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Anybody in Vancouver BC ??? Looking for a microcontroller kit.

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by [email protected], Oct 16, 2007.

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  1. Guest

    I've been looking into getting a microcontroller kit to start learning
    about them. Preferably to be programmed in BASIC.
    The problem is I don't know where I can go in my city to buy such a kit.
    I'd rather not mail order - I'd rather buy something locally.
  2. Chris

    Chris Guest

    Try driving just across the border to a Radio Shack, and get their
    "What's a Microcontroller" BASIC Stamp kit for $79.99 USD.

    The BASIC Stamp is a greast way to start learning about
    microcontrollers. It's programmable in BASIC (only), and there are a
    lot of resources to get you going.

    All you need in addition is a PC with a serial port, and a 9V battery.

    Good luck
  3. Have you looked in the Yellow Pages? That's what I did decades
    ago when I needed a local store. Picked one out, pretty much
    at random, and it turned out to be pretty good. On later trips,
    I came to realize it was a part of a cluster of such stores, something
    I'd have missed if I'd picked some other store at random.

    Ask in the local newsgroup, it must be something like van.general.

    Find a local amateur radio club, and ask there. The Radio Amateurs
    of Canada keep a list of local clubs at their website,
    and there is also a list of upcoming amateur radio club fleamarkets,
    which you might find of interest (since at least some of the items
    that show up for sale can be of use to the general electronic hobbyist),
    though the season may be over by now.

    The RAC also has a list of local ham equipment dealers, and they
    might be a place to ask about the local electronic stores.

    Someone used to keep a list of local electronic stores, and it
    either included those in Canada or there was an appendix, but
    it's been so long since I saw mention of it that I can neither
    remember any details nor expect it to still be in existence.

    Since I've only been in Vancouver twice in my life, and even
    if I did visit any electronic stores (I can't remember), it
    was twenty years in the past so I have no idea what's there.
    There used to be some hobby type stores, though generally a
    lot of those everywhere have disappeared. There are bound
    to be distributor type stores, and dealing with them will
    likely vary, with some not wanting to deal with anyone
    who isn't buying a lot of stuff. I think there's an Active
    Electronics out there, and they've always been open to low
    quantity purchases.

  4. The PICAXE is by far the best solution for an introduction like this.
    No idea if it can be had locally to you though.

    The other (more expensive) option is the BASIC Stamp as Chris
    mentioned. The PICAXE is more popular now though.
    Sorry, can't help you there, I've only ever spent 4 days in Vancouver,
    and didn't see a single electronics store. But then again I wasn't
    What's wrong with mail order? cheap, easy, and more options available
    to you.

  5. I missed the BASIC bit. The poster could just dig out that old 486
    and run DOS on it (or one of the "free" variants. DOS used to come
    with BASIC. The I/O becomes the printer port, and one could
    always add a second printer port card for more I/O lines. Eventually
    buy or build a card with more I/O lines, easy to do when the expansion
    bus is still ISA.

    It's bulkier, but it's a cheap way to start. Especially when someone
    may be more interested in the things being controlled rather than
    the actual controller. If a specific dedicated use eventually
    comes up, they can buy an actual microcontroller, where the smaller
    size is likely an important point.

  6. Gilles Kohl

    Gilles Kohl Guest

    Maybe try here:

    They have Parallax products listed
    although you may want to call first to ensure what you want is in

    Also, if memory serves, "Radio Shack" got renamed "The Source by
    Circuit City" in Canada for whatever reason.

    The ham radio suggestion is an excellent one as these guys are usually
    a) helpful and b) knowledgeable.


    AINTME Guest

    (Michael Black) wrote in

    Thank you all for your suggestions - I will look into the RAC idea.
    Radio Shack here was bought out by Circuit City and became The Source.
    But not "the source" for microcontroller kits:)
    I might just go across to Bellingham and visit a Radio Shack store - I'll
    make sure I phone 1st and see if they have them. The Picaxe has a
    distributor somewhere in Ontario also.

    Thank you.
  8. About twenty years ago, Radio Shack spun off its Canadian division
    as a separate company. About five or so years ago, the Canadian company
    was bought by Circuit City. Radio Shack, the US company, didn't like
    the fact that a key competitor was operating in Canada under the Radio
    Shack name, so it went to court to win the right to cancel the agreement
    that let the Canadian company use the name "Radio Shack". Hence Radio
    SHack in Canada had to change its name, and get rid of any Radio Shack
    branded items (which was less than it had once been, Canadian Radio
    Shacks had been adding non-Radio Shack items over the years, unlike years
    ago when everything in the stores were branded Radio Shack items.

    But, while you still can get some part and tools at The Source (and
    at the same kind of premium price that you'd pay when they were Radio
    Shacks) the selection is limited, and there sure isn't any microcontroller
    for sale there.

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