Are Rev-Ed & Picaxe missing out??

Mark.R

Member
I've dabbled with Picaxe on and off for well over ten years now but never in a serious way but always willing to learn more all the time, this time 5yrs ago I couldn't program a PLC and now that I work with them daily I manage round a Mitsubishi PLC quite happily.

I was having a look around the net and more specifically YouTube and couldn't help but notice that compared to say Arduino and even Microchip them selves that Picaxe has very little presents, there are the odd video of complete projects and the odd basic programming ones but nothing in depth (unless I've missed to find it), I do think that Rev-Ed would benefit buy having a proper Picaxe channel filled with basic introductions all the way up the the chip being connected and controlling multiple external I/O to various touch and none touch displays.

I know that the manuals and the knowledge on this forum is exultant but I do think it would help the educational drive of the platform and get a much better market share?
 

erco

Senior Member
Agreed, there are numerous (missed) opportunities to spread the gospel IMO. I display my Picaxe projects at various events & schools here in the US, where people are amazed but not a soul has ever heard of a Picaxe. One sharp Jr high student I met says he can code in C, C++, Python, and many others. I asked him about BASIC and he said no, but he's heard of it and would love to try it. At a Maker Faire in Dec 2019, I had a laptop & Picaxe on a table and encouraged people to sit down and try programming. I was so busy that I had virtually no time to help people, but throughout the day many people spent 3-5 minutes to modify an LED BLINK program and successfully changed the flash pattern. With no assistance, they just looked at the code and played round. I fly the Picaxe colors at every opportunity.

 
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oracacle

Senior Member
The unfortunate thing is, if you know C and can optimise it even a little using basic is kind of pointless.
The open source 3D printer firmware, marlin (or GRBL), is written in C, I can't get a over clocked 28x2 to run any wear near fast enough to match it's speed while it's running on an Arduino.
 

erco

Senior Member
But of course MOST people don't know C or anything about programming, or circuits. IMO BASIC and the Picaxe are the most versatile, user-friendly path into the hobby for beginners. As in, just get someone to look at the code for a minute and they think it's so easy "even I can do THAT".
 

oracacle

Senior Member
That is true.
But honestly I went from picaxe to Arduino C and find there to be very little difference in most commands. The main difference IMHO is the way it is presented, even just the type face that is used can make C feel daunting by comparison.

Then there is the forgetting that darn semicolon! Which we don't need on picaxe.
 

manuka

Senior Member
This rather reminds me of -sigh- PICAXE glory days (pre smart phone, modern micros or microPython). Check the attached from 12 years ago showing engaged Kiwi kids - some as young as 7 yo. Stan.
 

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Goeytex

Senior Member
The unfortunate thing is, if you know C and can optimise it even a little using basic is kind of pointless.
I would only agree if you mean interpreted BASIC. There are BASIC compilers available for 8-Bit PIC and AVR that compare quite favorably with C, and in some cases can even outperform C.

Picaxe/ Picaxe BASIC is not for high speed/high performance applications. It is for education and learning. Even so, it is amazing to me what some folks have done with a Picaxe, given its considerable limitations.

You don't need a Ferrari to go to the grocery store.
 

Mark.R

Member
It's nice to see that it's not just me that thinks this then. Do Rev-Ed and Picaxe them selves have a presence on the forum to take note and maybe look at the space in the market they're missing out on? I think an educational and instructive channel on YouTube these days is a must if you want to get out there, hell it could even make some money with a patreon page as well, though this should be a choice and the content stay free and educational.
 

piclt

Member
If you are reading this post, you must be on the Picaxe Forum. Why did you come here in the first place. You were either searching for electronics info elsewhere and Picaxe came up in one of the hits or you were wanting info or help regards programming your Picaxe project. You are either a first time visitor, a relatively new user / picaxe programmer or a more experienced user, either a serious user or a hobbyist.
You will expect answers to your queries so .... The Picaxe forum and Picaxe web needs to deal with all of these.

There are lots of info in the form of manuals tutorials on the web and even maybe some videos and sample progs.all of which are a form of static info, kept updated ok but written and explained as the writer sees it and describes it.

The forum is different in that it needs to be responsive to users who have or think they have immediate needs and queries as they see it.
A new user may not initially be as good a logical thinker as a user of many years experience and may need all levels of help to get the project up and running. The user may consider he has one big problem (it will just not work but he is doing it right) when in fact he has a whole lot of small problems and to "keep the air clear" he needs to be told how to sort these out individually

If a user needing help doesn't get a good response, either direct answers to his problem if simple, or to tell him how to describe more exactly (with code) what the problem is, he will go somewhere else and use some other microcontroller.

