Newbies drive me nuts !

Michael 2727

Senior Member
What is it with newbies, beginners or whatever you like to call them -
and the 28X project board ?????

Not being unkind about the name, I was once a newbie, everybody has to start somewhere.

But you see it week after week, " My 28X project board won't do this "
or " My 28X project board won't do that ".

It seems the 28X project boards attract newbies, like an Aussie BBQ attracts flies.
It wouldn't be so bad but some of these youngn's even not so young can't even tell
the difference between the anode or cathode
on a common 1K Ohm resistor "wink".

I don't mind giving anybody a helping hand and will gladly offer advice where I can.
Even if the person doesn't have a clue, I don't mind but at least get some practice on
something more your speed first up.

It's a bit like going for your "L" drivers permit then going out and buying a City Bus
to learn how to drive.

I don't own a 28 anything or for that matter even an 18 anything, I only have 08Ms.
After nearly 18 months I am still learning something new every day and there are still
dozens of things I have yet to try with the little 08M chips.

Rev-Ed need to have a rating system like on many other Kit, Project suppliers as to the
complexity of the particular project.
Would make our task in here a little easier and save much hair tearing, teeth gritting, and wringing of hands-looking skyward.

AXE092 <b>GET ONE FIRST ! </b> then move up, ~ ;o)



Programme Michael:

<code><pre><font size=2 face='Courier'>
Symbol Count As VeryVeryLongInteger

Count = Count + 1
PostMyRant = False
PauseToPutFalseTeethBackIn 1000
Loop Until CalmedDown = True or PubOpen=True

DoIUnderstandYourFrustration = True



Senior Member
i don't think dippy could have put it better!! , lmao

got to agree though they do need some kind of a rating system to a point but yet again there are quite a few thinsg that rev-ed should be considering as well.....



Senior Member
Dippy thats funny:)

&quot; some of these youngn's even not so young can't even tell
the difference between the anode or cathode
on a common 1K Ohm resistor &quot;wink&quot;.&quot;

I seem to have a hard time with this from time to time.;)

Edited by - charliem on 02/07/2007 16:07:17


Senior Member
<i>some of these youngn's even not so young can't even tell the difference between the anode or cathode </i>

That'll be me ( an old un ), and why I refer to pointy-ends of diodes and LED's. Well, maybe not so much that I don't know the difference, but can never remember which is which. I suspect a great many others don't know either so it's never really worried me as it gets the message over well enough ... even if it does make some cringe.

My pet hate is hearing 0V called &quot;ground&quot;, &quot;earth&quot; or worse of all, &quot;negative&quot;. I suspect battery terminal labelling and &quot;negative earth&quot; car terminology has a lot to do with that.

I can understand frustrations, and especially when people just don't seem to be listening or entirely lacking in cluons. The less it sinks in, the more annoying it gets. Most times that's a result of over-enthusiasm, jumping in too deep, and too busy flailing around to listen to bystanders. Sometimes it needs an, &quot;Oi! Stop, sit down, and listen&quot;.

Anyway, I've no problem with Michael's 'rant', fair points in there, and better out than in, and amongst friends is the best place to let it out.


Senior Member
<i>can't even tell the difference between the anode or cathode on a common 1K Ohm resistor &quot;wink&quot;. </i>

I've only just realised the full subtlety of that line. And it shows I don't always read exactly what's written or intended either. Must be my age <img src="smile.gif" width=15 height=15 align=middle>

Edited by - hippy on 02/07/2007 17:07:23


Senior Member
<i>My pet hate is hearing 0V called &quot;ground&quot;, &quot;earth&quot; or worse of all, &quot;negative&quot;. I suspect battery terminal labelling and &quot;negative earth&quot; car terminology has a lot to do with that. </i>

I got what little education I have from reading schematics on my own -- where the &quot;professionals&quot; mostly describe 0V as &quot;Earth&quot; &quot;Chassis Ground&quot; or &quot;Ground,&quot; and even have separate symbols for each. What's a poor amateur to do, if the pros don't get it right?

BTW, I think you omitted &quot;common&quot; (?)

