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# PICaxe Vs PIC

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#### CocaCola

Apr 7, 2012
3,635
If you're going that rout say so now so I don't waste my time. I can tell you with absolute certainty that anything not Picaxe is going to be a h*ll of a harder road to travel.

There is nothing magical about the Picaxe is just a Pic chip with a boot loader and now slightly proprietary custom die and a supplied development package...

It's really a matter of investment vs ease... The Picaxe line is very limited, if you setup and go with Pics themselves you have a HUGE variety of options that open up to you that will make many things 'easier' in the long run...

A time proven compiler like PicBasic Pro is IMO just as easy to learn as PicAxe basic as it's only a very slight syntax difference... And running side by side with the free Microcode Studio IDE (now included) I don't see how it's anymore complicated than a PicAxe... It's just more upfront investment that can pay for itself quickly...

FYI the PicAxe08M2 is just a Pic12F1840

If the PicAxe system works for you go for it, but I'll use all the hardware and compiler I have paid for over and over again over the years and just use the regular Pic chips as it's much 'easier' for me... I will state my latest design that needed onboard USB would have been just a wee bit complicated if I was limited to the PicAxe line vs picking up a Pic that supported it onboard...

As I have said in regards to the Arduino, you have to consider the long term usage... If you are only going to do one or two things here and there, the PicAxe and Arduino are certainly cheap entry level options, but neither has a real long term and productive outlook beyond small hobby usage...

#### CDRIVE

##### Hauling 10' pipe on a Trek Shift3
May 8, 2012
4,960
There is nothing magical about the Picaxe is just a Pic chip with a boot loader and now slightly proprietary custom die and a supplied development package...

<snip>

Yes, I'm quite aware of what a Picaxe is. It's a PIC with a boot loader program and that's where the overhead is. However, it's that boot loader that makes them near natural language. Picaxe basic is very similar to most basics. All the PICs I've seen used C or Assembly, which is no where near as easy to master. I've been a VB programmer for about 12 years so I guess it makes me a bit biased. But lets face it. Picaxe was developed to grab electron heads that haven't bit the PIC hook because they don't want to invest the time involved with C.

My friend and coworker was playing with Stamps and Pics when they were in their infancy. He simply couldn't get me hooked on them, no matter how much bait he waved in front of me. Then one day about four or five years ago he shows me a Picaxe that he fell in love with. I swallowed the hook and so did he. He's never used any other uC since.

A Picaxe will do the job that Justin needs it to do with very little effort. I see no reason to make things harder for him. He can always graduate to eye blurring C code later... when root canals no longer provide enough pain in his life.

#### CocaCola

Apr 7, 2012
3,635
All the PICs I've seen used C or Assembly, which is no where near as easy to master.

You didn't look far did you? PicBasic Pro (previously PicBasic) have been HIGH profile Pic BASIC compilers for the last 15 or so years...

Some other alternatives?

Proton BASIC
Swordfish BASIC
Mikroe BASIC

Want a flowchart pictorial language for PIC's try

Flowcode

You are hardly limited to C and Assembly when using a PIC, although if you want to exploit the full potential of a chip especially in optimization assembly is needed...

I've been a VB programmer for about 12 years so I guess it makes me a bit biased.

I have been doing BASIC programming since 1979 when I was a whooping 8 years old, I'm quite biased to BASIC myself and thus my tendency to lean towards PicBasic Pro for most of my quick and dirty work as I have been using it for as long as you have been doing VB...

But lets face it. Picaxe was developed to grab electron heads that haven't bit the PIC hook because they don't want to invest the time involved with C.

What you need to face is that you don't have to learn C to use a PIC, it's simply one choice and option... And again consider the short and long run, in the short run yes BASIC is an easier learning curve, but in the long run learning C will have it's advantages as it's pretty much become the defacto preferred language across all platforms...

A Picaxe will do the job that Justin needs it to do with very little effort. I see no reason to make things harder for him. He can always graduate to eye blurring C code later... when root canals no longer provide enough pain in his life.

Or he could learn one of the many Pic Basic languages, PASCAL for Pic, or one of the C flavors he never has to learn a lick of C if he doesn't want to... As I previously stated one should really look at their end goal, if they want to be limited and short term with low cost entry yeah the PicAxe is a good alternative... But, if you want to actually grow and expand long term it's simply not the best choice...