Responses that tell the user to go and read some section of the manual may be of no use to the user because the user may have read it 10 times before posting and still doesn't understand it. Also responses that tell the user some advanced solution does not help either.......
Specific help needs to be in the context of the user project request.
 

mikeyBoo

Senior Member
For-What-it’s Worth Dept.:

I am an old retired guy who worked with technology all of my life. Now, I have used C, C++, Java(yuk), etc. and it’s all good (at least sometimes).
However… for most of my boating & home projects:

The best solution is usually the simplest solution (hello Picaxe)
Using Picaxe, I can have an idea in the morning & a working project in my hand that evening.
I simply can’t do that with most other platforms.
However, if I need floating point, strings, lotsa’ memory, I don’t use Picaxe.

The more complexity, the more room for mistakes & errors.
For simple projects:
I don’t want to deal with memory management, pointers, and especially that system that seems to have been designed by a congressional committee or the Borg: Object-Oriented Programming.

Now, for Windows programming (e.g. Mac Windows Linux) I do use high-level languages. The Picaxe is not designed for that. Once again, I choose the simplest solution.

Standards are great, standards are wonderful (after all, there’s so many to choose from).

There are some things I don’t like about the Picaxe platform:
01 No standard format for sharing functions (subroutines)
02 No standard format for connecting external hardware (ports, I2C, etc.)
03 let's leave the rest for later...

Now, sharing procedures (subroutines) with the Picaxe’s BASIC-like language can be problematic since it doesn’t support local variables (i.e. variables that exist only within a procedure). I have seen some very good Picaxe code where symbols are used to make the code more readable. However, symbol assignments are not usually the same between Picaxe apps so subroutines are not very portable between apps.
This is an advantage of the Arduino: users can easily share code.

Since no software standard exists for sharing Picaxe subroutines I came up with my own method. This lets me reuse subroutines across Picaxe apps by simply pasting in the code I need for a new project. For example generic variables XW XH XL are assigned to the same Picaxe registers across apps. Ditto for YW YH YL, ZW ZH ZL, etc.

My Picaxe hardware standard KYK uses the same pin configs for ports & I2C connections and the board sizes are usually the same (for stacking). This lets me mix & match various boards & Picaxes for easy projects. The boards can also be used with most other processors (e.g. Arduino, 805x, PC, etc.).
Since the board size & connectors are standardized, new boards can be done from a template (making new board designs much easier). So I can use your board, you can use mine.

If any of y’all are interested in sharing software & hardware in the above manner, let me know & I’ll post a project explaining how it all works.
 

steliosm

Senior Member
I believe Picaxe is already a great tool which can be used outside the schools, which is the primary focus of Rev Ed. It has the horse power to do a lot of tasks, still not the ones requiring very fast signals like neopixels or a lot of ram. The support documentation is also great which not only provides details about the pickaxe and the programming language but also provides fundamental details on electronics in general.

There are a ton of projects using picaxes as their brains but most of the makers don't take the extra step to document or record a video for their project. I document some of them but I never took the effort of recording a single video. I guess it's a completely different community compared to Arduino community.
 

papaof2

Senior Member
Because of the industrial chips the PICAXE is based on, you can expect a finished project to have long life. This little project has been running 24/7/365 for 15 years: http://www.jecarter.us/picaxe/AV-fan.html

Cabinet re-arrangements over time (bigger TV, very different cabinet) mean the fan now blows directly through the case of the hottest device (the cable box/DVR) and the DS18B20 is above the "hot spot" of that box. Other than replacing the fan, the rest of the PICAXE project is all the same pieces as the original installation.
 

manuka

Senior Member
Papaof2 : Your cooler reminds me of similar I once set up for a class demo- one of the bright spark students asked (to resulting mirth -my own included -) " Is that your ONLY fan ?!"

Central NZ experienced a large off shore quake this afternoon,luckily with no damage. What really impressed was the auto activation of an Android alert service only recently rolled out by Google in quake prone NZ & Greece.

A quake's far more destructive S (secondary) waves travel at ~3km/sec which is only about half the speed of the initial P (primary) waves. Over a distance of say a few hundred km the delay -after the overhead of initial alert processing is factored in - may hence be 10s of seconds, perhaps warning enough to "drop, cover & hold".

This impressively serves to yet again show just how versatile modern smartphones & tablets have become. Additionally their familiarity makes for more rapid learning.

