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Old 12-03-2009, 03:18 PM   #1
cfellows
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Default CNC Dividing Head - PICAXE microcontroller

After reading about Marv's plunge into the Basic Stamp world, I started doing some extensive research on microcontrollers. I've found a pretty good amount of information and some real good project examples on the PICAXE microcontroller. The most amazing bit is the their free (yes, it's really free) programming editor and simulator. It really works slick. It provides an environent where you can specify which microcontroller your using, then you can write your Basic code, and then run it in simulation mode. It shows the steps through the program and also provides a display of the microchip with the state of it's pins and the contents of the variables. You can click on the input pins to change their state and watch how your program handles these changes. This is a great way to get your feet wet with microcontrollers, write actual programs, and see how the microcontroller behaves, all at no cost.

Here is a picture of the editor with my dividing head program and the microcontroller showing pin states and variables:



Extensive documentation and information is available at the PICAXE website which is located in the UK.

http://www.rev-ed.co.uk/picaxe/

I just bought a kit from this fellow http://www.phanderson.com/picaxe/index.html which includes everything you need to get started, including the interface to your PC for download the programs to your microcontroller and the power supply. Cost with shipping was about $30. I haven't received the kit yet and have been doing all my learning with the free editor / simulator.

This is my first foray into the microcontroller world. I was a programmer for many ears, but that was many years ago. I was able to pick this back up pretty quickly and I'm pleased with how fast I was able to get something running.

There are several distributers located in the US and I just bought a kit from a


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Old 12-03-2009, 03:52 PM   #2
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Default Re: CNC Dividing Head - PICAXE microcontroller

Chuck,

I hope you'll take the time to take a couple of snaps of the evaluation kit when you get it and then, after using it a while, write up your impression of it. I'm sure that I'm not the only one who would like to hear a hands-on evaluation from a trusted source.


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Old 12-07-2009, 02:51 PM   #3
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Default Re: CNC Dividing Head - PICAXE microcontroller

This microcontroller stuff is kind of addicting. I've gotten sidetracked a little bit by another microcontroller system called Arduino. It's an open source microcontroller prototyping platform and there is ton's of stuff on the internet about it. Here's a link to their main website and a picture of the microcontroller board that costs about $30 at a lot of different electronics & Hobbyists websites.

http://www.arduino.cc/

Still waiting for my PICAXE circuit to arrive in the mail, but have been doing lots of playing with the PICAXE programming editor and simulator. Got my dividing head program pretty well debugged and working. This is fun! My old head is spinning with the possibilities.

Chuck
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Old 12-07-2009, 03:25 PM   #4
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Default Re: CNC Dividing Head - PICAXE microcontroller

Hi Chuck,

This is an interesting topic and I'm glad to see it pop up. I played with some PICBasic and hardware from Micro Engineering Labs, Inc. several years ago. I got sidetracked though and didn't keep working with it.

You probably know this, but Nuts & Volts Magazine runs quite a few aricles on microcontrollers. Joe Pardue writes the Smiley's Workshop series and he is currently writing about the Arduino. www.smileymicros.com

Nuts and Volts also runs a column on the Picaxe.

Please keep us tuned in on your adventures with the micro controllers.

Regards,

Chuck Kuhn

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Old 12-07-2009, 03:55 PM   #5
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Default Re: CNC Dividing Head - PICAXE microcontroller

Chuck; here is another Pic based project that may be interesting to you. It reads the digital caliper readout and then uses a Pic controller to output the data as an RS-232 stream. So, you can get the input into any PC based application.

This is another great use of Pic and Stamp based systems. Just use them as an interface to a PC and then use the power of the PC for serious applications.

http://www.compendiumarcana.com/caliper/
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Old 12-07-2009, 08:12 PM   #6
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Default Re: CNC Dividing Head - PICAXE microcontroller

Quote:
Originally Posted by kuhncw
Hi Chuck,

This is an interesting topic and I'm glad to see it pop up. I played with some PICBasic and hardware from Micro Engineering Labs, Inc. several years ago. I got sidetracked though and didn't keep working with it.

You probably know this, but Nuts & Volts Magazine runs quite a few aricles on microcontrollers. Joe Pardue writes the Smiley's Workshop series and he is currently writing about the Arduino. www.smileymicros.com

Nuts and Volts also runs a column on the Picaxe.

Please keep us tuned in on your adventures with the micro controllers.

Regards,
Chuck Kuhn
Hey Chuck, funny you should mention Nuts & Volts. I just subscribed to it a couple of months ago and was reading through my first copy last night. That's how I ran across the Arduino stuff. Interesting magazine.

Chuck
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Old 12-07-2009, 08:17 PM   #7
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Default Re: CNC Dividing Head - PICAXE microcontroller

Quote:
Originally Posted by black85vette
Chuck; here is another Pic based project that may be interesting to you. It reads the digital caliper readout and then uses a Pic controller to output the data as an RS-232 stream. So, you can get the input into any PC based application.

This is another great use of Pic and Stamp based systems. Just use them as an interface to a PC and then use the power of the PC for serious applications.

http://www.compendiumarcana.com/caliper/
Yeah, this is another area of interest. I really want a DRO for my milling machine but just can't bring myself to mortgage the house to buy one. Not to mention the grief I would get from the Chief Financial Officer! So, I will be following up on this project as soon as I get a little more comfortable with the microcontroller.

Chuck
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Old 12-07-2009, 08:26 PM   #8
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Default Re: CNC Dividing Head - PICAXE microcontroller

"Yeah, this is another area of interest. I really want a DRO for my milling machine but just can't bring myself to mortgage the house to buy one. Not to mention the grief I would get from the Chief Financial Officer! Roll Eyes So, I will be following up on this project as soon as I get a little more comfortable with the microcontroller."

Chuck,

Are you aware of the Shumatech DRO?

www.shumatech.com

It is available as a kit that you build yourself, and either buy a pre-programmed microcontroller, or program your own.

I have built one, and find it invaluable. Much cheaper than a ready-built unit, with most of the functionality!

Regards,

Anthony
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Old 12-07-2009, 08:47 PM   #9
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Default Re: CNC Dividing Head - PICAXE microcontroller

Quote:
Originally Posted by LADmachining
Are you aware of the Shumatech DRO?

www.shumatech.com

It is available as a kit that you build yourself, and either buy a pre-programmed microcontroller, or program your own.

I have built one, and find it invaluable. Much cheaper than a ready-built unit, with most of the functionality!

Regards,

Anthony
Hi Anthony,

Yeah, I've seen their units and have thought long and hard about buying one. May wind up doing that since everything I've read about rolling-your-own DRO's isn't very positive. However, part of the adventure is the journey and if I have enough projects lined up, it will keep me motivated to learn about microcontrollers.

Chuck
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Old 12-07-2009, 08:53 PM   #10
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Default Re: CNC Dividing Head - PICAXE microcontroller

Quote:
Originally Posted by cfellows
The most amazing bit is the their free (yes, it's really free) programming editor and simulator.
But you still have to buy the Pics from them or not?

I like the the pic a lot and have made some useful projects but the programming language I use is assembly together with the Mplab from Microchip also free with a ICD2 programmer. It would be nice, sometimes, to program in basic. My main project is a constant pressure controller fo diesel irrigation pumps with automatic engine start and servo speed control and engine monitor/protection with a 18F452, 16x4 line LCD display, 16 key keyboard, stepper motor servo actuator (controlled by a 12f675), analog 250 psi pressure sensor and speed pick-up. The assembly program's listing is 120 A4 pages long.


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