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#### CDRIVE

##### Hauling 10' pipe on a Trek Shift3
May 8, 2012
4,960
You didn't look far did you? PicBasic Pro (previously PicBasic) have been HIGH profile Pic BASIC compilers for the last 15 or so years...
<snip>

You're right, I didn't. Does the software include a robust simulator (no chip needed) that includes: Virtual LCD, Virtual Serial Terminal, Virtual LEDs, Virtual Switches, Virtual ADC Source, Virtual Piezo/Speaker, Wav input file, plus a host of other features? Most important..is the software for the editor and or simulator free like Picaxe is?

I have been doing BASIC programming since 1979 when I was a whooping 8 years old, <snip>.

By the time 1979 rolled around I had been married with child, divorced, remarried and was recovering from what we called shell shock and anti-social behavior. They call it something more PC now. I've been an electronics professional since 1967 and was weened on vacuum tubes and leaky Germanium Transistors. 'Miniature' was a 6CW4 Nuvistor. Built my first crystal set in 1953. You're a pup in comparison. Old dogs don't learn new tricks without dragging them growling and snapping. So yeah, Picaxe was the least painful rout to uC's for this old dog.

WOOOF!,
Chris

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#### BobK

Jan 5, 2010
7,682
No, I am basing it on the PIC12F1840 datasheet. It does have pullups. It is possible they are not supported by the PICAXE software, but they are there.

Bob

#### CDRIVE

##### Hauling 10' pipe on a Trek Shift3
May 8, 2012
4,960
No, I am basing it on the PIC12F1840 datasheet. It does have pullups. It is possible they are not supported by the PICAXE software, but they are there.

Bob

Interesting, but I won't know for certain until I read through the new M2 parts manual. Thanks for the tip though.

Chris

#### CocaCola

Apr 7, 2012
3,635
Does the software include a robust simulator (no chip needed) that includes: Virtual LCD, Virtual Serial Terminal, Virtual LEDs, Virtual Switches, Virtual ADC Source, Virtual Piezo/Speaker, Wav input file, plus a host of other features?

I don't simulate in the compiler just not my thing... I choose to simulate in full featured simulators mostly Proteus/ProSPICE when I need to... I have also used several other PIC specific simulators in the past... Simulation software is no good if it doesn't support the devices you are using, and I simply can't be limited to the few PicAxe chips it's simply to limited overall as I tailor the chip to the design needs, not force or try to make a design work with whatever chip because that is all I can use...

Most important..is the software for the editor and or simulator free like Picaxe is?

Re-read my post I clearly stated an investment differences... The PicAxe software is limited to only 7 chips they support, it's a completely different ball game... Apples to Oranges... You can't honestly suggest I compare free software that supports 7 PIC chips to professional level software that supports over 500 PIC chips? Yes of course there is an investment is different, as there is a huge difference it what the software is capable of doing, long and short run...

#### (*steve*)

##### ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd
Moderator
Jan 21, 2010
25,508
PICaxe = simpler and easier for the beginner -- essentially designed for breadboarding. User is insulated from hardware details.

PIC = cheaper (when amortised over larger quantities), more powerful and more choices. User is exposed to hardware details.

#### CocaCola

Apr 7, 2012
3,635
PICaxe = simpler and easier for the beginner -- essentially designed for breadboarding. User is insulated from hardware details.

PIC = cheaper (when amortised over larger quantities), more powerful and more choices. User is exposed to hardware details.

Can you elaborate on the hardware details you envision? Yeah plugging in a USB cable and a phono jack and a few resistors is easy but I would hardly consider it a step below plugging a USB programmer into the computer and dropping a chip in a ZIF socket, or making the same ICSP connections to the chip as the PicAxe... You can breadboard an ICSP connection just as easy for a plain PIC as you can for a Picaxe... The only difference is the software and hardware used to make the connection, and it's not like you need to actually know how they work, you just hook them up and press program...

I think better stated the PicAxe like the Arduino gives you a tidy bundled package focused on a limited chip set and designed specifically for the beginner with limited options to you can basically only go down one road and not have to make decisions or choice calls, just like the BasicStamp did many years ago...

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#### (*steve*)

##### ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd
Moderator
Jan 21, 2010
25,508
RS232 cable/interface costs less than USB programmer.

