21 11 2008
I'm currently experimenting with a PIC processor. The term microcontroller is actually better, but you know what I mean. It all started when reading about the bitx20 kit. This transceiver has no frequency readout and if you look around you'll notice that everyone is using a PIC or an AVR to build a frequency counter with LCD readout. I knew little about PICs, nothing about AVRs. Not that I dislike AVRs but PIC feels better to me personally. So I bought a Velleman kit to start playing and exploring. It is a programmer and experiment board which contains a pic, few leds and buttons. The CDROM in the kit contained software to program the pic and some assembler examples.
I do write software at my work, but not in assembler. Because I'm not willing to learn assembler the search for a programming environment started. The first freeware compiler I found was Great Cow Basic. Great Cow BASIC is an open-source BASIC compiler for Microchip PIC microcontrollers and works pretty good. But do read the documentation.
Next stop was MikroBasic. Not freeware, but the trial version is enough to get the feeling. If you like programming in C or Pascal then you're right address here. Choose the compiler you want and try it out. Has also a forum with examples and support.So I have a programmer, programming software and a compiler and only one comport. And that comport is used to interface my transceiver to Ham Radio Deluxe. I compiled the PIC on my desktop PC, copied the compiled HEX file to a memory stick. Took my old laptop connected to the Velleman kit and programmed the pic. Very time consuming and it takes too many space on my desk.
Despite reading articles that the Velleman kit does not like USB to RS232 adapters I ordered one in Hong Kong thru the DealExtreme website. It costs only $7,90 and free shipping, not a big waste if it fails. 9 Days later I found the package in my box. My first test with my Garmin GPS failed. No data could be seen in the Windows Hyperterminal. I suddenly realized that Garmin produces only NMEA data if you select this option. Yes it works.
And now the Velleman kit. I dowloaded Winpic from DL4YHF because I read that it supports the Velleman kit and some exotic methods to access the comport. It worked from the second try. I'm happy because I don't have to use my old laptop anymore to programm a PIC.
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