S11 Work with programmable systems

Posted: October 10, 2010 in Systems and Control

I have never worked with programmable systems before, it was certainly a first and was actually quite a  daunting prospect.  Although having looked at the complexity of Steve’s alarm clock I realized that the PIC 08 chip was merely a drop in the ocean.

I used this chip for my ambiance light and having printed the PIC 08 template circuit from the picaxe website and manufactured the PCB it was time to try and attempt to program the chip.

The PIC is a Programmable Integrated Circuit micro controller and is basically a computer on a small chip.  It has a processor and a memory that will run a program responding to inputs and controlling outputs.  It is able to achieve complex functions which would normally require several integrated circuits.

Although I was a little apprehensive before using the PIC chip I actually found the PICAXE system fairly user friendly.  It uses a standard computer (my laptop) to program and re-program the PICs, all I needed was a download lead.  There was extensive documentation to download off  www.picaxe.co.uk and all I needed to do was work out how to use the PICAXE programming editor to transfer the information I wanted to control my ambiance light from the program to the chip.

The programming editor was like a more complex version of flowel.  There were inputs and outputs but they had to be assigned to the corresponding number on the 8 pin chip.  At first I found the program a little frustrating but once I got used to it and started to think about the way the current was travelling through the circuit and how the inputs were effecting it I found it a fairly simple package.  Of course that could be something to do with the fact that I purposely chose an easy program to start off with, but I got to grips with the basics of it and would not feel as intimidated if I wanted to produce something a little more complex.

Here is the program that I downloaded onto the chip

picaxe for ambience light.cad

It is worth noting that the PIC is static sensitive and can be damaged when touched  because your body may have become charged with static from your clothes for example.  So be careful when handling as it can lead to stressful and lengthy fault finding!

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