Velleman PIC development board question

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by Dawud Beale, Jan 13, 2013.

  1. Dawud Beale

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 10, 2012
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    Hi I recently purchased this:

    http://www.vellemanusa.com/products/view/?country=us&lang=enu&id=500373

    It came with a serial port so I bought a USB to serial converter but now see the website says you can't use one. Is this "just in case" or will it genuinely not work as my laptop doesnt have a serial port.

    Also it says I need a DC adapter which didn't come with it, how can I find the correct adapter? On Amazon or somwhere?
     
  2. thatoneguy

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    Feb 19, 2009
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    What does the board say next to the power jack? 5VDC in, or 15VDC in?

    Some USB-RS232 converters will NOT work, while a few will. Generally, the cheap ones that do not support all the signal lines don't work. Look for one labeled "Fully RS-232 Compliant" instead of "RS232 compliant"

    The issue with USB->Serial Adapters not working is in the case of the software running on the computer try to write directly to $3F8 hardware address for COM1 (or $3E8(com3) $2F8(com2) $2E8 (com4)) rather than talking to the WinXP "Serial Interface ComX" API.

    In any case, I'd strongly suggest returning it before assembly, as you will not be able to use it at all.


    A better way to get started is to order the PICKit 2 Debug Express which includes the PICKit 2 programmer (also functions as a signal monitor/generator, TTL UART, and other features, which the PICKit 3 doesn't offer).

    Alternative would be This Board, which supports both PICAXE (BASIC Language built in, < $5/chip, get started FAST! Free simulator/programmer download). The board also can support programming PICs with a PICKit2 Programmer, so you can start with PICAXE and when your projects get bigger, you can "Graduate" to C and raw PICs with more power, I/O, and memory. A Member here created and sells that board after input from users of it. I love mine! My son made a rather complete robot using a PICAXE 20M2, there's a thread in off-topic showing it. You can Get Started with PICAXE for $15 with $10 of that being a 1 time fee, after that, keep ordering more PICAXE chips (8-20 pin) for $2.50-$3.79 each.

    The PICKit3 Debug Express is also an option. For writing PIC code (not PICAXE), I suggest SourceBoost C, due to the features included and mostly, the VERY affordable pricing options. The Free or $5 license will cover most apps you will write until you get very advanced.

    I'd recommend against slugging through learning to do everything in assembly language, or building a DIY programmer such as the JDM clones or parallel port types, they cause more people to give up playing with the coolest chips than everything else combined.

    My Advice: Return the kit you have linked above. Start with PICAXE, or if you know C, then get a good programmer (PICKit 2), and a good compiler (BoostC from sourceboost.com is my pref, but MikroC is popular for more money, as is Hi-Tech or CCS for a LOT more money)

    Arduino is a common option, but then you are "locked in" to a ~2" square, $30 dev board for every project. Adding on features in the form of "Shields" gets the cost over $100 quickly.

    An 8 pin PICAXE with BASIC already loaded is the size of a 555 timer, and can run servos, read analog levels, and do everything else a microcontroller needs to, including make music, for $3!

    --EDIT For Clarity:

    1) I am talking about THREE Different ways to get started, none of which include the board you ordered. In order of preference of suggestion for you based on previous posts:

    • PICAXE (BASIC interpreter and bootloader on a PIC)
    • "Blank/Normal" PICs, programmed in C, flashed with a PICKit 2 or 3
    • Arduino, also programmed in C, but based on AVR rather than PIC
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2013
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  3. Dawud Beale

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    Feb 10, 2012
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    It says 15V DC Adapter

    I have to learn C and Assembler for Uni and we are using the PIC16FX and PIC18FX series PICs so thats why it seemed appropriate. We are also learning MPLAB IDE so I really need to stick to Microchip products
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2013
  4. spark8217

    Member

    Aug 29, 2011
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    i suggest you do what thatoneguy says and return and buy the pickit2 , i made some errors when i was choosing also ,then i purchased the correct pickit and never looked back and then building your own dev boards and applications for better understanding ,this will aid you for better understanding of what is needed and required !!
    spark8217
     
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  5. Dawud Beale

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    Feb 10, 2012
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    Do any of the development boards here have all the same features as the one I had?

    http://www.microchip.com/stellent/i...deId=1406&dDocName=en023805&redirects=pickit2

    It's hard to know what is what with the development boards and what features I'll need etc.

    We're still focusing on basics at Uni, how to access pins, light LEDs, simulate assembler programs and play the progams through using the watch function etc so all tehse various options are a bit confusing to me. Hard to know what features I need but I need a development board as I'd be totally lost with just the PIC by itself.

    I'd love to make my own development boards in future.

    Is the one I already have a lost cause then? Its a shame as it's the only one my local Maplins has
     
  6. thatoneguy

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    Feb 19, 2009
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    With that information, I'd now suggest the PICKit 2 Debug Express kit (Included Examples are in MPLAB Assembly), the PICKit 3 Debug Express kit includes Examples in Microchip C18.

    Though it has been said that sometimes programming in PIC Assembly is about as fun as repeatedly stabbing yourself in the face with a knife.

    Though assembly is easier in the PIC18 series (Internal layout/memory optimized for C compiler output programming also makes assembly easier), the banks can get frustrating when first starting (Steep Learning Curve), once you know it, it isn't so bad. It's odd how that works.
     
  7. spinnaker

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    Oct 29, 2009
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    Add a vote for returning it. Really no need for a dev board. They are nice but not really needed. You could simply by a solderless breadboard.

