Monday, May 09, 2011

The Great Global Hackerspace Challenge

Not long ago, Me and the Hackerspacekl gang, join The Global Hackerspace Challenge. Basically we build a Arduino Shield that process words.

Actually the whole process is best viewed on the hackerspacekl blog.

In summary, here is what we learned.
- K.I.S.S, Keep It Small and Simple
The Atmega168 have only 16KiB of memory which the code itself taken half of it. and it is slow, it runs on such a speed 16 MHz. Modern computer is around 2 GHz. It better be simple, because debugging is hard.

- Serial is your best friend (on arduino anyway)
Unlike programming on PC or Web app. There is no print function to be used to debug, there is no debugger either. Even we have a LCD, it is not reliable. And serial pretty much built into the arduino board. So USE IT.

- Optimization matters
On dynamic language like python, or more modern language like java. There is garbage collector, even c/c++ have OS to help on that. So one don't need to worry about memory issues. But on arduino, removing unused code and code, and save a lot of memory.

- One need to think very low level.
The I2C to eeprom code is about  shifting bits/bytes to write to the EEPROM. For once we are thinking in bytes. And we need to know a bit of hardware, to write the code properly.

Overall, it is fun and a interesting experience. For a programmer that spend time on python, or doing web development. Opening one eyes to embedded programming a bit, a little bit of experience that meant a lot to me.