- By: Ken Gracey Published: 26 January, 2015 11 comments
A customer on the forums asked about our progress on wireless programming progress for the Propeller. It’s been possible to program a Propeller over WiFi and XBee 802.15.4 RF links for quite some time, but it requires new programming tools and hardware designs to make this really beneficial for our customers. It’s the perfect demonstration of engineering - 90% of the fun is making a prototype work, but 90% of the work is bringing it to the market.
Educators have limited time in the classroom environment and need the tools to work perfectly every time, so we will release the hardware and software when it passes all of our tests.
Our goal is that students will be able to program our BASIC Stamp and Propeller robots (Boe-Bot, ActivityBot, Arlo, S3) from Chromebooks (WiFi and USB), Android-OS tablets (WiFi and USB) and iPads (over WiFi).
Propeller Activity Board WX - WiFi Programming Hardware
The Propeller Activity Board WX will provide a fully-wired, preset WiFi programming interface for our ActivityBot. On January 26, 2015, we sent the latest revision of the Propeller Activity Board WX printed circuit board to fabrication. The WX auto-selects the WiFi or USB programming port - whichever one is providing the program. The WX will have a new Parallax part number and be offered concurrently with the Propeller Activity Board Revision C. Educators and students can count on having this hardware by the Fall 2015 school semester.
Take a look at the pictures above to see the prototype WiFi programming circuit on top of a Propeller QuickStart Board, along with the layout of the new Propeller Activity Board WX.
BASIC Stamp Board of Education WX
This Board of Education (BoE) will be next up for a much-needed revision for wireless programming. We are in the process of deciding what we’ll be adding to the very popular BoE. The kinds of features we’re considering are an XBee socket (for WiFi programming and general RF communication), USB power, and an A/D converter. Tell us what you’d like to see on the next revision of the Board of Education by posting a reply below.
What about the software?
Our iOS programming tools are now working for iPad - with Spin language support only. We’re considering using a remote server for compiling C code for the ActivityBot, as it’s proven quite complex to put GCC on the iPad. We expect a Spin-only release before Summer 2015, with a C version shortly thereafter.
For the Chromebook and any Android tablet running Chrome, we’ve just started development of a Chrome App to allow USB and WiFi programming of the BASIC Stamp and Propeller. For this project we’ve formed an agreement with Iced Dev, a coding startup who understands our needs and has experience with programming other devices from a Chrome App. Schedule is still being determined for this software, but we expect beta versions available by summer.
All of the hardware and software will be completely open source.
We expect that teachers and students can simply plug our systems into their courses and let their student’s enthusiasm take over because the whole system of software, tutorials and hardware will work perfectly together!
Ken Gracey, CEO