    I would go with the PicKit3. It will support the newer chips. But the 2 is nice also. Leaving out the fact it does not support newer chips, it is actually a more versatile tool.

    I can't figure out how companies like vellman can continue to sell this junk when the microchip programmers are so cheap.
     
    Last edited: Jan 13, 2013
  8. thatoneguy

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    Feb 19, 2009
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    This is a dev board that works with all DIP based PICs The price is a bit high, but it has an on-board USB based programmer.

    It also includes all the common buttons and outputs most dev boards use, select which are active with jumpers. It is similar to the MikroElectronika EasyPIC Series of boards, but half the price.

    Sadly, the Vellman board you got is pretty useless, as it doesn't have options to use the ICSP pins (neither the 5 pin header for PICKit nor phone jack type connecter for the PIC In Cicuit Debugger system)

    You may want to check your college bookstore or the course curriculum to see what they are suggesting for the exact hardware. They may have all students purchase the same thing, or the students purchase nothing and only use what is in the lab. If the case is the latter (probably an expensive board, or many different specific boards), then you'd want to find out what board(s)/programmer the uni lab uses and get one of those so your projects work without having to re-arrange I/O.
     
  9. thatoneguy

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    In general, I agree with this, though having a minimalist dev board with the programming pins and power connected is nice so when just starting, you know that the code is at fault rather than the programmer, wiring, controller, or code.

    I stand with the PICKit 2 for newbies as it offers the extras of low speed logic analyzer/injector and TTL UART (less money/equipment lost if they lose interest). When one gets to the extra devices the PICKit 3 supports (16 or 32 bit cores, or DSP PICs), it is nice to have support, I have both, and only use the PICKit3 with chips the 2 doesn't support, though an update last year added quite a few that were formerly not supported.
     
  10. Markd77

    Senior Member

    Sep 7, 2009
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    I'd go for the PICKIT2 on it's own (not starter kit) a few PICs and a solderless breadboard.
    Programming the PIC is simple, just need to connect five wires from PICKIT to the PIC, have a look on youtube to see how easy it is.

    You can get programmers from here:
    http://www.rapidonline.com/Electron...IC-Microcontrollers/Development-Systems-Tools
    Free delivery if you spend over £35, which I'm sure it will be by the time you add a couple of PICs, LEDs, solderless breadboard, etc.
    Get one of these as well and you can plug the PICKIT straight into the solderless breadboard.
    http://www.rapidonline.com/Cables-Connectors/Single-Row-PCB-Header-63793
     
  11. spinnaker

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  12. thatoneguy

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    Got links for the videos? I remember an EEVblog video mentioning the differences, but not focusing on them, but haven't seen the Microchip response to it at all.
     
  13. spinnaker

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  14. thatoneguy

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  15. Dawud Beale

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 10, 2012
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    In terms of what equipment we are using at university, currently we are just simulating the programs on MPLAB using assembley and next semester we will go onto c programming. We don't use any hardware.

    Then in the final year we use Arm or another make, we don't use the PIC. So I wanted to get some experience for myself using the PIC hardware. I will consult my teacher but the suggestions here from Microchip seem a pretty sound bet.

    As I lose some features on the PICKit3, which microntrollers will I not be able to use with PICKit2 so I can decide which one is better?

    Also as there is a different range of kits, e.g. starter etc, which one is the best to go for in terms of the most features and if I was to go for a development board initially, which ones would people recommend?

    Unfortunately I no longer have the packaging for my development kit so could i program the PIC with the PICKit2 and then use the board for testing?

    Can anyone recommend the correct power supply from amazon or maplins or another well known reputable online source?
     
  16. thatoneguy

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    I just noticed, that board does have an ICSP programmer in the upper right corner of the image.

    You could power the PIC (and Debug it in circuit) with the PICKit 2 plugged into that programming port.

    The high voltage (15V) is only used for high voltage programming and for ±12V RS-232 communication. The PIC, buttons, and LEDs operate at 5V, which you can set the PICKit2 to output to power the circuit (up to 400mA or so).

    Look for a 7805 or 78L05 regulator after the power jack. If there is one, you should be able to use a 9V SMPS Supply, common for powering Arduinos to power the circuit to run. The lower voltage won't allow you to program through serial port (which can't be done anyway due to software issues), and possible not use the serial port, unless there is a MAX232 with charge-pump to convert the output of PIC UART to RS-232).

    There should be a schematic in the kit box that would show the regulator and MAX232, if present.
     
  17. Dawud Beale

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 10, 2012
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    Is there different versions of the PICKit2 or is it just different packages with different goodies thrown in but the actual PICKit2 or 3 itself the same?

    I am thinking I will buy one but not sure about the different packages but if I can always buy the extra add ons later then I guess I need not worry.
     
  18. Dawud Beale

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    Feb 10, 2012
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    If I'm purchasing in the UK should I click the link given earlier that leads to Microchip Express or does Microchip have a distributor in the UK?
     
  19. thatoneguy

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    The Code/schematic for the PICKit 2 was released, so there are many clones around.

    I'd suggest ordering the Debug Express kit directly from Microchip. Here is what you are looking for. Digi-Key and Mouser both sell those kits, I believe RapidOnline does as well. Just be sure the supplier is Microchip, rather than a clone company. That ensures you get the full documentation and examples in a nice box. :)

    --ETA: RapidOnline UK Link for Above Product. 32.75 pounds
     
  20. Dawud Beale

    Thread Starter Member

    Feb 10, 2012
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    What is the in debug kit that isnt in the basic kit and can the extra's be purchased later?
     
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