View Full Version : [SOLVED !] What hardware do I need to get started?

6th January 2005, 03:16
I am contiplating between Proton Basic and Micro Engineering Labs PicBasic Pro. What hardware do I need to get a program from the Proton Basic development suite into a Pic microcontroller? I know with the PicBasic Pro software I need an Epic programmer, but I don't know what is needed with Proton. I am a Basic Stamp user but have been told by Bruce Reynolds at www.rentron.com (http://www.rentron.com/) that I could do much more, much faster, much, much cheaper, with less hardware using Pic's and PicBasic Pro. He also suggested that I look into Proton for the floating point math capabilities.
Can anyone spell out the differences between PicBasic Pro and Proton? I blew a bunch of money in the past on a Atmel STK500 AVR programmer and micros just to have them sitting around collecting dust. (I am going to Ebay them soon to help pay for a new development suite) I just don't want to throw away several hundreds of dollars on more stuff I am too dumb to use.
I love my Basic Stamp stuff. Learning PBasic was a breeze and the micros are simple and straight forward to use as far as pinouts. But they are just to darn expensive to try and take anything into production with. They were great and cheap to get started with because I built all of my own programming and development boards, but at $49.00 a pop for BS2IC's they suck for something I want to produce a hundred or thousand of.
I just need help in making a good buying decision this time. Any links you can provide will also be helpfull.
Thank you from a lowly Stamp user.

6th January 2005, 08:42
Any device that can program a pic can be used by any compiler. I use and recommend the Epic but really the only thing you want to look for is that it has good pic support and is still updated with new devices.

As for comparing Proton+ to Pbpro, it's much much more than just floating point. Pbpro is a dead language, there have been no major upgrades to the command set in years. Down load the manual for Pbpro and then Proton and compare. Pbpro is a macro driven language so if you ever want to look at asm and how the compiler writes it's code, its nigh on impossible while should you want to explore that side Proton is written in clear easy to read ASM.

While your looking in the manuals check out how many different var types there are. Pbpro has bits, bytes and words. Proton has bits, bytes, words, dwords, floats and strings. And thats just for now!

Lastly compare the cost not just at sale time (don't forget to include the IDE's) but over a life time. All minor updates are free with Proton and normally if there is a major upgrade its at very nominal price just designed to cover costs.

Lastly look at GLCD's (see what can be done with that here http://users.picbasic.org/index.php?page=howto&cat=15 ) and the free VSM.

6th January 2005, 08:55
Hi Joe,

You came to the right place !

I started picin' when Stamps first became available several years ago and although I can do ASM I find BASIC much faster to get an end product from.

Proton Basic has many more commands then the Stamp and MEL Picbasic and the forum here is one of the most active around.

Almost any programmer will get you started but the EPIC is a good choice as several of us use it, and it is available from Crownhill as well as several suppliers stateside.

Once you have programmed the bootloader into a device such as the 16F877 or the newer 18F452 you can leave the programmer to one side and load programmes just as you do with Stamps, but without the need for the EEPROM to hold your code.

The developement system supplied by Crownhill is excellent and with it you can do a lot more than you can with Stamps, have a look here http://www.crownhill.co.uk/product.php?prod=365

You could of course build your own using stripboard or if you have plenty of cash you can add on the Proteus simulator and you can then do almost all of your prototyping on the computer.

If you haven't done so already then download the Proton demo and have a look at what is available.

regards, Trevor

6th January 2005, 14:52
Thanks guys for the help. I think I will be going with the Proton Dev package. Now I just need to sell off some stuff to afford it. i.e. My Atmel programmer and Micro's
I am still a little confused on the Boot Loader issue. I took Tim's link and then tried to follow the "What is a Boot Loader" link but it was broken. If I understand it correctly, Proton allows me to program a Bootstrap program over to the Pic that would then allow me to write Proton Basic programs straight to the micro with a couple of lines from a serial port, just like I do now with a Basic Stamp and PBasic? Is that about right? Or can someone give me a more detailed explanation or link to follow? Can any Pic accept a boot loader program?
Thanks again for all your help and advice.

6th January 2005, 16:39
Hi Joe,

Not quite, but almost.

The bootloader simplifies the programming procedure. It is a bit like a bootstrap.

First you write / modify your code then compile it then a bootloader programmer starts on the PC end and tries to reset the PIC, if this cannot be done automatically you can reset the PIC manauly. When the PIC is reset it jumps to the bootloader code which sends a short code back to the PC to initiate downloading of the .HEX code.

If there is no reply from the PC after a reset the bootloader returns the PIC to normal use and runs the PIC programme as usual. The bootloader code sits at the top of PIC memory and allows normal use of the PIC after the intital sequence has run.

regards Trevor.

6th January 2005, 18:06
I took Tim's link and then tried to follow the "What is a Boot Loader" link but it was broken.

Sorry about that. The page was "lost" in the update to the new website. I've knocked up the page again with the original content
here (http://www.picbasic.org/web_get_started_bootloader.php)

Hope this helps,

6th January 2005, 18:12
Ahhh. Now I get it. Thanks guys for helping me figure that out.

David Barker
6th January 2005, 18:36
Also, the loader supplied with PDS currently supports the following devices:

16F870, 16F871, 16F873(A), 16F874(A), 16F876(A), 16F877(A), 16F87, 16F88, 18F242, 18F248, 18F252, 18F258, 18F442, 18F448, 18F452, 18F458, 18F1220, 18F1320, 18F2220, 18F2320, 18F4220, 18F4320, 18F6620, 18F6720, 18F8620, 18F8720, 18F2331, 18F2431, 18F4331, 18F4431, 18F6585, 18F8585, 18F6680, 18F8680, 18F2525, 18F2620, 18F4525 and 18F4620.

Chris Morris
26th January 2005, 05:00
Is there any future possibility that Crownhill will start supplying 16F88 chips preprogrammed with the Microloader bootloader? This would make them extremely useful for the cheap PICAXE boards (used extensively in Schools) as well as converting many 16f84/627/628 circuits (of which there are many) for those who don't gave access to a programmer but would like to use the more powerful PDS in comparison to the simpler lanuages like PIXAXE basic