Edited by - wapo54001 on 02/07/2007 17:30:48


Senior Member
I just wish people would read the documentation, there is so much more advantage and learning in solving your own problems if you can.

Having said that I realise that young folk, i.e. those under about 50, have a great reluctance to read anything that looks more than 20 words and often even more difficulty in understanding what it means (sorry folks but it's true) mainly because they don't re-read try to puzzle it out, experiment and try to understand the implications of what they see.

The is a civilised country when we push out 58,000+ students every year from school who can't count/read. (government figures)


Blimey, I must upset hippy all the time then as I habitually refer to 0V as ground. My pet hate is people not knowing what a true virtual ground is.

&gt;&gt; Quick, do a Google/Trickipeadia and pretend you knew all along....

Good luck to ALL newbies; don't let the ranting frighten you off - PLEASE be patient and PLEASE don't expect others to do ALL the work for you, - and PLEASE read the Data Sheets, you can't blame everything on dickslecksia.



Senior Member
Using the wrong terminology doesn't usually make my blood boil and I'll only rarely comment when there's a good reason to. I'll agree with wapo54001 there is widespread confusion and even dispute over what's correct and what isn't.

My rule has been, as long as it's clear and there's no confusion over what was meant it's generally okay even if technically wrong.

I hate encountering circuits which show +5V and -5V because then I have to check if there is a 0V somewhere else, or by -5V/+5V do they mean 0V/+10V will do, or did they mean 0V/+5V.

Anyone drawing a circuit with 0V at the top and +5V at the bottom needs to be hung upside down until they see the errors of their way :)

Anyone labelling a circuit with 0V at the top and -5V at the bottom ( yes, I've seen it ) had better have a good, rational and legitimate reason for doing so. Because while I'm a laid-back peaceful sort of chap ...


I guess I always use ground from the oldie habite of op-amps where +ve and 0V(Gnd) and -ve supplies are used.

In many occasions (esp sig and audio) with op-amps where dual rails/supplies are used the designer doesn't even mention + and - connections , just the schematic where some components go to 0V (aka 'Gnd' hippy aaarrgh!)

So, I'm going to stick to GND = 0V reference. 99.99% of designers (who expressed a preference) do the same.

But I am not going to write to Duracell to tell them to modify the &quot;+&quot; and &quot;-&quot; printed on their batteries as it upsets my mate hippy :))

What I really hate is people ending their posts with 'thanx' - jeez it's so girlie!


PS&gt; Rick is quite right re reading..and the lack of. Hey, but why bother when someone on the Forum will design it for you and code it for you... and , in some cases, even win a prize for you. Why write an essay when you can cut'n'paste....?

Tune in for more ironic questions next week in the next episode of &quot;I Hate Thickoes&quot; where special guest Dan Quayle will be showing us how to spell potato.

Edited by - dippy on 02/07/2007 20:12:32


New Member
Power connection terminology is also a pet peeve of mine and I think it really is a large source of confusion to new comers to electronics so I don't mind trying to explain the difference names and jargon used (at least once anyway)to them.

My preferred naming:

Circuit common or common

Using ground as a term other then for a real earthed ground connection will just lead to communications problems later for new comers. And using -12 to mean the negative connection of a battery to circuit common just toasts my lunch, every circuit utilizes a circuit common and so common should be the reference name regardless of the of the positive and/or negative voltage sources utilized.





Senior Member
I usually use GND and 0V interchangeably, although if you see positive and negative voltages in a circuit, that usually means there is a 0V somewhere in between as well. Could the terminology be a national thing? I'm an EE in the states, and even in my classes we all just called it 0V and GND interchangeably.


Senior Member
In reply to Michael's original rant about newbies starting out with a 28X project board, an observation:

A work colleague is doing a technology diploma course at the local TAFE (Technical And Further Education) college. The course has a couple PIC subject and the minimum sized chip they use is the PIC16F873 - the chip under the 28X. The argument is that it is the smallest chip that you can get 8 input and 8 output lines. (I'm still not sure why you have to have 8!!)

The AXE092 is a real gem (as is the 08M that goes with it). Also, it is so much easier to design a circuit board for an 8-pin PICAXE than any of the other sizes.