Sigh -imagine if PICAXEs were Bluetooth programmed & controlled, perhaps in the style of the well thought of RFO (Richard Feynman Observatory) BASIC! for Android.
 

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piclt

Member
Papaof2's fan of which he has total control, works merrily away at hardware interface level.
Manuka describes the impressive earthquake alert (App) of which users have no control (as far as detecting or not detecting earthquakes is concerned) works away at high level and large systems level.
There is NO way an app on someone's phone can detect an earthquake.
Long time ago in bygone days I studied "Industrial Measurement and Control Systems" at college. At that time I learned that electronic systems could not even measure say "room temperature" directly. We had to rely on measuring the change of some physical property of something that was affected by its temperature eg its resistance. There was no common stable DC amplifiers then either, we had to use "choppers" to convert the signal to AC and then amplify it.

So even the impressive quake "system" will need something (probably an accelerometer or microphone) to do the actual detection of movement or sound and this bit could be controlled by the "humble picaxe".

So if someone comes on the picaxe forum saying "I want to build a quake detector" he doesn't really want to be told at this stage about the ins and outs of Apps and Satellite communications, he needs to be told he needs to break the project down into its component parts "Stepwise Refinement" and consider what he can do with the Picaxe, what inputs he will need and how measure them with Picaxe, what outputs he will need and how he can communicate this to other display or comms equipment.

The RFO-BASIC software itself seems impressive but it would be a good project for a few to get together and make an interface to the Picaxe even with something no more complicated than Bluetooth chip with serial link.

Regards the "grey hairs people" using this forum, yes there are alot of us about. We need to get or keep the young people interested in basic electronics and what actually makes things"Tick" otherwise it will just be programmers for "smart phones" etc. A bit like the large scale food industry...... some people think "Potatoes grow in shops"...!...!...!.
 

manuka

Senior Member
Fair comment piclt -I was farm raised & in my seniority have emotive views about kids appreciating REAL "get ya hands dirty" supply chains...

FWIW at "e-level" -here in NZ we've such a shortage of hands on tradesmen that FAR greater incomes can be made as electricians, builders or plumbers. There's "more money handling copper wire than wrestling with silicon micros" -a serious consideration for less academic teens considering careers & planning for home ownership. NZ has eye wateringly costly houses ...

Almost nothing in consumer electronics is/can be serviced anymore - even the likes of laser printers are often dumped when their toner runs out. TVs may be given away if their remote has been lost, laptops discarded as batteries go weary,& smart phones binned when new models arrive.

Best not get me started on e-car batteries, but even battery packs in e-bikes are mega costly & may only last a few years,making the $$$$ bike near worthless if an elusive/unusual packaging was used...

Don't get ME wrong as I've personally a strong "make if do -use it up-wear it out" ethic,often fix e-items & press "oldie but goody" e-gear into service. However my responsiblity when a 40+ year career tertiary educator extended beyond teaching & enthusing to also cover pastoral (...phew...) & career advice.

I had to agree with a bright spark student who once related -"Electronic devices may be interesting but there's no real money in the field for regular guys. Additionally the PITIFUL service life before device redundancy is depressing..." .

He was an absolute constructional wizard & eventually took to a bespoke jewellery career where " -creations may be appreciated for centuries". Who could argue with that.
 
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papaof2

Senior Member
"Don't get ME wrong as I've personally a strong "make if do -use it up-wear it out" ethic,often fix e-items & press "oldie but goody" e-gear into service "

I'm also one of those "make it do" gray/grey hairs - the laptop I'm using is a ~16-year-old Dell D630 and still running Windows XP and Office 2003. It works just fine for the 8 books (more than half a million words, mostly PAW fiction) I have on Amazon. I do have a newer laptop with Windows 10.whatever.is.current for use where needed but still Office 2003 (the corporate license has no end date ;-) and LibreOffice (free) when a newer version is needed.

My most recent "make do" project was replacing the battery in a discontinued UPS. The manufacturer wants $50US for the made-to-fit 12 volt 4.3AH AGM battery. The one aftermarket vendor wants $27US plus tax and shipping. I found 3.8AH LiFePO4 cells for under $3US each (in a box of 16) at batteryhookup.com. Four of those plus a 10amp BMS cost less than $20US delivered. The UPS is an APC BGE-70 which iwas designed for long run at low power (more than two hours with a 15 watt load) making it ideal for backup on a security camera or home network equipment. Because the low voltage cutoff of the 4 LiFePO4 cells in series is 10.0 volts, the UPS runs a bit longer on the new LiFePO4 pack than on the original AGM battery - the UPS low voltage shutdown is 10.7 volts. Plus the LiFePO4 has a service life of perhaps 2000 charge/discharge cycles compared to an AGM battery's few hundred cycles at 100% discharge. At my age, that UPS now has a "lifetime" rechargeable battery ;-) and I got some education on a new battery technology.

