October 2005


The PICAXE Microcontroller Is Here!

I received the PICAXE Solderless Breadboard Package 10/28/05. I was guessing that the package would consist of the electronic parts for building the development system but that's what I get for thinking! The development system was already built on the solderless breadboard: talk about customer service!! I took the LED program that was sent with the development system, created a flowchart using the Program Edit software and ran a simulation event. The control logic worked as design. From there, I created the BASIC code and downloaded the program to the PICXAE-08 microcontroller. The Red LED began flashing at the specified BASIC 'pause' instruction delay rate. I have a pics of the development system on the Sci-Tech Photo Gallery. I'll be experimenting with this unique chip for a extended period time along with the Handy Cricket. The first thing I plan on doing is to add this circuit onto the Radio Shack Electronics Learning Lab solderless breadboard, thereby creating a portable microcontroller development system. I'll post my results in a future blog.


The PICAXE Microcontroller

I came across a neat microcontroller called a PICAXE from the Makezine website. Its' basically a Microchip "16F" series of 8 bit microcontroller. The cool thing about this microcontroller is the software. To program the chip is basically to create a flowchart and download the code to the target microcontroller. The flowchart's logic can be tested by running a simulation event. After the simulation results satisfy the hobbyist, a 'BASIC' programming code can be generated. The software is free which makes it great for evaluating the product prior to purchasing a development system. These two features remove the complications of programming microcontrollers allowing an individual to focus on the behavioral control logic of the smart gadget project.

I've ordered a PICAXE development system from Peter Anderson for about $16.00. As stated in my 9/19/05 post, this chip has potential in developing Personal Fabrication activities for the book because of its ease of use. This cost makes it great for hobbyists, students, and inventors who want to make smart gadgets without the hassle of learning a high level programming language. I plan to post some projects using this unique microcontroller chip on this website in the near future. I'm also contemplating adding a project or two into the Handy Cricket Robo Hacks book-we'll see. Stay Tune!