And I'm in hippy's age group: I have to carefully check where to connect the anode and cathode of every diode or LED. Funnily, transistors are not a problem for me- some things 'stick', others just don't.

Edited by - inglewoodpete on 03/07/2007 02:47:08


Senior Member
from the last ten years of my working life i can see it's mostly people being to lazy to read a manual, it's easier to get onto tech support like with ibm and compaq and toshiba
aparently most of the questions that get asked by customers could easily be answer by quickly clicking through the manual



Well, that was a fun read!
I do agree with Michael 2727 to some degree which is why I've been absent of late. I felt abstinence to be more positive than just responding with RTFM each time.
Also, I really wouldn't have a clue about the best way to answer a question such as &quot;which is the video out pin?&quot;

Re 0v, Gnd, Chassis, Earth, Common, -Ve +ve.
Hippy makes a valid point about the real requirement being clear indication rather than technical correctness. However, in the &quot;real world&quot;, particular the one of power distribution, the difference between 0v, Chassis &amp; Gnd can cost lives so there are times when it really does become important.

For those wanting to remember Anodes from Cathodes.
For Cathode, think of the sound the word makes, then think &quot;K&quot;. The clue is the sound and the shape of the letter. The &quot;bar&quot; on the device itself can be thought of as the main upright part of the letter &quot;K&quot;. That's how I've always remebered it but reference to &quot;pointy end&quot; is fine with me.
For LEDs, if your eyesight is good enough to see the structure inside, you will notive it looks a bit like a tap over a bucket. Water flows from tap to bucket. Therefore, positive supply goes to the tap and 0v to the bucket.


Senior Member
Given that picaxe was developed for students and this is a forum for people learning to get direction why use it vent bile at those same people? This isnt MIT or Bell Labs. If somone doesnt like beginners questions dont read 'em! The net is full of forums where people vent their angry, cyncial intolerance at the world. Lets not bring that vibe here.


Jeremy Leach

Senior Member
To add my &#8364;, I feel in this forum (and in general) help's only given willingly to people that demonstrate they are willing to put some effort in, do some investigation and reading-up in order to learn. So I shut off when people don't show any willingness to try. Otherwise I'd be wearing an &quot;I'm a Mug&quot; T-shirt (which I'm not!).


Absolutely Jeremy. I've got all the patience in the world for someone willing to learn and absolutely none for someone after a free ride.


Senior Member

In the good old days of the Valve (thats thermionic valves) the Anode was the top connection and received the electrons and so connected to the positive rail (electrons are negative of course)

The cathode was the source of electrons and had to be heated and connected to the ground side of the circuit (as was the chassis and everything else not connected to the positive side.

Thus when you look at a diode the bar looks like a minus sign (negative) so is the cathode and connected to the negative side of the circuit if you wnat the diode to conduct.

Indeed the flat on the case of an LED also looks like a minus sign and should be connected to the negative side to make the LED conduct and light.



Michael 2727

Senior Member
&quot;A&quot; in the Alphabet comes before &quot;C&quot; or &quot;K&quot; and thats the way the current goes.

Every time I pick up an LED I look through it, just to make sure, though I need glasses now.

As for the -, -NEG, Neg, 0V, Ground, Common, Earth, Chassis, Negative debate
that will still be going long after we are all dead. Use whatever you prefer as long
as it gets the message across. I have yet to see a split rail picaxe. But you never know.

As far as my Rant goes, it was far too sedate and lacking in colourful language to
be clasified as a rant. I didn't see any Bile in there either, but people will read
into it what they think.
I was merely pointing out there seems to be an increasing number of newbies/beginners/
whatever buying 18X, 28X, 40X boards then posting &quot;it's broken&quot; only to find out 15
posts into the thread, they don't even know (electrically) which way is UP.
<b> Guys give us a break ! </b> There are many in the forum who give a lot of time to
sorting out others woes, from the most simple to the extraordinarily complex problems.
But if you frustrate the hell out of someone for long enough, they can, do and will just walk away.
And the Wednesday night posts, blah, blah, blah and I need it by Friday, crack me up,<b>Click ! </b>

Technical: please make an FAQ or beginners guide, Pre-Posting Page.