I also used the lithium ion cells from a DOA laptop battery to replace the NiMH battery pack in a long-discontinued handheld vacuum. Beats the heck out of $60US for replacement NiMH cells - and it has twice the AH of the NiMH pack. Nominal NiMH pack voltage was 10.8 volts. Nominal 3S lithium ion pack is 11.1 volts so that was an easy swap and the original wallwart for charging the vacuum works.

So I'm cheap ;-) I'll just say "frugal" and take the difference to the stack under the mattress...
 

erco

Senior Member
I have ~30 2014-ish cheap laptops mainly used to teach Picaxe programming. Running fine on Windows 10 but none of them will upgrade to Windows 11. TPM and other requirements limit Win 11 to only the newest processors. Win 10 should be supported thru ~2025 but I sure hope Microsoft knuckles under public furor and relaxes requirements or offers a lite version. Otherwise e-waste dumps will be full of perfectly good laptops. Or people will go Linux, which wouldn't be bad.

I should sell most of them soon while they are still worth something.
 

oracacle

Senior Member
That is the problem you see, everyone want the latest and greatest but refuse to move with it. Arguably it was one of the issues that AMD created for themselves in the past, keeping legacy instruction sets and the likes going.

The same happened when vista was released, I had 2 year old machine with 8GB of RAM and i never had an issue with it, but people did not want to move away from 256MB of RAM and thusly caused alot more issues than there should have been. It seems that people need to dragged kicking and screaming into the present. If you want ot run legacy hardware, expect to run legact software.
 

Bill.b

Senior Member
I am still using my 21year old compaq E500 laptop for picaxe programming running win 2000 with 30meg HD. I can only run picaxe 5.** programming software on this machine.

Bill
 

peter howarth

New Member
For-What-it’s Worth Dept.:

I am an old retired guy who worked with technology all of my life. Now, I have used C, C++, Java(yuk), etc. and it’s all good (at least sometimes).
However… for most of my boating & home projects:

The best solution is usually the simplest solution (hello Picaxe)
Using Picaxe, I can have an idea in the morning & a working project in my hand that evening.
I simply can’t do that with most other platforms.
However, if I need floating point, strings, lotsa’ memory, I don’t use Picaxe.

The more complexity, the more room for mistakes & errors.
For simple projects:
I don’t want to deal with memory management, pointers, and especially that system that seems to have been designed by a congressional committee or the Borg: Object-Oriented Programming.

Now, for Windows programming (e.g. Mac Windows Linux) I do use high-level languages. The Picaxe is not designed for that. Once again, I choose the simplest solution.

Standards are great, standards are wonderful (after all, there’s so many to choose from).

There are some things I don’t like about the Picaxe platform:
01 No standard format for sharing functions (subroutines)
02 No standard format for connecting external hardware (ports, I2C, etc.)
03 let's leave the rest for later...

Now, sharing procedures (subroutines) with the Picaxe’s BASIC-like language can be problematic since it doesn’t support local variables (i.e. variables that exist only within a procedure). I have seen some very good Picaxe code where symbols are used to make the code more readable. However, symbol assignments are not usually the same between Picaxe apps so subroutines are not very portable between apps.
This is an advantage of the Arduino: users can easily share code.

Since no software standard exists for sharing Picaxe subroutines I came up with my own method. This lets me reuse subroutines across Picaxe apps by simply pasting in the code I need for a new project. For example generic variables XW XH XL are assigned to the same Picaxe registers across apps. Ditto for YW YH YL, ZW ZH ZL, etc.

My Picaxe hardware standard KYK uses the same pin configs for ports & I2C connections and the board sizes are usually the same (for stacking). This lets me mix & match various boards & Picaxes for easy projects. The boards can also be used with most other processors (e.g. Arduino, 805x, PC, etc.).
Since the board size & connectors are standardized, new boards can be done from a template (making new board designs much easier). So I can use your board, you can use mine.

