Opinions please: EMS "Meggy Jr"

OK, I keep saying I ought to learn to solder properly. I ought to learn to programme chips. I ought...

Well, you get the idea.

So, I was browsing Evil Mad Scientist, and I came across Meggy Jr. It's a kit, you solder it, you can programme it. Ticks all the boxes, no?

But, all I have to go on are EMS' own comments - looking for reviews, all I find are reports of its existence, plus silly comments from people who haven't used it. I haven't found any video of it being played, and I can't tell if it makes any sounds.

Has anybody used it? Is it any good? Is it worth splashing out $130+?

(This isn't an immediate purchase - probably in the New Year.)

Picture of Opinions please: EMS "Meggy Jr"
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Kiteman (author) 8 years ago
Thanks for the advice, everybody - especially whatsisface. I think I shall go with the PICAXE, see what sort of mess I make of that (it's already there, so no charge if I kill it).
oskay8 years ago
Meggy Jr Kits have only been shipping since Saturday; you should start to see reviews and probably even videos in the next few days when people start to get them. (I'll say that it does make sounds.)

I also would not recommend this as a very first soldering kit-- as whatsisface suggested, it really is more of a "next step" in that regard. (Might I suggest a MiniPOV?) If you're beginning soldering, it's important to do a very small kit to build your confidence-- quickly getting to the point where "hey it works!" As far as programming goes, I do think that this is as good of a place to get started as any.

-Windell
Kiteman (author)  oskay8 years ago
Thanks for that. I can solder, just badly (the ICT tech at my school winces whenever he sees me cobbling stuff together). Thanks for the advice.
Saw that when it came out; looks pretty cool.

Wish I had one..
whatsisface8 years ago
There's probably better alternatives if you're just learning to program or solder. Maybe assembling an arduino might be useful, or even taking a trip to maplin for a cheap PIC programmer. I got one of Maplin's kit ones, they're pretty easy to solder, programming is a bit more difficult for a beginner. Maybe even get hold of a PICAXE or two to mess around with, even if only on a breadboard. I think rev-ed has kits available for the PICAXE, just solder them together and you're away. You can even program PICAXE's at first by using simple flowcharts, although the language is super-easy to pick up. I personally wouldn't recommend the Meggy Jr as a starter kit, it's more of a next step IMO.
Kiteman (author)  whatsisface8 years ago
OK. I sort of have a PICAXE (it belongs to school, a sample they got, but nobody else is interested in it, so I could ... acquire it).

How different are Arduino and PICAXE? Does PICAXE lead naturally onto Arduino, or are they totally different languages? Do they have similar capabilities?

(I know this is a reply to whatsisface, but others can answer as well)
They're different, but one can follow on from another. Depending which PICAXE chip you end up with, it's capable of some pretty heavy stuff (considering it's designed as an education tool, they get used all over because they're cheap and simple). The languages are pretty different, PICAXE is about as basic as programming gets, where programming an Arduino takes a bit more of a learning curve to get your head around. Put simply, the more pins your PICAXE has, the more it can do. Even the 08-M (The one I have about 20 of) can play "Happy birthday" with one line of code. If you've got a starter kit, then it's pretty much plain sailing. I'd assume thats what you've got, since you're at a school. If I were you, I'd spend some time messing around with a PICAXE (especially if it's costing you nothing) and then see if you can get a feel for it before spending any major money on something more complex.
. Excellent answer.
.
. Most programming languages for uCs are very similar. They all have assignment statements (x=y), conditionals (IF x > y), branching (GOSUB), &c. Keywords and syntax will differ, but the concepts are the same.