Aurduino or Make Controller
May 18, 2008 7:55 PM   Subscribe

I am trying to decide which to (learn) to use, The Arduino or The Make Controller Kit. Which should I choose as a first buy / entry level controller?

I am going to have 10 days to sit down and really get down and dirty with a new project. I am very much an autodidact type of person. I have in to build a mind a multi-touch musical instrument.

I am an artist. I am have above average Actionscript 2.0 (working on 3.0) programming skills. I will be using flash to control the multi-touch

At the moment, do to ease of use the Make Controller looks like the best bet, but it is $100. On the other hand The Aurduino seems to have way more how-tos and tutorials and is $35

Any suggestions, guidance or comments would be greatly appreciated.

posted by dylanSnow to Computers & Internet (8 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Disclaimer: I've never used the Make Controller Kit.

I'd argue that you should go for the Arduino. Four main reasons:
1) The Arduino board is cheaper and open source. If your project turns out to be a large one, buying multiple boards won't be a problem (and you can even buy kits and assemble them yourself for cheaper).
2) There are several versions of the Arduino if your project changes and has size/portability requirements, and you want to transmit info wirelessly, mount it on fabric, or make it really small. In addition, people make 'shields' that mount on top of the Arduino, such as a prototyping shield, an Ethernet shield, or a motor shield, etc.
3) Both Make Controller's and Arduino's coding environment are based on C/C++, but Arduino's is much intuitive for me. Compare the code in this POV example and this one.
4) For some reason, most of the artists and musicians that I know use Arduino. This is completely unrelated to the specific merit of the hardware/software, but it just seems like it harbors a community of like-minded artists, which would provide for a nice learning environment.

Again, nothing against Make or the Make Controller -- I haven't even used the Make Controller -- but just my two cents.
posted by suedehead at 10:04 PM on May 18, 2008

The MAKE controller is a lot younger than the Arduino, for one thing, which might explain its smaller userbase.

The MAKE board uses an ARM7, which is a much, much beefier processor than the AVR on the Arduino— but unless you're trying to do the sound synthesis on the controller itself you're not going to come anywhere near the limits of the Arduino.

I have basically the same viewpoint as suedehead. I haven't used the MAKE controller; it looks like a nice board; I'd recommend the Arduino but I don't think you'd go wrong with either one.
posted by hattifattener at 11:00 PM on May 18, 2008

I haven't done much microcontroller stuff either, but after reading up onRepRap, I see they have recently linked to freeduin, and open source version of arduino.

Just wanted to toss that out as another option for you to consider.
posted by johnstein at 7:11 AM on May 19, 2008

My skills and projects are very similar to yours and I adore the Arduino. Also, it now costs me about €16 to make a new chip since I invested in a programmer, so it's cost-effective. I'm sure the MAKE board is also very cool, but I don't think you'd regret trying the Arduino out.

If you do go for the Arduino, be sure to check out the great Arduino courses at the site of MeFi's own todbot.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 8:08 AM on May 19, 2008

I've tinkered with a bunch of hc6811 dev boards. I had an expctation of how long things should take but Aurduino wrecked my expectations.

I built a aurduino (the lada ada one you can buy it here for $19-$25 ). Once I finshed the build I installed a tool chain I knew nothing about and got code running on the board in 10 min. I was using debian so the install of the tools was with apt-get.

The tool chain thing can be a pain. You need a compiler, assember, and something to get the code onto the board. The aurduino documentation and community is great.

I suggest this one but it's backorderd:
usb model
It's powered from the usb, you don't need a special cable, the chip comes programmed with a loader so you don't need a programmer. If you always want to use an Arduino attached to a laptop this is the way to go. Note: that the boaurduino boards don't physically fit with the Aurduino shields.

I'm sure that the Make board is great too. I haven't used it.
posted by bdc34 at 9:02 AM on May 19, 2008

I'd say Arduino just because the community is so much larger, so there's more people to help you out when you're stuck. There are lots of good tutorials (disclosure: the notes for classes I taught are on that page), a high-traffic forum, and a wiki "playground" where people are always posting new HOWTOs for doing something new with an Arduino.

But frankly the two biggest reasons why I started playing with Arduino over other platforms is: a) everything about it is open source, and b) the regular Arduino board has its main brain in a socket so it can be replaced. So even if everything goes absolutely wrong, you can pop the blown chip out and insert a replacement. And the replacements cost ~$4.

The Make board is a lot more capable in terms of it's inputs/outputs, so it makes a good environment when you have more complex projects. A good second board perhaps.

If you do decide on Arduino, I recommend getting the standard blue USB Arduino "Diecimila" board, then try out Freeduino or the Boarduinos if you want to build your own. This is just so you can have a known-working board for when you're first starting out. Nothing's more frustrating that trying to figure out if it's the hardware or the software that's not working. :)
posted by todbot at 11:02 AM on May 19, 2008

Oh and about the multitouch: pretty much every multi-touch interface out there is done with a webcam+projector+PC. The webcam watches your fingers, the projector projects what your fingers are moving, and the computer does the analysis of the webcam images and updates the projector. The whole deal is a fairly compute-intensive and is a much larger task than either the Arduino or Make controller can take on.

If you have an idea for a low-cost idea for multi-touch that doesn't require a webcam, please try it out! I personally would love to have an embedded multi-touch system that doesn't require a full computer setup.
posted by todbot at 11:08 AM on May 19, 2008

Response by poster: I should have an Arduino Starter Kit in my hands in a few days. Thanks for everyone's help.

Non-Computer Multi-Touch:
I have some ideas floating around in my head using a few cheap sensors, triangulation and dental dams (no joke). The dental dams help with pressure sensitivity. But developing that is not a priority for me right now.

posted by dylanSnow at 11:01 PM on May 22, 2008

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