1. Kingsparks

    Thread Starter Member

    May 17, 2011
    118
    5
    Hi Everyone.

    I hope this is right, starting a new thread that is. If not I'm reasonable sure I will learn the correct way to go about this.

    First an apology for not participating for so long. I had some health problems, I hope the past tense is accurate but you never know. I was in and out of our local hospital so many times people started thinking I was one of the staff. Then there was/is the recovery.

    I think I am on the road to health, 70 years old so, again, who knows?

    Enough of that, I have a question or rather I am asking for some advice. I want to start learning about PIC. I have seen a lot on the Arduino? Spelling?? I think that's right although I have never heard it so have no idea of pronunciation. No matter, I read a lot, have read a lot researching this and others.

    Can any of you comment or give me your opinion on rather this is the best to start with? You will have to keep in mind I am retired and trying to get by on Social Insecurity.

    With that in mind I need something inexpensive but not junk. (Is there such an animal?) I would rather wait a month or two until I can save enough to get something I won't have to, or want to replace next month when I know enough to ask intelligent questions. That's why I said "Inexpensive", in lieu of cheap.

    Thanks for helping and I am looking forward to your response and to participating here again.

    Roland
     
  2. takao21203

    Distinguished Member

    Apr 28, 2012
    3,577
    463
    Get a STM8 board or a K150 PIC programmer.
    They are both available in the $10 to $15 range.

    Get some 16f1824 or 16f1828 they cost $1.50 or so each.

    The Arduino also is not expensive, however the various accessory boards are not cheap.

    PICKIT3 might be a bit expensive at 60 to 80 dollar, but you can also get a clone for only $30.

    If you only have $100 or $200 to spend, it can really depend if you can get a small box with a few single pieces, or a larger box with many different components. Prices out there can vary from 3x to 10x the price you really need to pay. It is often the same components, not any better or worse.

    Geared at the student or hobbyist with too much money, willing to spend $30 or $50 on each circuit.

    Typically my boards all cost less than $5 to build.

    A true hobbyist however depends on a schematic and an instruction leaflet. These cost a lot of money to write and to print.
     
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  3. tshuck

    Well-Known Member

    Oct 18, 2012
    3,531
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    Good to hear to are feeling better!

    The Arduino is an abstracted view of microcontrollers and has tons of libraries to accomplish pretty much whatever you want. The microcontroller on an Arduino(you had the right spelling) is an AVR, more specifically, typically a flavor of the AtMega series.

    There are also things like the PICAXE and the BASICStamp for beginners. The PICAXE is pretty cool, but once outgrown and moving to PIC, more/new hardware is required.

    AVR and PIC both do the same thing, but in slightly different ways. Most people here seem to use PICs, but know AVR well enough. I am included in this grouping.

    So, long story short, I think the Arduino board is a good place to start and allows you to move on to the bare AVR if your decide to get your hands dirty with what the microcontroller is.
     
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  4. thatoneguy

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 19, 2009
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    Getting started, price wise (and I am biased :p):

    PICAXE: $25 starting, $2-$5 per project after per uC (Microcontroller). Programmed in BASIC or Flowcharts. Easy to learn.

    Arduino: $25 and upwards, can get expensive quick when using easy to use shields. $25 and up per project after initial (programmer is on-board). Tons of existing code on the Internet, so many projects that the platform is capable of have been done, copy and pasting together existing code plus large libraries allows rapid development of applications. Programmed in C, which is a bit of a learning curve if you aren't familiar with it.

    BASIC Stamp: $50 and up per project, $50 and up per project after, no major advantage over PICAXE (it's slower, even). Not recommended, over-priced.

    PIC/AVR: $50 to get started, $0.50-$3 per project after (for the microcontroller). Programmed in either C or BASIC, both the code and set up is more involved than any of the "starter choices", but very flexible and fast.

    My personal suggestion: PICAXE, then Arduino to learn C and use some pre-made shields (you are more "abstracted" from hardware with Arduino than PICAXE or any other option). If you need more speed than either of those two, a PIC Development environment, I use BoostC mostly for development (some MPLAB) and a PICKit 2 or 3 to program the ICs.

    PICAXE is great for proof of concept, etc. It can also easily replace many 555 timer circuits for example, providing a lower parts count and cost than a 555 solution would. Also more flexible in same. Arduino and others can also replace timer circuits, but it's a bit wasteful to buy a system with 20 I/O pins only to use 2 of them.
     
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  5. Kingsparks

    Thread Starter Member

    May 17, 2011
    118
    5
    Thanks everyone.

    thatoneguy, I take it when you mention "Basic" programing you are talking about the standard basic, right. I got pretty good with that until; my job forced me to work ten and twelve hours a day plus travel four different states.

    I had to step back at that time and by the time I could devote some "spare" time to it, programing had moved on.

    If I can do at least some of the programing in basic that sounds good to me. Or am I misunderstanding you?
    Roland
     
  6. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
    7,386
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    No misunderstanding, this is the same Basic, though it seems no two Basic's work quite the same.

    What kind of things interest you, what do you want the PIC to do?

    Light a LED?
    Beep a speaker?
    Display letters and numbers?
    Play stereo music off an SD card?
    Show maps on a color touch screen?

    All these things are possible, I've done all this with various PICs.

    How are your assembly skills? Would you prefer a pre-built and tested board, or want to walk on the wild side and roll your own?
     
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  7. Ron H

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 14, 2005
    7,050
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    Hear Arduino pronounced in Italian (near the top of the page) and in English (near the bottom).

