bgolab
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Re: Pi Pico - the most user un-friendly MCU?

Tue Jul 27, 2021 6:24 am

I have been using he PICO since January. Started with Windows at the very beginning. And quickly moved to Linux.

During the last few months tested with the PICO SDK several options:
- Windows - had some issues in January 2021 - I skipped it as I do not like Windows based tool (the only exception for me is Eclipse for C, for the historical reason - I do not want to say it is perfect tool)
- Ubuntu - perfectly works - it's my primary SDK environment (GREAT)
- PlatformIO - I tested it in very early stage, managed to compile big projects, I use Platformio for ESP8266, frankly not sure why I do not follow this project (I will try it in the future just to see what is the current state)
- WSL (Windows Subsystem for Linux)- also fine - personally I like this approach to avoid heavy VirtualBox VMs (GREAT)
- WSL / Docker for Windows - works but CPU was heavy impacted in my case (GOOD as I like docker based approach but CPU issues needs to be investigated)
- Keil MDK (a guy posting here, skilled in MDK prepared nice template for the MDK) - it is not perfect now but has some potential ( I am a heavy user of the MDK for STM32/NXP that's why I was interested in).

What I want to say: there is really so many, many possibilities if it comes to PICO SDK. The forum is great - we have RPI guys directly involved and very advanced users here.

The only question is: do you like this device? If yes, just enjoy it.

ejolson
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Re: Pi Pico - the most user un-friendly MCU?

Tue Jul 27, 2021 6:53 am

lurk101 wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 5:53 am
M_P wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 5:20 am
it's beneficial in a forum such as this to listen to voices that say something different.
Agreed 100%. How else are companies going to find out about the weird things that most folks won't run into
I don't think this thread has identified any such 'weird things.'
I think the SDK adding so many options that limits on the Windows command line can overflow is a bit weird. It also seems weird that printf gets pulled into a binary to report errors in routines likely called when stdio is not available.

I suspect the right place for weird things are issues on Github somewhere. At the same time, I can understand some people being more comfortable using Gitlab or even this forum.

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Re: Pi Pico - the most user un-friendly MCU?

Tue Jul 27, 2021 9:01 am

lurk101 wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 2:30 am
jamesh wrote:
Mon Jul 26, 2021 10:11 am
Remember that 10 people complaining on the forums != 500k people who have bought Pico's. So whilst its interesting to see that a few people are having problems, and yes, we will see if there are documentation changes that can be made, it doesn't reflect the vast majority of users out there who seem to begetting on fine.
Why is it that it is often the most experienced having these issues? Puzzling!
"You cannot teach an old dog new tricks"

I am an old dog. I like the ways things work, change is just something else I have to learn with an aged brain that no longer likes learning.

Not puzzling at all.
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Re: Pi Pico - the most user un-friendly MCU?

Tue Jul 27, 2021 9:09 am

zapta wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 2:59 am
aallan wrote:
Mon Jul 26, 2021 9:52 am
However there has been a small, but very vocal, faction — mostly here on the forums — that have been extremely and continuously critical.
From the way you chose to frame our feedback I understand that it's not welcomed. Ok, got it.
aallan wrote:
Mon Jul 26, 2021 9:52 am
We're just users like the rest of you.
No, you are not users like us, you are a chip vendor that provide to your users tools, information, and recommendation on how to use your products. Other vendors provide a single package install (ST, NXP, etc) but you chose to use the arcane 'tool chain' model where your users are required to find, download and install each tool individually.

Your response here suggest that you are happy with they way things are so my part of providing you with feedback is done.
I've let this thread run because we are checking it for useful feedback. Given the title of the thread, if feedback were not welcomed, this would be a very different thread. Shorter, and locked.

I have no problems with the toolchain model, it's how Linux does things, and it works and its how a lot of embedded engineers have grown up over the last 20 years if not longer. It's not really even that difficult to get going, provides ample scope for customisation etc. Is it the best options? Perhaps on Linux yes, but maybe a single install is better on Windows?