Senior Member
yes i gotta love that, it's only human to leave it the last minute, i have a manager at work that does that with a 4 million dollar contract then wonders why the boss has words with him regarding his lazyness... mind you i would have sacked him by now



More like a semi-rant really Michael.

These frustrations crop up on an annual basis I think and are perfectly understandable, though maybe we should just think it rather than type it as it can frighten nervous newbie away?

My advice; give some tenderly written suggestions. Then if it gets too much simply walk away and think about shooting Nesbit.

I predict that as PICAXE becomes more sophisticated (i.e. more features) then we will see more &quot;My PICAXE is Broken&quot; postings. And I agree a Diffuclty Level would be handy on each kit/project board as some people seem to have no concept of even what a resistor is for.

And even this thread has gone off on a Component Polarity tangent.

I really think it is time for this Forum to have a Code Example link where newbies can at least see some examples to get a grip on things. Yes, schoolkids can cut'n'paste but Teacher can ask them to explain.

Maybe it's time for a easy-reading Reference Book for this product?
Hard work - yes. Time consuming - yes. Written all in lower-case no. But if it explains things from resistors upwards with brief simple examples then it could save Michael's sanity. It could even pictures of neat breadboards. It could become standard school/college issue... (and if it was ringbound then updates could be purchased).

Now tell me, I've connected my PICAXE directly to mains and it briefly produced a lot of heat. I can't programme it any more. Is this normal?


New Member
Eee Ecky Thump to anyone who ever posts a 28X question!! To all newbies - occasionally the experts need to let off steam so don't take it personally. I would second the comment about 08Ms - these chips, or networks of these chips, can do anything the big chips can.

Re the comments on Gnd, at the risk of being hung, drawn, quartered and hung by the neck till I cheer up, I would suggest that anyone who programs a picaxe has already connected 0V to Gnd. At least in the PCs I own, 0V is connected internally in the power supply to the mains neutral, which is then connected to Gnd in the switchbox via the house earth stake. I found this out the hard way after I tried to connect the 12V outputs of two PC supplies together in series to make 24VDC. So in a complete circuit showing the download 10k/22k, and by implication a connection to a PC, one could use Gnd or 0V interchangeably. This isn't true if the same circuit is then powered by a plugpack or transformer where the secondary is usually floating.

Go newbies - keep posting the questions!

Edited by - Dr_Acula on 03/07/2007 11:56:15


Senior Member
Cathode and anode? It's pretty simple.

The anode connection is the thingie sticking out of the top of the tube, where you connect B+. The cathode is one of the pins sticking out of the bottom, and is usually connected at, or near, chassis DC potential.



I had never heard of anode and cathode before reading this thread ;)

I think having a book with code samples is a good idea. I find personally that just reading through the code and seeing good ways to use and implemente it is all I need to be able to write better code. Otherwise I would ust be scratching my head going what the...

Also having a breif rundown of components is a good idea. Often online resources get very heavy and start intoducing not so simple formula, which is fine if you arnt starting out, but can be daunting when you are.


Senior Member
BeaniBots :<i>The &quot;bar&quot; on the device itself can be thought of as the main upright part of the letter &quot;K&quot;. </i>

I had never noticed that before, but I doubt I'll forget it now. Many thanks.<code><pre><font size=2 face='Courier'> | / | /| /\
|&lt; ---|&lt; |--- /__\
| \ | \| / \ </font></pre></code>


Senior Member
on the subject of the handbook with a whole heap of circuits and code samples in it
the owner of is currently writing a book based on the picaxe which is going to have quite a few circuits and code sample in it but i think it's been delayed because of the release of the x1's

but ideally there needs to be a links tab up the top that links to Hippy's website plus a few others simply because there is a massive wealth of code and circuit diagrams there that would give a lot of newbies a great deal of help

also what wouldn't hurt is a website or a section on this website where using a standard &quot;project template&quot; you could email in your circuit diagrams and code samples to be hosted in a projects section

somthing that would be good is a java based chat room that you could potentially get onto and just have a chit chat about the picaxe or ask a question about a problem, chances are you've got the breadboard in front of you , you could give it a go while in the chat room at the same time
it'd certainly relieve some of the frustration some of the newbies feel when they have a project that needs to be finished fairly quickly or they don't want to wait up to 24 hours for an answer



Senior Member
When I was starting a project with an 08M, I was looking for a way to accurately set an output voltage using PWM. Wilf_nv showed me how to use an integrator circuit instead, and also shared some really fine code to make it happen. It was a breakthrough for me, completely changed the character of the project and made it hugely better.

