Are Rev-Ed & Picaxe missing out??

mikeyBoo

Senior Member
Unsure on the RF part of your "data radio" pondering - what frequency,speed,range? One way (simplex) or both (half duplex) ?

That N&V article dates from 2009-2012 - surely now WiFi, BT or LoRa devices can assist ? Many modern micros of course come with at least one of these approaches.

Perhaps you mean wireless PICAXE programming ?
hi manuka.
The reference to “AX8052F100 data radio” was just to show an example of a modern 8052-based uProc as a possible host for a modernized 8052-BASIC. The “data radio” portion of the chip might not necessarily be used.

A “data radio” could be used to send encrypted wireless data (telemetry). That would be a little off-topic for this site.
Sorry for any confusion.
 

manuka

Senior Member
"Wireless telemetry" may be off topic for this thread but it's certainly ON TOPIC for PICAXEs! Those NRF24L01 modules you mention are GFSK 2.4GHz (but not WiFi) & high speed but short range -many IoT applications favour only low data speeds but long range (at sub GHz freqs) & LoRa modulation. Setup (SF, BW etc) may daunt but LoRa module driving is very PICAXEable.
 

Attachments

Last edited:

Aries

New Member
I have a household wireless network based around NRF24L01s. They are indeed short range - I need one in virtually every room (but WiFi doesn't work in this house either). Each room has a transceiver based on a 20M2 + NRF24L01. They not only send on any signals they receive, but also sound the alarm if the phone or the doorbell ring (as well as a "personal alarm" which can be carried around, based on the same chips). The network also handles the data from GPS clock, photovoltaic cells and mains electricity meter (not a smart meter - it's based on current transformers), underfloor heating, lighting control etc. There is a data-logger which stores most of the signals in case they are needed for analysis.
 

PiX

New 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?
Picaxe is fine for many applications and in my view simpler than Arduino to understand for most people. You can do so much with them, adding all sorts of peripherals such as touchscreens, speech modules etc etc. without all that complicated library stuff that's hard to get your head around.

Rev-Ed may not market hard enough, that's up to them, I'll never knock it though as 6 years ago I started an business designing and making commercial products using picaxe microcontrollers at the heart of every one.

I've not found them limiting, but I have found myself so... however with perseverance I am now a good enough coder to be making a nice living out of them. This has bit me on the bum of late as they are now scarce in quantity, the website is limiting the number you can buy. Even that though can be overcome, with a little re-wiring they are very interchangeable. I tend towards 20M2 and 20X2 for most projects because of that. Sometimes overkill and sometimes headscratchingly stressful if there's not enough program space.

And....this forum is what really makes them so attractive to me, they are clearly so unpopular that this is really the only place for advice whereas Arduino searches on the web result in hours of watching you tube videos !
 

Mark.R

Member
A few weeks ago I found myself watching a chap doing some basic flowchart programming on YouTube from about three years ago and then just stopped, so I sent him the message below......

"It looks like it's been a while now but have you ever planned on carrying on with these tutorials"

To which he replied earlier this week with......

"Thanks Mark for your interest but I have not continued with PICAXE at the collage I teach. We have moved over to Arduino."


What a shame and seems to be the trend.
 

manuka

Senior Member
Such choices are often influenced by wider organisational decisions. Additionally the enthusiasm & resources of an individual educator are often discarded by later staff who prefer to go with their own flow.

Such trends are nothing new -& certainly not limited to micros! An WW2 era RAF groundcrew senior once related this as the "Wellington Bomber" effect. When these durable aircraft first arrived ~late 1930s they were so hi tech that even looking at them was almost an offence! Yet by the wars end in 1945 they tended small beer, with many near discarded in the airfields long grass & used for practice & parts...

[Reflection mode] During my initial 1970s UK & NZ High School teaching career I inherited a NZ Physics lab., c/w dusty store cupboards jammed with neglected 1966 era PSSC gear (Physical Science Study Committee) => https://www.compadre.org/portal/pssc/pssc.cfm . Later staff, seemingly inexperienced with PSSC, had abandoned it...

By chance I'd been a NZ High School student 10 years earlier where this program was trialled & accordingly had high familiarity with it. Et voila -long revamping days later & Physics there enjoyed a VERY popular 5 years -before I moved on.

FWIW -20 years later (~2002) I shelved intro. micro teaching via "BASIC Stamps" ($$+) in favour of PICAXEs ($+). Stan.
 
Last edited:

oracacle

Senior Member
the other problem is the world of instant gratification.
Now i can download a library, install it, flash an example and have the system working all in less than a minute. for basically anything that you can attach to an MCU.

The problem with this is that you don't really learn anything, but they feel like they are mamking progress instead of trawling through manuals or forum posts on how to get somemthing to work.
If it doesn't give the enorfine rush, then its not wort it - that sad moto of todays learners.
 