My concern with a single install (I presume we are just talking Windows here?) is that you lose a considerable amount of the customisation functionality. Also there are problems with keeping things updated. For example, with the github model we use for distributing the SDK examples etc, its very very easy to update the SDK tree, or grab development branches if you want to try out a new feature. That doesn't come so easily with single installations. Yes, you need to know git, but git seems to be everywhere nowadays and you have to know how to use it to get by in many environments.
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bensimmo
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Re: Pi Pico - the most user un-friendly MCU?

Tue Jul 27, 2021 9:36 am

Git's in VSCode not lease because they are owned by the same company.

The nice thing about VSCode on windows, is with the flick of a drop down box in the corner you can build/run/test under Windows10 CMD, Windows10 PowerShell, Debian, Ubuntu, Other WSL2, or even Remote RaspberryPi all from a drop down box*

At least last time I had a good play with it.
And now Windows Terminal is similar, you can switch all from the same window and just have different tabs.

Side note, I've not tested for Pico as last time I ran the recommended quick install scripted link to from the docs, a month or so back, it balked out and didn't work.


*In true Apple advert style, 'setup sequences may have been shortened'.


As for long filenames, just disable legacy support for the 260 character limit and you have Long filenames... Just make sure you other programs, if old, don't mind and are not expecting the legacy method. The joys of backwards compatibility, they should scrap that with Win11.

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Re: Pi Pico - the most user un-friendly MCU?

Tue Jul 27, 2021 10:33 am

ejolson wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 6:53 am
I think the SDK adding so many options that limits on the Windows command line can overflow is a bit weird.
That is a problem which prevents MicroPython for Pico building on Windows. The solution there is to install MingW rather than the officially recommended Microsoft build tools. Not only is MingW a much smaller installation than the recommended 7GB Microsoft install, it also means one doesn't need to run anything from the Developer Command Prompt, everything can be run from the normal Command Prompt. MingW also provides all those Linux commands which aren't otherwise present which may be needed for some builds.

That may still not be enough. Even with MigW there are some differences in command parameter quoting and character-escaping between Linux and Windows which means parameters passed to commands under Linux will be different and do not work under Windows. This is the case for MicroPython for Pico where the build uses 'sed' to extract content from files to build its internal string database. One has to write a utility program which achieves the same for Windows.

I believe I am still the only person who has ever built MicroPython for Pico under Windows. But the good news is it can be done and I can do it all from the desktop with my PoC simple IDE GUI with a single click on a menu option, or icon if I had included a toolbar.

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Re: Pi Pico - the most user un-friendly MCU?

Tue Jul 27, 2021 1:24 pm

Note that the command line length issue happens when you dont use the provided SDK CMake build. The command line issue on Windows is a Windows limitation that CMake itself already works around.

As for the "printf" getting pulled in thing, yes github is the correct place for reporting issue, but actually it doesn't (in release builds) if the only thing printf is used by is the panic code.

There is only so much you can to automatically remove code that you had asked for (it's part of pico_stdlib) based on what may or may not have been called at runtime. We do however provide pico_set_printf_implementation(TARGET none) in the cmake build (amongst other ways) if you want to explicitly remove printf support

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Re: Pi Pico - the most user un-friendly MCU?

Tue Jul 27, 2021 1:48 pm

kilograham wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 1:24 pm
Note that the command line length issue happens when you dont use the provided SDK CMake build. The command line issue on Windows is a Windows limitation that CMake itself already works around.
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Re: Pi Pico - the most user un-friendly MCU?

Tue Jul 27, 2021 2:44 pm

did you try to port the source code in Eclipse+CDC?
as old "dog".... ;)

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Re: Pi Pico - the most user un-friendly MCU?

Tue Jul 27, 2021 3:17 pm

yeahimthatguy wrote:
Thu Jul 15, 2021 12:36 pm
Half of the challenge with microcontrollers is the setup and tool knowledge, there's no way around it.
Of course there is. Check for example https://platformio.org/ and wizio's adaptation of the C++ SDK.

The tool-chain style of installation belongs to the previous century. Same goes for forcing the user to setup a make file. And the nice thing is that these capabilities are available for free, are platform agnostics (Windows, Mac, Linux), flexible and extendable, provide a rich eco system (e.g. VSCode's extensions and platformio's boards and libraries), easy to use, and provide an excellent value for small companies with limited resources.

Some of the posts here suggest to me that RPT's managers and engineers were not even aware of these opportunities.