If any of y’all are interested in sharing software & hardware in the above manner, let me know & I’ll post a project explaining how it all works.
 

peter howarth

New Member
Picaxe versus arduino, I find picaxe in comparison to arduino , by far, a whole lot easier to use and understand to use, than arduino..And I am still learning.. Especially using the flowchart system of programming, then converting the flowchart to basic text format to see the relationship of the 2 different programming methods.. I am actually trying to wean myself off the flowchart method and go straight to the basic text method, as more text can be fitted onto the computer screen..Arduino would be a good thing if it had a flowchart method of programming, so picaxe is safe for now.. Just because arduino has a lot more add-on boards and options available, doesnt mean [picaxe is any less capable..But its like anything , unless its used day in day out, its very easy to forget the techniques of programming be it picaxe, arduino or otherwise..Picaxe is the controller for me for the foreseeable future, priced well enough for the programming outcomes, if someone has to use anything better than picaxe or arduino , than he or she has more serious applications to get going.ie a lot more industrial... I have been in the electronics design area for the last 35 years, and whilst I almost know the cmos 4000 series of chips backwards, there will come a time , if not just around the corner, that the 4000 series logic family will no longer be available despite its very high reliability..Hopefully the picaxe product will be around for a long time, but thanks to the global disease, every chip maker is playing catch up on manufacture of chips ie micros etc.. Lets hope picaxe isnt affected in any bad way.. Regards Peter
 

peter howarth

New Member
For-What-it’s Worth Dept.:

I am an old retired guy who worked with technology all of my life. Now, I have used C, C++, Java(yuk), etc. and it’s all good (at least sometimes).
However… for most of my boating & home projects:

The best solution is usually the simplest solution (hello Picaxe)
Using Picaxe, I can have an idea in the morning & a working project in my hand that evening.
I simply can’t do that with most other platforms.
However, if I need floating point, strings, lotsa’ memory, I don’t use Picaxe.

The more complexity, the more room for mistakes & errors.
For simple projects:
I don’t want to deal with memory management, pointers, and especially that system that seems to have been designed by a congressional committee or the Borg: Object-Oriented Programming.

Now, for Windows programming (e.g. Mac Windows Linux) I do use high-level languages. The Picaxe is not designed for that. Once again, I choose the simplest solution.

Standards are great, standards are wonderful (after all, there’s so many to choose from).

There are some things I don’t like about the Picaxe platform:
01 No standard format for sharing functions (subroutines)
02 No standard format for connecting external hardware (ports, I2C, etc.)
03 let's leave the rest for later...

Now, sharing procedures (subroutines) with the Picaxe’s BASIC-like language can be problematic since it doesn’t support local variables (i.e. variables that exist only within a procedure). I have seen some very good Picaxe code where symbols are used to make the code more readable. However, symbol assignments are not usually the same between Picaxe apps so subroutines are not very portable between apps.
This is an advantage of the Arduino: users can easily share code.

Since no software standard exists for sharing Picaxe subroutines I came up with my own method. This lets me reuse subroutines across Picaxe apps by simply pasting in the code I need for a new project. For example generic variables XW XH XL are assigned to the same Picaxe registers across apps. Ditto for YW YH YL, ZW ZH ZL, etc.

My Picaxe hardware standard KYK uses the same pin configs for ports & I2C connections and the board sizes are usually the same (for stacking). This lets me mix & match various boards & Picaxes for easy projects. The boards can also be used with most other processors (e.g. Arduino, 805x, PC, etc.).
Since the board size & connectors are standardized, new boards can be done from a template (making new board designs much easier). So I can use your board, you can use mine.

If any of y’all are interested in sharing software & hardware in the above manner, let me know & I’ll post a project explaining how it all works.
 

peter howarth

New Member
Theres only one thing about picaxe that could be improved on, and thats a lack of examples for common applications, otherwise picaxe is quite easy to use, as difficult as it is to use.. I had a lot of trouble getting an oled to work with any picaxe, but now that i got that sorted, with the great help from the forum, then connecting picaxe with an oled is a piece of cake. The challenge I have now is connecting /programming a clock memory board with a picaxe, to display an event on an oled display, that indicates when an event occurred, the internal clock keeps running in the background, but the event time shows up on the screen..regards peter
 

piclt

Member
Google oled picaxe and there are lots of hits.
If you have a problem now, you should start a new thread and break your problem down to the specific parts you are trying to do. Describe what actual item you want or are trying to connect to what, what type of links between them and what you want to read and display. And post code showing how far you have got.
 