Rampz

Well-known member
the other problem is the world of instant gratification.
Now i can download a library, install it, flash an example and have the system working all in less than a minute. for basically anything that you can attach to an MCU.

The problem with this is that you don't really learn anything, but they feel like they are mamking progress instead of trawling through manuals or forum posts on how to get somemthing to work.
If it doesn't give the enorfine rush, then its not wort it - that sad moto of todays learners.
I spent two trawling through the manuals and the forum as a guest trying to work out if picaxe could do what I want.
Then bought almost all the project books I could find and the picaxe development board so I could try out the project
As a 50 year electrician with some knowledge of electronics to a basic level, it was BBC master computers when I was at school but they were too new for us to use
I really struggle making sense of a command and its variables etc in a way that I can use, layout of code, I'm starting to get my head around sequences of actions etc, just so blank when it comes to writing code, if I ask some stupid questions its my way of learning
 

rq3

Senior Member
@Rampz, I believe I have the same issue. I'm a retired analog electrical engineer. I can deal with Smith charts, and impedance matching. But sometimes (often) wrapping my head around software makes my brain bleed.

Back in the 70's a colleague had designed a digital circuit (ECL) that ran under software control, and didn't work. His programming seemed good to him. After days of poking at the code, he asked me take a look. A licked finger probing on the wire wrap board led me to suggest "place a 10 pF capacitor here".

Problem solved, but darned if I could explain to him what I had done. We just didn't speak the same lingo. By the by, the circuit was in a museum exhibit, and it's still running. Certainly not analyzed, or space qualified, but good enough.
 

erco

Senior Member
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 with 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.
I finished the prototype and got four micros working together: 2 Picaxes (20M2, 14M2), a digital ozone sensor w/ micro, and the Gameduino. It's an Ozone Garment Disinfection unit as detailed at https://www.o3technologiesinc.com/.

ozone.jpg
 

oracacle

Senior Member
The other thing did occur to me was Arduino allowing their software to be used for other controllers, there is a plug-in to be able to programme just about any controller on the market.
If you can use the same soft ware for esp23, teensy, ATtiny and Arduino why wouldn't you? It's actually the reason I have started moving over. I have the beginnings of a project that having as built in FPU and 600mhz clock will make things allot easier
 

OLDmarty

Senior Member
I hope this isn't blasphemy, because i love the simplicity of programming in BASIC languages (i can't program in C/C+ or whatever to save myself lol).

But, *COULD* the picaxe kernal become re-ported to work inside a much faster (Atmel) device to become speed-comparable to Arduino projects?

I realise the basic interpreter has some speed limits when processing the tasks, but surely picaxe basic running on a 400Mhz chip is going to be noticeably faster than running at 64Mhz on a 28X2 or 40X2 (microchip) device????
Hopefully microchip have (or will) create a much faster device that could accomodate the next level of picaxe, otherwise (as i just said above) try an alternate device for a new range of picaxe technologies.

Something to think about.
 

oracacle

Senior Member
From what I am told there are basic compilers available for other micro controllers.
AFAIK the primary thing slowing picaxe is the fact that each chip has been flashed with a bootstrap program. when you compile your picaxe programme and upload it, it compiles to a list of "tokens" which is read by the bootstrap programme, Each of these tokens takes a few extra cycles to read over the fully compiled software. As a side note, most arduinos run @16mhz, but will often match a picaxe running up to four time the clock frequency
Although I don't know much about it, arduino use a bootloader to allow easy programming, this can be over writen (if you need more code space), or writen to a blank atmel chip. This is perhaps another perk that picaxe has missed (although i understand why). The bootloader does take a little space on the controller, however the code that you write is compiled down to the instruction sets for each of the controllers that you can use, this is why simple plugin can be used to allow for other controllers to be programmed by the same software.
All of that open-ness can cause revenue stream problems, the software is free, plugins are free, librarys are free. All you have to pay for is the boards, and again due to being open source there is an obundence of 3rd party boardswhich I am sure takes from the revenue stream. But being open source pretty much garrantees that people will make things work and publish there work meaning you ewnd up with a large and healthy community to support the system - and also enough so some will buy genuine boards to keep the ship a float, so to speak. Its a risky business model but they seem to have made work for them.
 

manuka

Senior Member
B.A.S.I.C. indeed is used on other micro platforms, although (micro)Python tends increasingly popular.

Aside from the ESP8266 persuasion (now itself eclipsed by the ESP32 ?) way back in 2011 Australian Geoff "Backshed" Graham developed a PIC32 based Micromite, which evolved into breadboard friendy clones,nano & pico versions. Even a RPi version emerged! All used a powerful MMBASIC. See =>

Sigh - it struck me even then that Rev.Ed could have aligned with these. Maybe they still will ... Stan.
 