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Re: Pi Pico - the most user un-friendly MCU?

Tue Jul 27, 2021 3:20 pm

zapta wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 3:17 pm
yeahimthatguy wrote:
Thu Jul 15, 2021 12:36 pm
Half of the challenge with microcontrollers is the setup and tool knowledge, there's no way around it.
Of course there is. Check for example https://platformio.org/ and wizio's adaptation of the C++ SDK.

The tool-chain style of installation belongs to the previous century. Same goes for forcing the user to setup a make file. And the nice thing is that these capabilities are available for free, are platform agnostics (Windows, Mac, Linux), flexible and extendable, provide a rich eco system (e.g. VSCode's extensions and platformio's boards and libraries), easy to use, and provide an excellent value for small companies with limited resources.

I would expect any serious product manager and engineer to be fully aware of these opportunities.
We are. But these are your opinions, and they may not coincide with other people opinions. Stating these things as facts is disingenuous.
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Re: Pi Pico - the most user un-friendly MCU?

Tue Jul 27, 2021 3:32 pm

zapta wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 3:17 pm
yeahimthatguy wrote:
Thu Jul 15, 2021 12:36 pm
Half of the challenge with microcontrollers is the setup and tool knowledge, there's no way around it.
Of course there is. Check for example https://platformio.org/ and wizio's adaptation of the C++ SDK.

The tool-chain style of installation belongs to the previous century. Same goes for forcing the user to setup a make file. And the nice thing is that these capabilities are available for free, are platform agnostics (Windows, Mac, Linux), flexible and extendable, provide a rich eco system (e.g. VSCode's extensions and platformio's boards and libraries), easy to use, and provide an excellent value for small companies with limited resources.

Some of the posts here suggest to me that RPT's managers and engineers were not even aware of these opportunities.
I see the Raspberry Pico and one other RP2040 device on the PlatformIO list of supported hardware. Currently the only framework available is Arduino. While best is the enemy of good, variety does give developers an opportunity to choose what better fits their needs.

I'm not sure what state of the art is for the design of washing machine controllers, but I didn't have any trouble porting the bocfel Z-code interpreter to the Pico.

viewtopic.php?f=144&t=316321

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Re: Pi Pico - the most user un-friendly MCU?

Tue Jul 27, 2021 3:37 pm

As I said early, we are happy to support people if they want to include Pico in their dev systems. The more the merrier.

I guess, if we have chosen something like PlatformIO as the "thing we are going to use and support", then that would be it. No other options would be possible, but taking the approach we have taken means that anyone out there can take our fairly easy to understand system and bolt it in to their own system (as PlatformIO have done, as Arduino have done)

Looking at our system as a building block to something else should you want to perhaps.
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zapta
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Re: Pi Pico - the most user un-friendly MCU?

Tue Jul 27, 2021 4:08 pm

jamesh wrote: Looking at our system as a building block to something else should you want to perhaps.
If your target audience for the C++ SDK are framework developers rather than end users then say so.

This will set end-users expectations correctly.

"Either You Succeed or Explain"

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Re: Pi Pico - the most user un-friendly MCU?

Tue Jul 27, 2021 4:29 pm

kilograham wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 1:24 pm
Note that the command line length issue happens when you dont use the provided SDK CMake build. The command line issue on Windows is a Windows limitation that CMake itself already works around.
I am not exactly sure how you mean by "the provided SDK CMake build". I followed the recommended install procedure on my Windows 10 system which had none of the tools previously installed and I ran into the command line issue. I can't see how I was running anything but what I was instructed to install.

How would one check to see if they are using "the provided SDK CMake build" or something else.

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Re: Pi Pico - the most user un-friendly MCU?

Tue Jul 27, 2021 4:43 pm

zapta wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 4:08 pm
jamesh wrote: Looking at our system as a building block to something else should you want to perhaps.
If your target audience for the C++ SDK are framework developers rather than end users then say so.

This will set end-users expectations correctly.

"Either You Succeed or Explain"
The end users for a development board as cheap as the Pico range from hobbyists to corporate engineering teams with children and computer science programs at the university along the way.

