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travis

Teaching Launchpad to Children

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Hello All. We are new to this Blog and thought i would start here. my 10yo has been interested in building Robots over the last few months so i figured it would be a great time to get him started in programming, As i looked around at various micro controllers on the market i chose the Launch pad MSP 430 value line to try and teach him myself. i know little about programming but have been doing electronic hobby some time.

 

I have searched the web for ( teaching the msp 430 aimed at children curriculum) and so far can only find a few areas like Blinky, and Pushy that got him started.

So i was hoping some one here might know of a good place to go for a more complete teaching platform.   

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Welcome @@travis !

 

I assume that you are using Code Composer Studio? I would have a look at Energia. Energia is a very simple IDE + framwork that greatly simplifies writing code for the LaunchPad. It abstracts the undelying hardware to understandable functions call without having to know the details of the inner workings of the micro controller itself.

You can download Energia for free here: http://energia.nu and the support forum for Energia is here on this forum: http://forum.43oh.com/forum/28-energia/

 

Robert

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Yes  i mentioned we do use Energia when he gets stuck on another post that i forgot to mention here. He mainly uses  CCS as i would prefer, it seems to work well for him most of the time :wacko: but it is up to me to teach him code and i could sure use lots of help with that as i m mid 50ish and code is a steep learning curve for me.

I recently received some books " Programmable Microcontrollers with Applications MSP430 launchpad with CCS and Grace " Great, but not for kids. " Getting started with MSP430 launchpad " a very good book starting with Energia and easy to read. and the last book " C programming by Larry Ullman " another good book, but not Micro controller minded.

 

I would like to find some teaching materials using code composer that is aimed at a kids level . Any recommendations would be welcomed. 

 

 

Code teaching instructors are in short supply here.

The Expats.

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I feel Energia is a good starting point for kids. Bumping them to CCS will be too overwhelming... to top it off it is very install heavy. Yes, it does not have debug, but you could use print statements. They can graduate to CCS at a later stage.

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CCS is overwhelming to me and I'm a grown man :-D

 

Sent from my Galaxy Note II with Tapatalk 4

Haha.. I've known CCS when they moved from 3.3 to the current Eclipse based one. I remember once double clicking one of the code tabs by mistake and the full perspective changed(still does, as a feature)

Once you know your way around it, it is a gem to use.

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Thanks for the advice. Currently i have him reading "Getting Started with the MSP430 Launchpad" with Energia. He keeps wanting to go back to ccs. i will keep him on Energia to see how it goes for him.

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It's obviously not relevant in your case, but for anyone else trying to get started with microcontroller development it might be worth consider something like the Netduino. As I came from a C# background that's what got me started.

 

It runs the .NET Microframework so very easy to work with. It can be programmed in C# (or I believe now even VB.NET) and the Visual Studio IDE is very nice and easy to use. You can easily write a C# class to wrap something complicated that they want to use - e.g a web server so they need know nothing about listening on TCP port 80. There's also good cross-over if your kid decides that a writing a desktop app suits them better.

 

There's obviously disadvantages for more advanced users but it could be a great start.

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If you son is comfortable with CCS, let him use it.  Some children raised on computers are not intimidated by a screen full of buttons and menus.

 

However, be aware that CCS and Energia differ in more than their interface.  Energia uses a library that abstracts away much of the details of the hardware, making it much easier to use for beginners.  But again, so long as your son isn't getting frustrated, let him stay with CCS.

 

Learning how to program microcontrollers natively (that is, without an abstraction layer like Energia/Arduino) is not intrinsically difficult, but sadly there is very little documentation aimed at absolute beginners.

 

One book I do highly recommend for anyone really wanting to get into computers is "CODE: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software" by Charles Petzold.  (http://www.charlespetzold.com/code/)

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Oh man I wish I had noticed this thread earlier - I actually just backed this kickstarter that just ended this morning: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2105764235/rekam-dr1-smartphone-programmable-car-program-on-t/comments I already have another version of the same system (same boosterpack basically but without all the car parts) and am using it with a group of girls that I am mentoring who have never programmed before at all (it's the Young Women in Science and Engineering program mentioned on the kickstarter page).

 

With that system there's only like 6 commands (get put etc on different pin #'s), and an interpreter already programmed on the launchpad handles responding to these by setting up the appropriate pins etc. Everything gets received by the launchpad over bluetooth from a phone (that part is basically abstracted to the kids, they just type up a program on the phone and send it over). And on the phone side, you can use the Laughton BASIC! app to send these commands over bluetooth from an Android phone. The BASIC! app also has functions to help you do things on the phone side really simply (like text-to-speech and stuff - pretty cool). This is great if you are just trying to make a cool project really fast and get the kids something they can quickly see actually do something in the physical world. Also in my experience kids seem to like anything that uses a smart phone :-) I think there's other similar kickstarters and projects out there geared at kids too.

 

If your son is already using CCS, he may be beyond needing it at this abstracted of a level already though! I would probably start a kid off with Energia just because it will still abstract a bit of the hardware/register-level stuff though. Then if he wants more of a challenge later you can always start going to the next level later by digging into what's going on under the hood in Energia, looking at the underlying Energia libraries.

 

BTW, if you use CCSv6 (the beta is available right now) it has Energia support built in I think - this really helps because you could still use all of the CCS debugging tools to help you view what's going on in more detail if you are having an issue.

 

Best of luck, and love to hear this kind of story! You will have to post it on the forum if you two make something neat. :-)

 

-Katie

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