    I hope your health continues to improve. I know from whence you cometh. :)
    I'll be 72 on Sunday, and I just finished radiation treatments for prostate cancer, 42 treatments, 5 days a week, for 8.5 weeks. I'm feeling great, but who knows what the future holds.:eek:
     
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  8. Kingsparks

    Thread Starter Member

    May 17, 2011
    118
    5
    Hey Ron. My best for your health also. My problems are not that bad, just hurt a lot. I went to the pronunciation. The English version has one more syllable then I would have used but not that far off. Of course, had I heard it not knowing what it was I might have been lost. Thanks for the link, I'll keep it as I read a bunch and at times I get curious about just that.
     
  9. Kingsparks

    Thread Starter Member

    May 17, 2011
    118
    5

    Hi ErnieM.

    None of the above/All of the above. Really not any of them but things like motor control, and mostly just to learn.

    I am a "roll your own" all the way. Almost forty years as a technician and component level repair, none of this board swapping. Truth be known, we, that is my company, repaired a lot of boards for the hospitals although the manufactures didn't particularly care for it they still kept us on for service. Hospital equipment, might help if you knew what I was talking about.

    So, electronics have been my love for all my life but I'm not an EE. Just a technician. I have had it as a hobby right along and now I can't get around as good as I once did I'm falling back on it. Still love it.

    Assembly is not a problem, well some.. I have had shaky hands all my life but with all the medicines I have to take now it's more like the vibrate, all over the place. No matter, just slows me down some, doesn't stop me. I used to teach proper method for soldering and I'm still good at that as long as I brace the iron. HA!

    Roland
     
  10. thatoneguy

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 19, 2009
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    Yes, it's the BASIC language, but with extra or different commands to be specific to microcontrollers. The while loops and such are the same syntax as other BASIC languages.

    You can play with it by downloading the completely FREE full development environment from the Picaxe Home Page.

    Download PICAXE manuals 1, 2 and 3 for examples of code. The benefit here is that you can write and simulate code without any hardware attached. The Arduino "sketch" system doesn't have an integrated debugger/simulator, which is a large oversight on their part.
     
  11. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
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    Nice to meet you Roland. Sounds like you have a solid base of skills to apply. Putting this stuff together is an art all on it's own.

    I'm a dedicated PIC guy. They may not be the best and there are certainly other devices that are comparable. I do like the free compilers and libraries I can download for them. I've been collecting programmers for a long time, have obsoleted a few, so the hardware I need to get them going is not an issue for me.

    Motors... not so much, I'll have to leave you with the other people here who have the practicable experience with them.
     
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  12. Kingsparks

    Thread Starter Member

    May 17, 2011
    118
    5
    Thanks thatoneguy. Also everyone who has responded.
    I like the idea of being able to work with the basic, or code without any hardware. Sounds like a good way to be sure and I am going to visit Picaxe home page in a few minutes. Thanks once more.
    Roland
     
  13. Kingsparks

    Thread Starter Member

    May 17, 2011
    118
    5

    Good to meet you also Ernie.

    Motors was just off the top of my head. I had been visiting a forum on robots chasing down, or trying to, an idea and they were on my mind because they had a lot to say about different methods for control of them. If I did a motor it would be just for the learning experience. I guess what I want is the experience and to learn the capabilities involved, at least an introduction to them.

    I have looked around since the post and am amazed at the prices you can get a Picaxe for. I had no idea they were that inexpensive. I have been reading about them but had not got around to looking or pricing any.

    Thanks again and take care.

    Roland
     
  14. thatoneguy

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 19, 2009
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    I suggest This Package for starting in PICAXE. It has one of about everything you'll use when starting off. The price is great.


    Another great source of PICAXE chips is Anderson

    Service from both is Top Notch. Aztec is partly owned by a Canadian member of this forum as well.
     
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  15. Kingsparks

    Thread Starter Member

    May 17, 2011
    118
    5

    That is fantastic. The starter package looks like just the thing and your mentioning support saved me from having to ask about that aspect. I was thinking I would not be able to do anything until my next check, the end of the month but at that price....

    I'll sleep on it tonight but am pretty sure come morning I will be putting in an order.

    I would assume the starter package gives full instructions on, well getting started I guess?

    Thanks, that looks like it was made to order, and I guess it was.

    Roland
     
  16. thatoneguy

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 19, 2009
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    I don't think the starter set includes a manual, that's pretty well covered in the picaxe manuals, hardware in part 1, commands in part 2, and example applications in part 3.
     
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  17. Kingsparks

    Thread Starter Member

    May 17, 2011
    118
    5

    That's okay then and you did mention the manuals as being available on line. I forgot that but now I think I'll see if I can access them.

    I did put the home page in my favorites, I guess I just overlooked that at the time.

    I also downloaded the programing editor or whatever it's called. Of course it doesn't mean much until I know how to start but I have it.

    Roland
     
  18. thatoneguy

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 19, 2009
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    The manuals can be downloaded the same place as the editor.

    The editor also does simulation, no hardware required, so you can play around and "see" the outputs switching with an animated IC.
     
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  19. tracecom

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 16, 2010
    3,869
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    The manuals are part of the programming editor download. Just pull down the help tab.
     
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  20. Kingsparks

    Thread Starter Member

    May 17, 2011
    118
    5


    I saw that, the simulation in the menu when I checked it out. Need to get some program going to see it in action.

    I just got back from the home page and got all three manuals plus the user guide for the starter kit. Glanced into the users guide real quick and the language they are using is almost familiar. I think I can learn it in a short time but then I always get a lot from reading.

    That's my second love and I go into withdrawal real bad if I skip more then a day and don't read something. HA! :)

    Seriously though, I have always been a big reader. I have good reading comprehension also so we will see.

    Thanks.

    Roland
     
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