Wednesday, July 22, 2015

17: Xmas in July -- I Received My 2 Particle Photons

Here's what you get for $19:
the Photon is 1.5" long
(they haven't totally erased the original "Spark" name yet)

See for details. I've had the earlier $39 Core model for a few months. Supposedly the Photon can run the software I previously ported from Arduino. Also, in addition to being half the price the Photon is supposed to use the latest WIFI chip (more reliable?).

But there has been good news and the other.

Good news: The Core has been very reliable. Once I got it connected to my WIFI I've been able to communicate with it from anywhere. It's like an Arduino Mega but faster, more memory (but with fewer GPIO pins), the physical size is like an Arduino Nano and it has built in WIFI. Particle's "cloud" interface makes their "smart controllers" a lot smarter than an Arduino. I have my Core connected to the Web. I can read sensors and control relays from a simple web page.

Bad news: Documentation is sketchy -- well, you'd kind of expect that with something this new. Program development is painful. I started with their web browser interface: particle/build. Finding my coding mistakes was a challenge. On one 80 line C++ program I left off a semicolon on the next to last line. I got 72 lines of error messages; line 71 finally told me about my mistake. Once I got to 20-some source files having them up in the cloud became cumbersome. 

So I tried switching to "Particle" programming where you keep your source file on your local disk. I could write a book about this but sufficient to say that since July 1 I have yet to be able to access a program compiled this way.

Also, I fear that Particle is skimping on their support force. At first, I got responses to my foolish problems/questions in a day. Lately (with changing to it can take a week or more.

* * *

I've been programming for 50-odd years. I should be used to this kind of thing.