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Re: [rsa] Getting started with PICs

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  • Jeanette Eya-Zeissig
    Hello Folks, I haven’t been very active in the club lately, but I’ve been using PIC’s since I first got into robotics, so I thought I’d give some input
    Message 1 of 4 , Sep 23, 2003
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      Hello Folks,

      I haven’t been very active in the club lately, but I’ve been using
      PIC’s since I first got into robotics, so I thought I’d give some input
      to this thread.

      The route that I used to get started is, unfortunately, no longer
      available as an option; which is very sad, because it was so simple
      that I was writing usable assembly code and programming 16C84’s within
      two hours of assembling the various components. The development system
      was the elegant and intuitive MacPic for Macintosh written by Kevin
      Coble. This came with an integrated simulator that is simply a joy to
      use, and very fast as well, being limited only by the speed of the
      machine on which it is running. I still use this system for the chips
      that it supports. I’m working on a project right now using PIC16F84’s,
      and I’m so happy that I can work it in MacPic, rather than MPASM and
      MPSIM (Which I’ve yet to figure out how to use!).

      I use MacPic with a Francis Deck programmer, which is very simple and
      cheap, and can be set up easily on a Jameco solderless breadboard, if
      so desired. Kevin abandoned development and distribution of the
      original MacPic several years ago, so it was never updated to support
      the 16F87X series of PICs.

      Working with multi-legged robots with lots of sensors, one never seems
      to have enough MCU pins. I wanted to use the PIC16F877, so I got a
      Microchip ICD (in-circuit-debugger) board and cable setup through Peter
      Anderson’s website. This included the ICD board, cable to the computer,
      and a cable to a solderless breadboard. The package cost $89 a couple
      of years ago. At the time, Microchip was selling the ICD only with
      their development board, at about twice the price of The ICD board
      alone from Peter. Putting the PIC on a solderless breadboard means that
      you can set it up in the circuit that it is targeted for, and program
      and debug your code in the context of all the other components. It’s
      very slick and really cuts down the development time. The only problems
      are that it pre-empts PORTB for the programming/debugging, and it runs
      in MPLAB, which is an incredibly idiosyncratic and counterintuitive
      interface. I bought a cheap, old Pentium computer that serves as a
      platform for this system.

      When I was starting out I found Easy Pic’n and the other books from
      Square 1 Publishing to be very helpful. Also Peter Anderson’s site had
      many examples of code for running stepper motors and all sorts of other
      things. Of course the Piclist is always a vast source of code nuggets
      if you’re willing to do a little mining. I hope this helps any of you
      getting started with PICs.

      John Zeissig


      To see the 'bot: http://home.att.net/~jZeissig/Bot.html
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