unveil the Arduino Zero, a simple and powerful 32-bit extension of the platform established by Arduino UNO. It aims to provide creative individuals with the potential to realize truly innovative ideas especially for smart IoT devices, wearable technology, high-tech automation, crazy robotics, and projects not yet imagined.

The board is powered by Atmel’s SAMD21 MCU, which features a 32-bit ARM Cortex® M0+ core and one of its most important feature is Atmel’s Embedded Debugger (EDBG), which provides a full debug interface without the need for additional hardware, significantly increasing the ease-of-use for software debugging. EDBG also supports a virtual COM port that can be used for device programming and traditional Arduino boot loader functionality.

Massimo Banzi, Arduino co-founder and CEO said:

“The flexible feature set enables endless project opportunities for devices and acts as a great educational tool for learning about 32-bit application development.”

Reza Kazerounian, senior vice president and general manager, microcontroller business unit at Atmel added:

“Leveraging more than 15 years of experience since the inception of AVR, simplicity and ease-of-use have been at the core of Atmel’s technology, Atmel is pleased to see the continued growth of the global maker community stemming from the increasing access and availability to open source platforms such as Arduino. We enable makers, but the power lies within the makers themselves.”

The first prototypes of Arduino Zero will be on display at Maker Faire Bay Area 2014 in San Mateo on May 17 and 18 at the following booths:
Arduino Booth: #204
Atmel Booth: #205
ARM Booth: #405

See you there!


Arduino Blog 15 May 13:24