Ever since, I've wished that there was a place in the forum to move a really, really, good piece of information or a technique to get something done, someplace to go and browse and come across good idea after good idea. A goldmine of information.

Searching the forum is OK, but gems of information quickly get covered over with verbiage. . .


New Member
A very fine example of a friendly and use friendly forum, but have to use its search engine if looking for anything specific. Not electronics.

Cheers, Steve S.

Edited by - steska on 03/07/2007 15:24:35


Cheers Rick, I've got it sorted. I had connected my washing machine round the wrong way on Output0. I hadn't noticed that the edge of the soap tray can be thought of as the main upright part of the letter &quot;K&quot;.
:) enough already...

Michael 2727

Senior Member
To any Newbies I have managed to scare away, please come back.
I don't eat newbies for lunch, well not a whole one anyway, I'm not that much of a piggy.

Newbie input here would also be welcome, come in, say Hi, have your say also.

A library of code snippets would go a long way to helping beginners get up and running.
There seems to be a strong ethos in the forum, that if you can't or don't work the
problem on your own, then you will never learn anything. I say absoulte BS to that !
If everybody in here had to re-invent the wheel for all of their aquired knowledge we
would still be living in the stone age. (my opinion, you are quite entitled to your own)

There will always be the opportunists who will look for the easy way out, but they
always come unstuck in the end, easy as, opps the LED dropped out of the
breadboard now where did that go ?, as their project is being graded.

If you have a pleasant introduction to any new technology you are far more
likely to move on to bigger and better things.

My first experience with Micros-PICs, was very daunting and frustrating, it only
lasted about 2 months, I gave up in disgust, as I susspect many thousands of
others have over the years. It took me around 3 days just to get a single LED
flashing how I wanted it to. I used code I found on the Net and stripped away
what I didn't need and modified what was left. I did manage to put together a
simple code in the end but it took nearly a month. PIC12C508 / PIC16F84.

Arguments for and against this will probably go on even longer than the, Neg, Earth
0V, Ground debate. I say the more code examples the better.

I will also help any beginner, even if it is getting your first Picaxe to flash an LED.
But if you don't even know which way the Battery goes, don't bug me, RTFM first.

BTW a common 1K resistor does not have an Anode or Cathode, that was just
to see who was paying attention <img src="smile.gif" width=15 height=15 align=middle>. <b>Stop Googling, </b> Dippy can hear you.



Senior Member
I'd suggest anyone who goes to the trouble of acquiring some picaxes,a breadboard/pcb etc, then finds this forum, then posts a question has already shown they're willing to have a go. 99.999% people don't even get that far.
I don't want some young kid to have his fragile sense of self further degraded by a harsh or intolerant answer he got from me.

I despise the way our education system relies on the fear of rejection to motivate young people. (Learn or we'll fail you sonny!, then youll have a bit of paper to take home so that everyone else in your life you care about will know you're a looser too!)

I know for a fact that one of the most highly qualified guys who regularly posts on this forum, Manuka, goes out of his way to teach young kids and rank beginners electronics.

I'd like to see a series of tutorials on youtube on how to wire up a 0M8 on a bread board, how to get a led to flash, which end of the led is which, how to strip insulation off wire, how to solder. etc. I haven't got a camcorder to film myself. Is anyone else up for? Many basic questions could be answered there in a visual medium that a lot of young people would find easy to absorb.



Senior Member
<i>I'd like to see a series of tutorials on youtube on how to wire up a 0M8 on a bread board, how to get a led to flash, which end of the led is which, how to strip insulation off wire, how to solder. etc. </i>

Brendan, that's a very good idea. I haven't put together a tutorial video since the '80s, and don't have the equipment anymore. However, my digicam takes serviceable video, and I have lots of video editing software.