Even if the audience were limited to the people on this forum, no one size would fit all. Therefore, it seems reasonable to start with a flexible and open system so that the market can easily expand. From this point of view, it's much easier to add a GUI to a command line tool but much harder to turn a GUI into a command line tool.

At the same time, maybe the main thing most people need is a better installer for Windows. Perhaps it should include MinGW as already suggested along with VS Code.

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Re: Pi Pico - the most user un-friendly MCU?

Tue Jul 27, 2021 5:06 pm

ejolson wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 4:43 pm
Therefore, it seems reasonable to start with a flexible and open system so that the market can easily expand.
That's fine as long the vendor clarifies that they expect third parties to make it end-user friendly.

That would be much more productive than the 'if you think it's difficult to use you don't know what you are talking about" gaslighting in some of the posts here.

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Re: Pi Pico - the most user un-friendly MCU?

Tue Jul 27, 2021 5:15 pm

zapta wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 5:06 pm
ejolson wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 4:43 pm
Therefore, it seems reasonable to start with a flexible and open system so that the market can easily expand.
That's fine as long the vendor clarifies that they expect third parties to make it end-user friendly.

That would be much more productive than the 'if you think it's difficult to use you don't know what you are talking about" gaslighting in some of the posts here.
I don't worry about gaslighting except when visiting British Columbia

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gastown

Half of it results from language differences across international boundaries, the rest from personality and conversation styles.

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Re: Pi Pico - the most user un-friendly MCU?

Tue Jul 27, 2021 5:35 pm

ejolson wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 5:15 pm

I don't worry about gaslighting except when visiting British Columbia

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gastown
That link doesn't have the word 'gaslighting' in it. Try this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslighting



Users: "Your product is very difficult to install it on Windows."

Vendor: "You don't know what you are talking about. It's actually very easy to install on Windows".

Users: "OK"

That's a sad form of communication.

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Re: Pi Pico - the most user un-friendly MCU?

Tue Jul 27, 2021 5:44 pm

zapta wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 5:35 pm
ejolson wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 5:15 pm

I don't worry about gaslighting except when visiting British Columbia

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gastown
That link doesn't have the word 'gaslighting' in it.
You are right. In the article I linked
Wikipedia wrote: Gastown...is named for "Gassy" Jack Deighton, a Yorkshire seaman, steamboat captain and barkeep who arrived in 1867 to open the area's first saloon. He was famous for his habit of talking at length (or "gassing") and the area around his saloon came to be known as "Gassy's town,"
Maybe it's better to focus in this thread on how the SDK works on Windows and what might be done to improve it.

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Re: Pi Pico - the most user un-friendly MCU?

Tue Jul 27, 2021 5:58 pm

I think the approach RPF took for the pico-sdk is just great. While the microcontroller itself might not be the best fit for some of my projects, I just enjoy the development on this platform. I was and still am impressed on how well they did it and I am very happy they didn't use IDE approach. None of the solutions on the market would fit everybody so choosing to focus on building and creating a solid, generic system that can be tweaked to work with any other development environment is just great idea! Especially, but not only, for a newcomer in the microntrolers world. Then you for going this way!

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Re: Pi Pico - the most user un-friendly MCU?

Tue Jul 27, 2021 6:58 pm

hippy wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 4:29 pm
kilograham wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 1:24 pm
Note that the command line length issue happens when you dont use the provided SDK CMake build. The command line issue on Windows is a Windows limitation that CMake itself already works around.
I am not exactly sure how you mean by "the provided SDK CMake build". I followed the recommended install procedure on my Windows 10 system which had none of the tools previously installed and I ran into the command line issue. I can't see how I was running anything but what I was instructed to install.

How would one check to see if they are using "the provided SDK CMake build" or something else.
I wasn't aware of anyone having this issue. If you can provide reproduction steps, we'll take a look. There are some variables in play; what version of cmake, what command prompt, what OS version, whether you're accidentally doing a ninja build rather than nmake etc. (Edit to be clear, lots of people have built on Windows without a command line length issue)

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Re: Pi Pico - the most user un-friendly MCU?

Tue Jul 27, 2021 7:23 pm

zapta wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 5:35 pm
ejolson wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 5:15 pm

I don't worry about gaslighting except when visiting British Columbia

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gastown
That link doesn't have the word 'gaslighting' in it. Try this https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaslighting



Users: "Your product is very difficult to install it on Windows."

