One thing we’ve been keen on over the last 12 months or more, is making our own USB devices. These can be anything – we’ve made miniature instruments and servo controllers amongst other things, but the idea that you can create a device, plug it into a PC and it just works has been really exciting.

Out in the real world – not Nerdland – the rest of the world is busy getting on with mobile phones and tablets and cool things like that. And leaving us PC lovers behind as we look so archaic, sitting hunched over a notebook/laptop in the local coffee shop. The cool kids are too busy swooshing and swishing on their touch screens to worry too much about a few motors chained to piece of rapidly-becoming-obsolete piece of technology!

So we’ve had a bit of a change of heart here at Nerd Towers recently.
Rather than trying to continue denying mobiles and mobile computing, we’re slowly learning to love it. By which, of course we mean, slowly learning to love Android (installing iTunes on a PC is akin to pouring cold tea down the back of the air vents, shudder, Apple, shudder). But developing for Android means getting messy with Java.

Unless you’re already quite proficient with Actionscript (AS3) – then haXe is probably a great place to start. But haXe libraries are pretty limiting. We’ve not found anything that, for example, allows you to communicate with the USB port. So once again we set off looking for a development suite that would compile for Android, and give us access to the USB stack.

Step forward Basic4Android.

Not only is this a brilliant IDE, offering VB-style syntax and a familiar looking environment (you even hit F5 to compile and run your code for goodness sake!) it also compiles to native Android code – so no pesky AIR runtimes and making your apps incompatible with a large share of the market (AIR only runs on devices with ARM7 or better processors – most mid-range phones are still shipping with ARM6 in them).

And the best thing? USB support!
So far, we’ve only got a simple “hello world” app working, but it’s a start.
But already Basic4Android is looking to be quite a powerful bit of kit that could really kit-start some interesting ideas (a bit like Oshonsoft Basic did for our PIC microcontrollers). It’s so great, in fact, that the author is offering a special deal for all of us:

If you like the Basic4Android software, you can buy it from http://www.basic4ppc.com/

Put in the voucher code – coxvau – and you’ll get a massive 50% off!

And we’ll get a year’s worth of free support and upgrades. So everyone benefits! But no-one more than you – when you’ve compiled and released your first app, who knows where it could lead…….