Mark.R

Member
Picaxe versus arduino, I find picaxe in comparison to arduino , by far, a whole lot easier to use and understand to use, than arduino..And I am still learning.. Especially using the flowchart system of programming, then converting the flowchart to basic text format to see the relationship of the 2 different programming methods.. I am actually trying to wean myself off the flowchart method and go straight to the basic text method, as more text can be fitted onto the computer screen..Arduino would be a good thing if it had a flowchart method of programming, so picaxe is safe for now.. Just because arduino has a lot more add-on boards and options available, doesnt mean [picaxe is any less capable..But its like anything , unless its used day in day out, its very easy to forget the techniques of programming be it picaxe, arduino or otherwise..Picaxe is the controller for me for the foreseeable future, priced well enough for the programming outcomes, if someone has to use anything better than picaxe or arduino , than he or she has more serious applications to get going.ie a lot more industrial... I have been in the electronics design area for the last 35 years, and whilst I almost know the cmos 4000 series of chips backwards, there will come a time , if not just around the corner, that the 4000 series logic family will no longer be available despite its very high reliability..Hopefully the picaxe product will be around for a long time, but thanks to the global disease, every chip maker is playing catch up on manufacture of chips ie micros etc.. Lets hope picaxe isnt affected in any bad way.. Regards Peter
This is what I meant about Rev-Ed/Picaxe being out there more so that people see it and know about it, this would then spark more amateur tutorials as well as Picaxe's offical ones. A "Picaxe for Dummies" book would be nice too just to note.
 

Mark.R

Member
This is a quote from "10 Ways to Explore the World of Electronics" from Dummies and Picaxe gets a mention.


"A microcontroller is a tiny computer on a chip. You create a program on your computer, and download the program onto the chip. Then when you power up the chip, it follows the instructions in your program. The BASIC Stamp and PICAXE microcontrollers are inexpensive alternatives that use the easy-to-learn BASIC programming language. However, the beginner-friendly Arduino microcontroller system, which uses a C-like programming language, has exploded in popularity in recent years due to its simplified integrated development environment (IDE), versatility, affordability, and enormous online user community."


I don't know if this is a warning or not?
 

erco

Senior Member
Picaxe versus arduino, I find picaxe in comparison to arduino , by far, a whole lot easier to use and understand to use, than arduino..And I am still learning..
We are all still learning!

I just took on a job which was abandoned midstream by some Arduino guy who disappeared. I'm replacing 7 Arduinos with 2 Picaxe chips, but there is an Arduino-powered LCD graphics touchscreen (Gameduino) that must stay, so I'm slogging through the code and learning as I go, it needs basic communication wit the Picaxe.

I REALLY hate it, the curly bracket language and mysterious libraries doing unseen things. Any Ardy fans here? I joined the Ardy forum for help. They're nice enough so far.
 

oracacle

Senior Member
they can be a little funny i find, tell you somemthing with no explanation behind it which is frustrating as all hell when your trying to learn.
All the code for the librarys are in the librarys folder, they are not easy to interpret though.
Think of it like this, its the same as using an I2C or serial command in picaxe, there is a bunch of stuff going on there that you don't think about, it justy happens.
The thing i find most annoying is librarys relying on other librarys.

Also 7 arduinos for one thing, that sound like they may not have much of clue about what they are doing, figured they were in over there head and jumped ship.
At the minute i am using 2 for a submarine project, A model with funcitoning things, it makes use of RF coms for remote control, 17 servos and a bunch of switches and an encoder, 3 motors, oh and a couple of strings of WS2812 LEDs.
The 17 servos are driven from a single mega 2560 along with one string of LEDs and an LDR, and the 3 motors. The code has aboput 120 lines of varibales, #defines, name declarations and library inclusions before any code is actually seen, so its quite a large project.
There is a another sub project just around the corner that may well use up to 45 servos, all of which can be run from a single mega without interfering with timing on other things, this is something that is well beyound the range of any picaxe without addition hardware. Elegoo make very good compatiable boards for less than half the price of genuine arduino boards, and just less than the pre-assembled 28x2 sheild base. And you can pick up a pack of the nano from the same people for £12, so £4 a board which is cheap enough (the new nano every isn't produced by a 3rd party as yet).

I must say I am very intregued as to why the person thought they needed 7 micro controllers.
 

mikeyBoo

Senior Member
I REALLY hate it, the curly bracket language and mysterious libraries doing unseen things. Any Ardy fans here? I joined the Ardy forum for help. They're nice enough so far.
hi erco,
The thing that can be confusing when going from Picaxe to “C-like” languages is the concept of local variables.
Unlike Picaxe where variables exist inside/outsite of procedures (aka subroutines in Picaxe),
in “C-like” languages, a procedure (subroutine) is like a closed box:
i.e. you feed it an argument(s) & a result is returned (you don’t usually need to worry about what’s in the box).
That’s the reason for the matching braces/brackets.