I think better stated the PicAxe like the Arduino gives you a tidy bundled package focused on a limited chip set and designed specifically for the beginner with limited options to you can basically only go down one road and not have to make decisions or choice calls, just like the BasicStamp did many years ago...

I'd agree with that. The Basic Stamp was a very expensive thing compared with a PICAxe. And limited options are not necessarily a bad thing.

Arduino is typically more of an "evaluation board", containing various interface elements in addition to the chip. In some respects it is closer to the Basic Stamp.

#### CDRIVE

##### Hauling 10' pipe on a Trek Shift3
May 8, 2012
4,960
<snip>
Re-read my post I clearly stated an investment differences...

Thanks for the info.

#### CDRIVE

##### Hauling 10' pipe on a Trek Shift3
May 8, 2012
4,960
Also keep in mind that Picaxe hasn't stood still. It's evolving and getting more powerful at a respectable pace. The 08M2 has a heck of a lot more memory and faster than the M parts and a SL more memory than the original 08 part. DAC didn't exist on the M part either.

#### CocaCola

Apr 7, 2012
3,635
RS232 cable/interface costs less than USB programmer.

And again I have never argued that the upfront cost was different, but it's again an Apples to Oranges comparison as the 'cheaper' USB cable is good for 7 chips, while a good USB programmer is good for more than 500 and generally updated for the newest chips in short time offering a vast and overwhelming advantage...

I simply don't like my hands tied to 7 chips and forcing a design to work with them... Example right now I'm working on a design that is a 5/8" round PC board that contains twelve through hole 3mm LEDs (need the more focused light of through holes vs SMD) and a micro to control them needing 6 channels... Routing and fitting even an 8 pin SOIC micro on this board isn't impossible but hardly practical vs using one of the 6 pin SOT-23 PICs... I'm also moving more and more into smaller packages for the larger chips, even as a hobbiest I can do easily do QFN at home and it's been saving me a lot of board real estate as of late... I can say I don't miss the large caterpillars one bit...

For the average hobbies who has the space, doesn't need to stick to specific designs limitations the PicAxe certainly has it's place, but as I keep saying you really should consider your end game and long term goal before committing...

Arduino is typically more of an "evaluation board", containing various interface elements in addition to the chip. In some respects it is closer to the Basic Stamp.

Besides the USB program/debug interface it's just the basic "get it running" AVR circuit with takeoffs for each pin nothing else built in until you start plugging the modular 'shields' on top...

#### (*steve*)

##### ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd
Moderator
Jan 21, 2010
25,508
Can you elaborate on the hardware details you envision?

Sorry, I didn't answer this. I'm talking about the software interface to the on-board peripherals (although "on-board" and "peripheral" seems a misnomer to me).

With a picaxe you have simple commands to do PWM, read an ADC, sleep for a period of time, etc. You don't need to know which timers are used, whether changing values in the prescaler is going to affect things, or what special magic bits you need in the configuration word.

If you're programming the PIC directly (in say C) then you do have access to these things. One of the most common questions for beginners revolves around what value is needed in the configuration word. There is a lot of complex behaviour that is no longer masked from the beginner.

#### CDRIVE

##### Hauling 10' pipe on a Trek Shift3
May 8, 2012
4,960
<snip>

With a picaxe you have simple commands to do PWM, read an ADC, sleep for a period of time, etc. You don't need to know which timers are used, whether changing values in the prescaler is going to affect things, or what special magic bits you need in the configuration word.

If you're programming the PIC directly (in say C) then you do have access to these things. <snip>

I have to be honest and say that this is not my first time stepping into the Pic-Picaxe ring. I'm more than willing to go the full 12 rounds. One thing always seems to be prevalent in these bouts. I know my opponents will deny it vehemently but I can't shake the impression of elitism. Much like Mac users look down on Windows users. Hey, I can;t help it. It;s just what I sense.

Chris

#### CocaCola

Apr 7, 2012
3,635
Also keep in mind that Picaxe hasn't stood still. It's evolving and getting more powerful at a respectable pace. The 08M2 has a heck of a lot more memory and faster than the M parts and a SL more memory than the original 08 part. DAC didn't exist on the M part either.

Yes, no doubt they pick some of the newer and more robust chips when they 'upgrade' it only makes sense since they only offer one chip in that size...

