Online Course: Microcontrollers and C Programming - Review

Table of contents

RoadTest: Online Course: Microcontrollers and C Programming

Author: jkutzsch

Creation date:

Evaluation Type: Evaluation Boards

Did you receive all parts the manufacturer stated would be included in the package?: True

What other parts do you consider comparable to this product?: null

What were the biggest problems encountered?: Getting software to actually load and run on my systems. Not sure if it was just patch time for some of them but it took repeated attempts to get the Udemy android app to finally work and I eventually gave up on one of my systems for the T.I. Code Composer since it was always corrupted.

Detailed Review:

Background:

 

This is my first Road Test for Element 14 and my first Online course such as this.  I have spent decades working in the IT fields and the majority of my training has been in person with hands on classes.  I have of course also studied through books supported with online testing on my own, but this type of online training complete with interaction of others online and materials being sent was new.  All of this was a huge reason I requested to partake in this Road test and I have to say I appreciate it greatly that I was given the opportunity.  Overall, I believe the combination of Udemy and T.I. provides for excellent learning opportunities!

 

Pros:

  1. Individual speed/attendance.  Why is this important?  For me there were multiple reasons.  First off I work a swing shift schedule that means standard class participation is impossible.  One of the reasons I have not attended training in a long time.  Being as my job requires 24/7 staffing, taking time of requires a good amount of for thought and planning, attending a semester at the tech college just wasn't going to be able to happen.  In addition I am a father to 8 children, now some of these children have reached adulthood and moved out but we still have 5 school age children, one of whom has Autism Spectrum Disorder.  Flexibility in attending/participating in training was so great!  With the Holidays and various needs of my family constantly popping up a "normal" class would have been dropped.  Finally we are in the process of selling our home and moving into a new home.  If you have participated in the experience yourself you will recognize the fact that you have to be able to leave your home at a phone call with minimal notice kind of impacts training you might be taking at home.  :-)
  2. Excellent materials, both online as well as the physical materials sent by Element 14 with Texas Instruments.  Instructor was great, being able to interact with others, or even just read what others may be having issues with provided interesting insight.  The information shared/taught was of interest and has me looking at other Udemy and T.I. courses out there!
  3. Udemy offers an Android Application, this is especially useful when you are looking at a few videos coming up.  Being able to quickly jump over and watch or re-watch a part of the class was especially nice when I was waiting in the car to pick kids up, at the Doctors office, waiting while the wife was shopping, or any of the other multitude of opportunities that seem to arise in todays world of hurry up and wait.  :-)
  4. Being able to keep the materials for repeating course work or your own exploration.  With so much available to download and code saved into your Code Composer Studio, I see myself using this again and again.  Plus having the actual materials in my own possession is great!  Previously I have taken classes where all of the cool hardware stayed at the training facility, since the training facility is now your location, you have all the hardware!

My son enjoyed coming over and changing variables to change the results to board.  I can see him working on this in the future as well!

 

 

Cons:  I don't really have any Cons per se to share for this course.  A couple of caveats though just for new people to be aware of to speed up the process of enjoying and participating in the course:

  1. I mentioned above that Udemy has an Android Application that is great to use.  Have patience installing it and getting it to work.  Perhaps I just had an odd Android patch version but it took about 3 days for me to get a fully working application installed and it truly to work.  For some reason it would keep acting like it would play a video but nothing actually played.  Finally on the 3rd day it all worked.
  2. Code Composer Studio.  Once again, patience.  I had a terrible time getting it correctly installed.  I have a small Asus that I was trying to setup as my training system and I was never able to get it to install and instead had to go over to another larger system.  You will need admin rights as well so if you are using a shared system of some type be prepared to get the rights/person to help install it.  Even on the larger system I could never just download the installer, I kept getting errors and went through the website looking for solutions which pointed me to an offline installer.                  In between the T.I. site having maintenance while I was trying to do this, Anti-virus not liking the software and just general it didn't want to work via installer, my final solution was offline installation.  In the "Let's Get Started".pdf, steps 5-10, they go over installing the studio software and assume you can download it and it all works without any problems.  They then go through steps on the specifics of installing, such as locations and which packages you will need.  Interestingly enough, way down at step 19, they mention an offline installer option and provide a link to the latest version.  If this would have been step 11, I would have been saved a good amount of time searching the website and downloading files.  Even after finding a link for the offline installer, getting the rights to install and installing the Studio, I then discovered that for what ever reason the site had linked me to an older version and so I then had to re-download the latest Studio V6.  Once it is all installed and working though you really start to enjoy the software as you go through the lessons!
  3. Speaking of lessons, if you have any type of OCD you might notice some of the code does not quite line up with the actual flow of the class.  It is okay, it most likely is just the next step that they will be showing you.  I made a simple mistake while "cleaning" up my code and when I compared my code to the sample code was distracted because the sample code was actually code that would be done in the next step.  The real problem was I had deleted too many things that were actually necessary and the change in the code had no impact.

 

Summary:

     Would I recommend this course and the kit from Element 14 to a friend/coworker?  Yes!

     Am I interested in looking at more courses from Udemy, and Kits from T.I./Element 14?  Yes!

     Definitely a good source of training!

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