The most important thing about C is that it has been used to build higher-level languages, bringing the abstraction level ever higher. Meaning you can do more with less effort (e.g. “Tea Earl Grey, Hot”).

I like TclTk (written in C) because it can rewrite it’s own code while running (via substitution) & you can add your own commands (or make your own language). That “abstraction level” thang’ again.

For Projects I try to pick the shortest route from point A to B.
01 Picaxe ; simple real-world stuff (usually a Picaxe-20M2)
02 8052-BASIC ; if I need floating point, strings, arrays (but want to stay in BASIC)
03 Pi/PC/Mac ; if I need wifi, internet, etc. (Prefer TclTk for talking to uProcs)
04 Arduino ; to use canned code (PID, GPS, etc.)
 

papaof2

Senior Member
I've used more varieties of BASIC than I can count - from the Sinclair ZX series and DEC PDP-11/23 to a basic under Unix on a PDP-11/70, Basic-09 running under OS9 (unix-like system for the 6800/68000 series chips - the Radio Shack Color Computer running OS9 and Basic09 was faster than the IBM PC of the same year), NS Basic for Palm and Windows CE, multiple versions of BASIC (interpreted and complied) on the PC (DOS and Windows) culminating with Visual Basic 6 - and my VB6 utilities (How many hours up?, What IP address(es) assigned?, etc) run just fine under Windows 10. It's all about using the proper tool for the job. Remember the RS-100? I wrote a communications program in its BASIC (yes, running 300 buad) to do long term testing of some RS232 over X.25 on some Cisco network hardwware - speed wasn't important, just a constant barrage of connect, get a response, disconnect and repeat. I also speak HTML, ASP, C, SQL and a bit of Python and COBOL. When using a C complier on the Color Computer, I had to learn enough 6809 assembly language to fix some errors in the toupper() and tolower() functions in that compiler's assembly code libraries. Also a bit of PDP11 assembly to be able to modify machine code for some programs which didn't include the source.

10 years ago, I designed a "remote control" for a guard/tracking dog - a wearable harness with audio signals for guiding the dog (2 beeps right, 4 beeps left concept to use minimum storage), GPS, programmable path/destination, thermal sensors, animal position sensors (sitting, lying down, etc.), two-way data radio (including GPS data), audio and video recording, etc., etc., etc., for a former member of the military. It used a 40X2 and an FPU chip. We got as far as a two-sided prototype board (with no one qualified to check my work, the initial board needed one jumper for a correction). I was doing this for a friend and primarily as busy work for an old retired guy needing to keep his mind busy (me), then other things intervened for me and I don't know what he and another friend ever did with his idea. They did have copies of the schematics, Gerber files, code and many pages of notes to work from. My payment? Whatever is in the box waiting for him to pick it up but, considering the layer of dust on the boix, I don't think he's planning to get it - one or two of the original boards, a couple of 40X2s, an FPU chip, a GPS chip and some miscellaneous resistors, capacitors and switches - plus some knowledge, which I plan to keep ;-)
 

oracacle

Senior Member
the upside C-like variables though is you are not restricted to however many variables have been designed into the system.
I can have, within reason and withing the confines of dysnamic memory as many as i like. Current project uses 37 byte varibales and 6 int (think word variables) varaibles and 2 unsigned long variable. An unsigned long is the same as 4 words variable in picaxe.

If you are doing anything that needs to be fast, you either go Raspberry Pi Pico or teensy. Some of the latter have built a in FPU and can be made to run at over 1GHz. There is an increasing amount of 32 bit systems out there, which is a massive step forward. Alot of new 3D printer systems are based on boards that are 32 bit and run around 130MHz mark which has made a huge difference in print speed. Those tiny delays to do sums, soon add up when you do thousands of them at a time.

Makes me wonder, picaxe uses a tokenised system, there should be little reason not to make it multi language (basic, c, assembler, java...). my understanding is that the compiler just simply calls the token from the firmware. providing each of the respective compilers calls the correct token for the respective command.
Now i do understand that is not just as simple as just having a single programme to compile what ever code language you like, and its not simple task writing a comipler. But if you had a C compiler, the simple picaxe download circuit which makes desiging and reprogramming custom boards easy, combined with the fairly low cost of picaxe chips you may well tempt some people over from the dark side.
 

manuka

Senior Member
Languages aside (& it's a tad suprising that microPython hasn't been championed), perhaps the issue relates to mind boggling e-developments since the early 2000 PICAXE release.