Vendor: "You don't know what you are talking about. It's actually very easy to install on Windows".

Users: "OK"

That's a sad form of communication.
Indeed, and not what has happened here. I could have locked this thread 10 pages ago. I didn't because despite what you seem to think, we do take on board what people are saying. Sometimes we take action, sometimes we don't. That depends on whether we think the idea or comment is worthwhile. That is our prerogative. We decide how the product is developed, it's our product. We don't tell PlatformIO, Arduino or the like how to develop their product, although lots of people tell us how to develop ours! We will help them if we have time though.

In this case, it looks like Windows installation could be better. I suspect we will take a look at it - we may have already stated that in one on the messages above.

As for who the RP2040, the Pico and the SDK is aimed at. Anyone. Anyone who wants to use it. It's not specifically intended to be built in to other frameworks, that just what I suggested could be done, if you wanted to do so. As it always comes down to, if you don't like it, don't use it. It won't suit everyone, but it suits enough people that production is sold out for many months.
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Re: Pi Pico - the most user un-friendly MCU?

Tue Jul 27, 2021 8:56 pm

jamesh wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 7:23 pm
In this case, it looks like Windows installation could be better. I suspect we will take a look at it…

It's on my list. Realistically I'll probably look at it again towards the end of the year. Although I doubt I'll come back to it until Microsoft push their native package manager into general usage.
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Re: Pi Pico - the most user un-friendly MCU?

Tue Jul 27, 2021 9:02 pm

M_P wrote:
Tue Jul 27, 2021 5:20 am
What some folks seem to think, though, is that their complaints (regardless of how strongly they feel about them) require any kind of action aside from "I read what you said but we are currently doing it this way".
This. This is a key concept. The Henry "you can have it in any colour as long as it's black" Ford philosophy. Want an affordable car, we got that, it comes in black, deal with it.

Pre-pandemic our core business was somewhat phone & website small orders bound - spending lots of time on that. Due to a number of reasons we had to move in March 2020 (!) - manually - one van load at a time - resulting in no phone line for a few months. Then Brexit and no parts. Then someone burnt down their crystal factory. Getting parts is still a chess game. I've given up on getting SAMDs. Nothing else is certain. I've even spent a day just finding a few thousand electrolytic capacitors.

Now the phone is in the house & we don't have stock showing on the website, once a week we get a plaintive email from someone who wants five of something which we send them off to a next day distributor whilst production cranks out 100's a day and ships them by the big box load to the distributors.

The small customers that want to buy at the factory gate say we "SHOULD sell at factory gate prices like we used to". It's our choice to disappoint them and by some blood, sweat & tears, we are still trading - the production manager has only just gone in to the house (21:44), the production supervisor is still here (OK, one of the cats, but such is the dedication of the team) and I'm trying to debug an STM board.

The nature of capitalism is that the company chooses its business model, which it lives or dies by. If enough people subscribe or acquiesce to that model, the business works. If not, then it dies. As I am wont to say rather often, "because FaceBook", everyone thinks they have a say, but they don't, it's the mass that has a say, the individual can rail against the perceived iniquities of an offering, but the fact they have a voice via forum & flora, FaceBook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, and many other places I don't inhabit doesn't make them either right or that their opinion should be acted upon.

I've been to RPi Towers, my impression is that they are still small enough & lean running enough to know where their salary comes from. If you run a micro-business, the correlation between delivery and eating is foremost in your mind. I don't know where others are working, but I wonder if they have a disconnect between shifting product and their salary. If you have a working solution for a good percentage of a market place, concentrate on shipping that, not on tweaking it to be all things to all people.

The thing that frustrates me the most is the lack of economic appreciation in all of this. We get a development board with world-class documentation & an SDK that is as close to bare metal as can be (no cruft and if there is a bug, I can see how to fix it, try that with ST) for FOUR POUNDS. The board I'm working on right now costs £37. The Arduino equivalent is about the same. Both single core, less memory, no flexibility on routing IO etc etc.
Pico/RP2040 ≠ Arduino
Pico = hot rod kit car, Arduino = hot rod kit car wrapped in cotton wool with buoyancy aids & parachute

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