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DPRG: Real good riddle.

Subject: DPRG: Real good riddle.
From: Kevin Ross kevinro at nwlink.com
Date: Sat Jul 26 20:48:08 CDT 1997

If you are planning on building robots, and haven't built anything else
before, I would probably recommend that you NOT try the PIC chip right off
the bat. Why?

1) You end up having to buy programming hardware, as you described below.
2) The PIC chips are outstanding microcontrollers, but are not very feature
rich. You need to understand exactly what you are getting. There are larger
chips available, but the EPIC Plus programmer may not support them. 
3) RISC instruction sets are actually a poor choice as your first assembler
language to learn. The require some expertise to get started with. 

A quick price comparison:

> PBasic compiler,($99 when purchased alone)
> EPIC Plus Programmer($60but that is only a programmer, with no cables or 
> adapter. The one with the 40 pin adapter and cables and AC adapter costs 
> $99)
> AC Adapter($10)
> 25 Pin cable($10)
> PIC Proto18 ($10)
> PIC16F84 ($7)

68HC812E2 ($18)
	Has A/D
	Has 24 I/O pins
	Has Serial I/O built in
	Has timer section
	Has 2k EEPROM
	Has 256 bytes RAM
BotBoard I ($6 for board, about $6 for misc parts)
Serial Cable (MAX232 + connectors = $5)
SBasic compiler (Free)
Assembler (Free)
Battery Driven ($3)

Micro-C, a mid-featured C compiler
PCBUG11, a good downloader/debugger is free

Point being: You can have a complete development system, including a very
useful controller board, for about $50. 

If you really do want to get started with the PIC, I would strongly suggest
getting the Microchip PICStart Plus. I have one and it is great. It comes
with some software called MPLAB which is a Windows based IDE environment,
complete with simulator, debugger, editor, and supports downloading. Easily
one of the best integrated development systems I have seen. The PICStart
Plus handles all DIP parts up to 40 pins. Costs $149 from several vendors.

Even if you don't own a PIC, you can download the MPLAB software from
Microchip and play around with the assembler using the simulator. I
programmed up and debugged a large project using the simulator before the
hardware was ever built. The software dropped on the chip already working,
which was REALLY nice. Check out there website and download it.

Microchip has a travelling seminar about the PIC chips. You might check
there website to see if it is going to be in your area anytime soon. It
costs $149, but it comes with the PICStart Plus, data books, 16C84 sample
chips, and a good overview of the PIC architecture. 


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