20 years back USB, WiFi, Bluetooth, memory sticks, SD cards , smart phones, touch screens, tablets, Li batteries, white LEDs, IoT, SDR, LoRa, HDMI, Arduinos & RPI etc, 32 bit micros & -gasp- even easy internet access were near unknown. Cheap Asian competitors were not then a force to be reckoned with either.

Educationally (which was/is the PICAXE target market) most of these e-developments are now considered "state of the art"...

Rev. Ed took quite some lobbying before PICAXE ID, & their eventual labels are arguably still too stark -I usually organised far more comprehensive ID. Refer a 2013 sample.

Students could otherwise assume any DIP8 in the parts drawer was a PICAXE-08M...
Several wasted time blindly trying to program the likes of plain PICs, 741 Op Amps & 555 timers !!
 

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erco

Senior Member
I must say I am very intregued as to why the person thought they needed 7 micro controllers.
There are 4 leadscrew-operated sliding duct dampers. This nitwit had one arduino and two limit switches per valve, and he STILL couldn't make it work. that's why he disappeared. I replaced his Arduino with 2 diodes and got the job!
 

papaof2

Senior Member
Intelligence/experience scores over ignorance/arrogance almost every time ;-)

Blinking :LEDs and running color displays using someone else's library are not the same as understanding how CW/CCW DC motor rotation is accomplished and how to use diodes.

Long ago, I had the privilege of working with some gifted elementary students (ages 9-11) and teaching them a bit of BASIC, among other things. One girl was curious enough to research how DOS booted and wrote a little program that was called from autoexec.bat. She had her parents wondering where the strange message was coming from on bootup for days. Never underestimate the abilities of a smart and curious kid. I can see her getting into PICAXE and the hardware if it had been available then ;-)
 

erco

Senior Member
Maybe Picaxe is old school by today's standards, but it's still my favorite controller for projects and teaching. I'm glad it's still around. Before discovering Picaxe, I was mainly using Parallax's BASIC Stamps. Also dabbled with the C-Stamp, EZSBC, and Kronos Athena controllers, the latter are long gone but akin to Picaxe and Genie chips.
 

mikeyBoo

Senior Member
o_O (<- startled look) Where are you buying your 8052-BASIC chips?
hi Flenser,
I have a lot of 8052-BASIC boards left over from projects we did in the 90s, so I haven’t had to buy any in decades. We used them because it was the quickest way to do small add-on projects (barcode gens, joystick controllers for old CNC machines, etc.). It was much faster & easier to implement than C-code.

The 8052-BASIC made it easy to link to assembly code when we needed to add a little high-speed piece. This was the reason for the little “BASIC modules” you sometimes see in industrial PLCs (they contained 8052-BASIC chips with links to the PLC hardware).

Since Intel released the source code, folks who still use the 8052-BASIC chip usually copy the interpreter code onto a cpu with NVM. There are 8052-BASIC variants (e.g. v1.31) that support up to 78MHz xtals.
Google “basic-52 source code” if you want to know more.

for example (8052-BASIC can be loaded into this):
AT89C52-24PC 8-bit MCU 8-Bit CISC 40-pin DIP $3 ea.
https://www.jameco.com/z/AT89C52-24PC-Atmel-Microchip--MCU-8-Bit-AT89-CISC-8KB-Flash-5-Volt-40-Pin-PDIP_168920.html?CID=GOOG&gclid=CjwKCAjw8KmLBhB8EiwAQbqNoBgELNPZPC3BTsPh-nBz-ZhC1afSJipSpSfrc_oOtU854AYc4WQ49xoCuMUQAvD_BwE

I guess Micromint still sells pre-programmed chips & they even have a system on a chip. However, putting together an 8052-BASIC board from scratch is much more work than using a Picaxe.

Picaxe is usually my choice for simple projects. However, when I need floating point, the 8052-BASIC is my fallback (In spite of it’s old age, I prefer it to Arduino in most cases). Like the Picaxe, it’s very easy to work with.
However, the Picaxe chips have so many features built-in (except the math stuff).

I Really Really wish Picaxe would add a modernized variant of 8052-BASIC to use for those times we need floating point, arrays, strings, assembly-language links. Especially the floating point & math functions!

A Picaxe AX8052F100 data radio with modernized 8052-BASIC onboard would be awesome!
This with a slaved Picaxe-20M2 onboard with KYK connectors would be my dream project board.
https://schmartboard.com/content/Articles/schmartboard_at_121212_01.pdf

Since this is a Picaxe site, it wouldn’t be appropriate to post a how-to project based on non-Picaxe hardware. However, I attached a .pdf showing the old “1990s Vintage” 8052 board (which I still use sometimes).
 

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