This is just a quick blog post to mention that I've added a shopping cart to the site just for books. I hope to expand it with products that support the books and any kickstarter products but for now I'll rely on Howtronics.com for all that. I have my C Books discounted lower than Amazon though I do charge $5 flat rate shipping even outside USA.
You can see the books by clicking on the Buy Books menu item or just click here.
If I had a dollar for every time someone told me 8-Bit micros are dead, I'd have a lot of dollars. Fact is the old 8-Bit still has a strong life. The price has gotten so cheap you can easily build a project with more than one and still not break the bank. I prefer to use Microchip PICs so the PIC10F, 12F, 16F and 18F part number prefixes are the ones I refer to.
The Arduino is based on the 8-bit AVR and that is one of the most popular platforms for hobbyists. But I'm not talking just hobbyists. As the price of the latest 8-Bit micros comes down to below $0.50 in high volume, 8-Bit microcontrollers can be put in places where a micro has never been before.
Consider the 8 pin PIC12F683 which is a rather old device now. It still has so many capabilities in a small 8-pin DIP package. I use it in my book "Programming PICs in BASIC". You can get 100 of them for $1.12 each at digi-key and probably cheaper if you shop around. You can get far more powerful parts now for even less.
I just recently tried to visit the Microchip PICkit 2 site and found it was taken down. This prompted me to make sure I had everything for my own PICkit 2 project covered. Which reminded me that I've been wanting to cover an update, to the PK2CMD command line control, that I found a while ago.
I like using the PICkit 2 with the PK2CMD.exe command line control. I can embedded it into any IDE with ease and automate the programming of the microcontroller through the PICkit 2 programmer. The limitation of the Microchip released PK2CMD vs the PICkit 2 GUI control was they used different device files and the PK2CMD didn't support as many devices as the GUI supported. The GUI supported more of the latest devices but neither supported the PIC18F25K22 which is an awesome device.
But several years ago a Microchip forum post by MichaelS explained that he figured out how to modify the PK2CMD to work with the device file for the GUI. So this meant that the PK2CMD v1.21 by MichaelS could support all the parts that the GUI supported. And if that GUI device list was ever updated, then the PK2CMD would also get updated by that same file.
Unfortunately the PICkit 2 Device file hasn't been updated by Microchip since the PICkit 3 is the officially supported low cost programmer for the newer devices. And now the PICkit 2 site that had all the archived info is no longer up (at least that I can find). MichaelS had also updated the device.dat file to include more parts including the PIC18F25K22. So I've added the MichaelS 's PK2CMD v1.21 and his latest Device File to my PICkit 2 page. But the story continues.....
I uploaded the ExpressPCB files for the PK2 programmer I created. I had the board layout and schematic on my PK2 webpage but didn't have the files. So now you can download them and make your own.
I posted them as non commercial, for personal use only. For those that just want to make a couple of their own PK2 programmers (it's always good to have a couple around), then the files are there to use. If a Boy Scout troop wanted to make them as a project, that's ok too. If a high school wants to use the design as a class project then fine. See where I'm going with this? I want to help ...
Geoff Graham, the brilliant creator of the Maximite Computer, recently announced a beta release of a Maximite on a chip called MicroMite. He stripped down the MMBASIC interpreter he wrote for the Maximite Computer and fit it on a 28 pin DIP PIC32MX1/2 micro. And you program it with a simple terminal program running on a PC.
He released the .hex file and documentation to those willing to beta test it and I signed up. He suggested a PICkit 3 to load the .hex file into a blank PIC32MX part but I decided to use a Microstick II module. It has a PICkit 3 programmer built in (called the PKOB or PICKIT On Board). It also comes with a PIC32MX250 and USB cable for $34.95.
I loaded the .hex file, that Geoff supplied, into MPLAB X and
Microchip recently released the Code Configurator for 8-bit PICs. Its a great software tool for creating software projects. Its a simple plugin for MPLABX IDE and through a series of GUI screens you can select the peripherals you want to use and then set them up with a few clicks from radio buttons or drop down menus.
The configuration settings and I/O setup is also reduced down to a few clicks. When all is selected, you click on the "Generate Code" button and the Code Configurator creates a bunch of setup code and custom functions in the Microchip XC8 C compiler format (which is a free download).
It's already the 4th and I'm just now getting a chance to blog. I've been working on gathering all the parts for my successful Demo-Shield kickstarter project while at the same time working on my next one. I'm excited about the new one so stay tuned, I'll be announcing here first in a future post.
Fulfilling all the rewards for a successful kickstarter is a lot of work. They don't exactly organize things well (though they think they do). I wish they would just switch to Paypal for payments, then creating shipping labels would be a few click process. Right now you have to get your money from Amazon Payments, then send out a survey to backers so they can fill out their address, then download each different .csv file for each reward level and cut and paste the address or retype it into a USPS.com shipping label form. For a technology company that's leading edge of crowdfunding, they are really behind the times.
I was able to ...
I recently helped a reader of my Embedded C Books through the early stages of getting things working properly. Sometimes the little things get in the way such as a compiler that doesn't fully install or a programmer that won't connect up properly with the USB port. These are the issues I can't write a solution for so I offer all my readers email support.
But when they get a faulty tool then that is really frustrating. I recommend the MPLAB 8.30, PICkit 2 and PIC16F690 for my Beginner's Guide to Embedded C books (volume 1 and 2) but sometimes people prefer to use the latest such as MPLABX or PICKit 3. I can't argue against it but until my updated versions are released (hopefully by summer) I still recommend they stick to the tools I use in the books.
But I've recently had two people with tools issues. One had a faulty PICkit 3 and another had a board with some kind of connection issue. I couldn't fix either one and fortunately they both figured out the problem. I hate to hear of a PICKit 3 issue.
I finished my Christmas shopping earlier than usual this year. And a big percentage of it was online. With Amazon Prime I was able to get 2 day shipping on many last minute items. Once I was done, I realized I hadn't stepped a single foot into Radio Shack. Now I'm not saying I'm the difference between them making it or not making it but it's been in many financial reports that Radio Shack has financial troubles.
I've been a supporter of Radio Shack for many years. I learned a lot of my electronics knowledge from the Forrest Mims books. And Radio Shack is where I bought many of the parts for my projects when I was learning.
About 4 years ago, I was contacted by Radio Shack about my books. They were getting the FYI thing going and were looking to stock hobbyist electronics products. I was excited
As I spend more time re-learning the old style BASIC for the new modern day Maximite computer, I'm reminded how far programming has advanced but also how easy BASIC is for me to write programs. I learned it a long time ago and never really forgot it.
Great Cow BASIC has been another BASIC language I use often that I find incredibly easy to get something running on a PIC. Add to that is the fact that I've written 1000's of programs in PICBASIC over the years as well. So I guess I'm just a BASIC language programmer at heart.
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Chuck has been programming with PIC Microcontrollers since there were only five devices. Now there are over 700 and growing. He also has a lot of fun 3D printing designs using his Davinci 3D printer and TinkerCad software. In this series of blog posts and occasional videos on his YouTube Channel he tries to help you get started with electronics and 3D printing.
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