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[DPRG] Getting Into PICs

Subject: [DPRG] Getting Into PICs
From: Dan Creagan dcreagan at bellevue.edu
Date: Thu Nov 15 08:07:28 CST 2001

IF you want to be reasonably serious, get a PicStart Plus programmer from
Microchip, get the book Easy Pic'n by Benson (http://www.amazon.com), buy a
couple of 16F84's, a couple of crystals (10 MHz for both) and take a weekend
to learn assembler.  It isn't too bad if you really want to do it ... those
who complain about Harvard architecture probably haven't looked at it for
longer than a heartbeat... there are only a couple dozen instructions (+) so
it isn't rocket science.

That will blow your $250 or so.

Later, get a compiler to take care of the pageing issues you will run into
when your programs start getting big.  I like Pic C by CCSC
http://www.ccsinfo.com/overview.html - it is cheap and a good choice for
hobbyists (and some pro's by email I've received in the past). But a high
level language is usually not a substitute for knowing the underlying
assembler.  Learn assembler first and you will never be at the mercy of a
third party language.

You can see some of the C code that I made from the assembler in Easy Pic'N
at: http://academic1.bellevue.edu/robots/pic1.html. That link might also
show you what it takes to set yourself up to learn it all.

Dan Creagan

-----Original Message-----
>From: dprglist-admin at dprg.org [mailto:dprglist-admin at dprg.org]On Behalf
Of Patrick Innes
Sent: Wednesday, November 14, 2001 6:53 AM
To: DPRGlist at dprg.org
Subject: [DPRG] Getting Into PICs

Hi there!

This may qualify as a "Frequently-Asked Question",

Recently, I've been working out the planned details of
a 'bot I plan to build.  In order to reduce the load
on the main processor (planning on a Stamp of one
flavor or another), I would like to use a
multi-controller sort of architecture.  The plan is to
use a number of smaller "outboard" processors to
handle things like running sensors, positioning
servos, returning formatted data about what the
sensors see, etc.

My reading and research has pointed me in the
direction of PICs.  From what I've seen, they're
versatile, reprogrammable, fast, and (most
importantly) cheap.  I also understand that there are
software packages out there that allow you to program
them with a modified form of BASIC, which is another
plus for me, as my C is shaky, and my assembly

At this point, I've pretty much figured out that PICs
are a good way to approach the problem, but I'm not
really sure about the best way to get started with
them.  I've seen several books on the market, each
with glowing reviews claiming that they are "the
single best reference out there".  Same goes for
various programmer units on the market, from $15 kits
to $500 units.

As cash is sort of an issue, I'd rather get some
advice before dumping a lot of money into something
that may turn out to be an expensive paperweight --
but I also don't want to get stuck with something that
was cheap but doesn't work well.  Something in the
"$200 or less" range would probably be a workable
option for me.

I know I'll probably get lots of conflicting answers,
but any help you can give me will help point me in the
right direction.


-- Patrick
   Frederick, MD

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