Last edited:

Solar Mike

New Member
Well it seems there is a new kid on the block: MMBasic has been ported to RPi Pico platform (https://geoffg.net/picomite.html).
Can certainly recommend the Pi Pico RP2040 using micro-python or Basic; I have moved all my designs for PV charge controllers and AC inverters over to this from the Picaxe; If only Rev.Ed had keep up with technology and moved to a 32bit product would not have required to make the change.

Mike
 

wapo54001

Senior Member
Can certainly recommend the Pi Pico RP2040 using micro-python or Basic; I have moved all my designs for PV charge controllers and AC inverters over to this from the Picaxe; If only Rev.Ed had keep up with technology and moved to a 32bit product would not have required to make the change.
Oh my, this is exciting. Never looked at this before but breadboard-friendly, simple USB-connect, only $4USD each and a wealth of support to get started with a Basic interpreter. Not to mention 32-bit and 133MHz clock and floating point and I2C and more -- all the capabilities we've been asking about for the last decade.
 

PhilHornby

Senior Member
I believe there's a comment from @matherp (somewhere) in the PicoMite documentation, that 'steps have been taken to make it difficult... but it's still possible' (or words to that effect).
 

steliosm

Senior Member
Those are indeed nice alternatives to Picaxe but keep in mind that the Picaxe system was created to teach people about electronics and microcontrollers, and it does it's job nicely. It is not a one-size-fits-all solution, which is the case with the chips listed in that page, and you are supposed to move on to more advanced microcontrollers once you get comfortable with electronics and microcontrollers.

Still, many of us are pushing the limits on what this little gem can do and we get quite impressive results. It's not capabilities that this chip is missing, it's projects that show what you can actually do with it.
 

wapo54001

Senior Member
Those are indeed nice alternatives to Picaxe but keep in mind that the Picaxe system was created to teach people about electronics and microcontrollers, and it does it's job nicely. It is not a one-size-fits-all solution, which is the case with the chips listed in that page, and you are supposed to move on to more advanced microcontrollers once you get comfortable with electronics and microcontrollers.

Still, many of us are pushing the limits on what this little gem can do and we get quite impressive results. It's not capabilities that this chip is missing, it's projects that show what you can actually do with it.
Yes, it does do its school-oriented job nicely but I was startled to see that it is no longer in a class by itself. If you can buy an RPI Pico for $4 including carrier to make it breadboard ready, and with excellent documentation and sample programs and multiple programming languages and programmable with an el-cheapo USB cable that we all have already lying around, why stick with a system that is throttled by speed and feature limits that were current a decade ago and requiring a special (and somewhat costly) USB-to-serial cable just to program? Given all of that, I'm just not sure how long Picaxe will have the education field to itself.

The Picaxe was a godsend when, as an absolute programming novice a decade ago, I had a specific need, to create a precision volume control pot using four LDRs with terrible manufacturing tolerances. I got it done, but had to operate the 28x2 outside of its published specs to achieve the approximately 12-bit resolution I needed. Now, here's the $4 Pico with multiple 12-bit pins. And I really could have used floating point math! Which system would I use today?

"....chicken or the egg?" Are we "pushing the limits" because we are great programmers (not me!), or because the limits are so limiting that we have to push them to get anything done? The projects are missing because serious programmers have moved their projects to more capable systems, see Solar Mike's post above. There's that old adage in the technology field -- "if you're standing still, you're moving backwards."

Having said all that, I'm still very grateful to have found the Picaxe when I did back then and I still enjoy fiddling with it and keeping up with the forum. But I do see a Pico-for-fun in my near future.
 

manuka

Senior Member
Well said Wapo54001 ! Refer PICAXE background => https://www.allaboutcircuits.com/technical-articles/intro-to-picaxe/

In ~2002 I recall a tech. student saying he'd done more in 30 minutes with a PICAXE than he'd managed in 30 days with a raw PIC !

BUT that was e-yesteryear, pre dating current competitors & numerous e-tech features now taken for granted... Even USB was then exotic - I'd then a workmate who thought USB ports on his new laptop were just cooling vents. Stan.
 
Last edited:

steliosm

Senior Member
Indeed Stan, there is a lot of competition right now inside and outside schools. For example, Arduino has taken over the schools in my country due to a wealth of information available on line and off line (books) which makes it easier for a teacher to use as a a teaching material. I just hope Rev Ed is paying attention to what is happening out there.

Wapo54001 there is no one-chip-fits-all solution. You need to pick a chip that is able to do what you need to do. It doesn't make sense to use a Picaxe just because you have it lying there. If you need 32bit maths and USB you need to move to another chip and spend the time required to learn how to use it.
 
Top