Running Picaxe Editor 6 on a Raspberry Pi

d.p.smith

New Member
I teach the GCSE Electronics and we've just switched to Surfaces at school during the lockdown. The problem is getting Picaxe Editor 6 and the AXE027 cable driver (this is the real problem) on the pupil's surfaces is proving really tricky.... I'm looking for a cheap alternative and someone suggested the possibility of getting a Pi to run something like windows 10 and running Picaxe Editor 6 and the AXE027 cable through it. Has anyone had any success trying this?
 

erco

Senior Member
I can't answer the question myself, but it's an interesting one. A little Googling led to this page, which says a $55 RPi4 can run Windows 11 Insider Preview edition, and that other users have run Windows 10 IoT Core: https://www.pcgamer.com/windows-11-raspberry-pi/

I don't know if or how much you'll pay for a Windows license for a Pi. Windows 8 was free on tablets under 9", which later could be upgraded to Windows 10. BTW most old PCs running Win7 or Win8 can still be upgraded for free to Win 10: https://www.zdnet.com/article/heres-how-you-can-still-get-a-free-windows-10-upgrade/

I do some teaching with Picaxes, and 2 years ago I started buying (OK, hoarding) cheap Toshiba laptops with Windows 10 to run PE5, which IMO is easier for first-timers. I have dozens of them and paid ~$50 apiece, since they have have 2GB RAM and 32GB storage, non-upgradeable. They take some TLC to keep updated with Win 10, which takes up most of that 32GB. But they work fine for programming Picaxes, surfing the internet and watching Netflix. They definitely won't take Windows 11, but Win10 will be supported for 4-5 more years. These might be an option for you, a complete laptop for less than a RasPi 4 bare board.

 

bogbean

Member
I use an axe027 with my raspberry pi to program picaxes but I have to make do with a text editor to write the code on the pi, I’ve never really contemplated trying to get PE6 on it. I followed some existing instructions on this forum to help me with the axe027 driver and the binaries for uploading code, I can dig them out if they would help you. I’m afraid I can’t help with the PE6 side of things.
 

hippy

Technical Support
Staff member
someone suggested the possibility of getting a Pi to run something like windows 10 and running Picaxe Editor 6 and the AXE027 cable through it. Has anyone had any success trying this?
I doubt anyone has tried it. While it may be possible I imagine the experience will be less than satisfactory. I am not sure the AXE027 drivers would work and I suspect not.

The main problem is the Pi is an ARM architecture and, while there is a Windows 10 for ARM, it uses emulation to run X86 code which would impact on PE6 performance. Then there are licensing issues.

Some say Windows on ARM will run on a Pi 2 upwards but most say a Pi 4B with 4GB or 8GB of memory which will set you back around £65 or £85 each including PSU and case. At that price you can get second-hand 64-bit PC systems with huge hard disks and Windows 10 pre-installed, and it's not much more for a new system.

Note that Windows 10 IoT for a Pi is obsoleted, is not a Windows 10 Desktop OS, is not a solution here.

The problem is getting Picaxe Editor 6 and the AXE027 cable driver (this is the real problem) on the pupil's surfaces is proving really tricky....
I presume that is the AXE027 drivers refusing to run once installed. I recall there were a couple of issues reported with Microsoft Surface Pro 3 before the pandemic but am not sure anyone got to the bottom of that, why it only affected the 3 and not earlier versions.

If you could detail what the problem is, what hardware you have, that might help towards resolving the issue.
 

steliosm

Senior Member
A good alternative to PE6 might be the Picaxe Cloud. Of course, that means that you must be able to run the application to program the Picaxe and also managed to get the AX027 working.
 

PhilHornby

Senior Member
The main problem is the Pi is an ARM architecture and, while there is a Windows 10 for ARM, it uses emulation to run X86 code which would impact on PE6 performance.
The OS itself runs natively, but there is an emulation mode for existing X86 apps. An X64 emulation was announced last December.

These are just intended as stop-gaps, until the relevant developers port their apps to run natively. Adobe have recently announced the release of native versions of Photoshop & Lightroom.

So the solution to it impacting PE6 performance, is .....
... I wait with bated breath :)
 

hippy

Technical Support
Staff member
Developing a native ARM version of any software requires the development tools to produce native ARM binaries and any sub-components used by that software to be compatible. That usually involves effort and costs, may not always be possible, and I am not sure there would be enough of a business case for that to happen for PE6. I am certain we will keep an eye on the Windows on ARM market but it doesn't seem to be very large for now.

If someone does have a Windows on ARM system it would be interesting to hear how PE6 does perform, or doesn't, whether there are any issues.
 

PhilHornby

Senior Member
Developing a native ARM version of any software requires the development tools to produce native ARM binaries and any sub-components used by that software to be compatible.
That might already exist: Get started building Win32 apps as ARM64EC
That usually involves effort and costs, may not always be possible, and I am not sure there would be enough of a business case for that to happen for PE6. I am certain we will keep an eye on the Windows on ARM market but it doesn't seem to be very large for now.
I suppose it depends on whether ARM-based processors oust Intel and AMD

Incidentally, folks may not know that ARM don't actually manufacture chips - I didn't until very recently.

(I should probably confess some bias here ... my daughter has just started working for ARM :) - I'm jealous beyond words!)

Anyway, I've just bought a new desktop with an AMD Ryzen 5950X processor. Given the cost, I'm hoping it will be adequate for the next 15 years...
 

papaof2

Senior Member
16 cores, 32 threads, 3.4GHz. That could keep up with a really fast typist, but can it run XP? ;-)

15 years? Possibly, but that depends on what you're doing. I still use a Dell D630 (~15 years old) for writing (9 books on Amazon and another in progress) because I'm comfortable with the keyboard and the screen - and replacement laptops are in the $120-$150US range if I can't fix it. Other than a broken power connector - a D630 bumped off the cooling fan stand and the power connector caught all the weight. The plug from the power supply was OK but the motherboard was damaged and I chose to not perform brain surgery :-(
 

PhilHornby

Senior Member
16 cores, 32 threads, 3.4GHz. That could keep up with a really fast typist, but can it run XP? ;-)
I've not managed to get it to use more than 11% CPU usage yet :)
It's a got a boot 'disk' that is so fast, it could transfer the entire contents of an IBM PC XT 10MB disk in 1.6mS, which is completely bonkers!

I wonder what I'll use it for ? :unsure:

It's a replacement for a system I put together myself in 2011. The thing is, that system only needed a bit more memory adding and a couple of 2nd-hand SSDs from eBay to become perfectly viable again. I'm trying to think what to use that for too :)
 

papaof2

Senior Member
Start your own video recording studio? Do a series of YouTube videos about PICAXE? You should have an excellent platform for video editing and it can probably write DVD/BluRay at whatever the media's maximum speed is if you want "physical" copies.

The quad core 3GHz system I built several years ago does duty as the "big" XP or Win 10 tower - just swap the boot SSD and do whatever (separate SSDs instead of dual boot). The data drive on that one is 2TB so it also serves as the backup for small devices. It has wired 1GB Ethernet and it's on a 5 port switch so any device with wired network capability can connect at the switch for the fastest possible transfer - nice when I'm copying a genealogy with some 10,000 people in it that goes back to the 1700s.
 

oracacle

Senior Member
Currently running a Ryzen 3700x max it to boost clocks fairly regularly. Weirdly, for the most part it's not the CPU that's an issue, it's ram. One always built my machines with double the current ram standard which makes the machine fairly future proof
 
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