Also being Stateside an 08M2 is $2.95 vs$1.48 for a PIC12F1840 in small numbers not that significant, but in 100 lots $2.36 vs$0.98? Does it matter to the guy doing a few boards, probably not does it matter to someone like me doing runs of 100 or more, heck yes... Especially if I don't need all the bells and whistles the PIC12F1840 has to offer but instead the PIC12F508 will do the job, that is $2.95 vs$0.83 in single lots is quite significant... This type of savings has allowed me to easily compensate and pay for the bigger and better development tools as well as the hardware, it's also allowed me to leverage a lower per unit cost and secure more deals, and this is has become increasingly hard to do over the years when people can go purchase a AM/FM radio CD player or small MP3 player, in a fancy box from Walmart for $10 and they wonder why my little bare PC board is going to cost them$50...

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#### CocaCola

Apr 7, 2012
3,635
With a picaxe you have simple commands to do PWM, read an ADC, sleep for a period of time, etc. You don't need to know which timers are used, whether changing values in the prescaler is going to affect things, or what special magic bits you need in the configuration word.

With a lot of the compilers that stuff is simplified as well, no need to get into any configurations...

I will agree that sometimes setting the bits and sorts can toss a wrench in things but if you simply read the datasheets isn't not rocket science especially if you are only limiting yourself to 7 chips to learn, and include the same code the next time you use that chip... Knowing and learning that stuff opens up more options that can make your life easier at a later date...

#### (*steve*)

##### ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd
Moderator
Jan 21, 2010
25,508
I have a colleague who is very happy to program the PICaxe, but programming is not where his skills are.

I'm sure that with practice he could learn to use a richer environment, but it would offer him very few advantages.

As CDRIVE alludes to, the various versions of PICaxe coming out now support more and more stuff, and there is some danger that they might end up almost as complex as the thing they sought to simplify.

#### CocaCola

Apr 7, 2012
3,635
With a picaxe you have simple commands to do PWM

Yes, in PicAxe, you have

PWM Pin,Duty,Cycle

And in PicBasic Pro, you have

PWM Pin,Duty,Cycle

PicAxe READADC channel,variable 8bit or READADC10 channel,wordvariable for 10 bit No 12 bit support
PicBasic Pro ADCIN Channel,Var use for 8, 10 or 12 bit resolution depending on settings

Yes, you need to set some things up in PBP but hey up until the new chips you had to make setting in PicAxe as well... The single command in PBP is configurable with only a few extra lines of code that are hardly complicated...

Code:
	DEFINE ADC_BITS 8	' Set number of bits in result
DEFINE ADC_CLOCK 3	' Set clock source (rc = 3)
DEFINE ADC_SAMPLEUS 50	' Set sampling time in microseconds

Some BASIC compilers like Mikroe BASIC have the settings built in (you can do the same with PBP if you desire) so it's as simple a VAR = Adc_Read(channel)

sleep for a period of time, etc

PicAxe SLEEP Period
PicBasic Pro SLEEP Period

If you're programming the PIC directly (in say C) then you do have access to these things.

That can be true or false depending on the compiler you use, as shown above where lots of the same functionality is built right in...

One of the most common questions for beginners revolves around what value is needed in the configuration word. There is a lot of complex behaviour that is no longer masked from the beginner.

Sure, and once could ignore telling newbies to use Ohms Law to calculate an LED resistor value instead just directing them to a program that does it for them... One way teaches why and how the other just spoon feeds...

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#### (*steve*)

##### ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd
Moderator
Jan 21, 2010
25,508
And PIC BASIC Pro costs what, about $50? That's about$50 more than the PICaxe environment. If I'm not going to amortise that over perhaps a hundred PICs then what have I gained financially? What if I do one project using a PIC and then decide never to do another?

I suggest newbies learn ohms law because it's simple. I do not suggest they immediately learn the applications of KVL and KCL, nor derive them from Maxwell's equations. If all they want to do is calculate a resistor value for a LED then sure, I'll send them to a web page. You'll notice that my long intro to LEDs does just that. If someone is interested enough they can go further.

I would think the natural progression is from PICaxe to C on PIC, and you might argue that the transition in language means that I could skip the first baby steps using a PICaxe.

However, you've succeeded in showing that what one might learn using a PICaxe is directly applicable to using something like PIC Basic Pro natively on a PIC, but not that I should necessarily start using it from scratch.

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