Saving Version 6 for later use - Can not program chips

hbl2013

Senior Member
#1
I have two questions about using the Software
1. How do I save the Version 6 installation file from the PICAXE.com download page on a flash drive so that I can install it on an computer that does not have Internet capabilities, and
2. I have 3 computers one running XP, the others 7, and have an identical problem on all of them; they all show the COM problem where the message appears where the program reports that the Port is not working because there is nothing connected to it. (Message="Error: Hardware not connected") Resetting the chip does not work.
I have used three different program cables, one AX027 and two FT232R- type program cables obtained from Sparkfun, and neither one will work. I also have used three different project boards with these cables, with all the same negative result. Neither changing chips (18M2, 20M2 and 20X2 used ) will solve the problem. All these cables and boards worked a week ago with the same computers I use now. All the cables passed the tests as shown in the Port tests in Editor 6, that is shorting the sleeves of the plug as shown in the illustrations will produce the test sentence as shown. The project boards were used successfully before.
As I understand it, the PICAXE chips have an build in loader program than constantly monitors the Serial Input. As it receives a specific code, it will load in the data as transmitted by the program in the computer. I can measure the TX level going up to 5V as I request a down load on the project board, but nothing happens with the level of the RX pin, it remains 0V. (Measured at the chip itself) To me, that means that the chip does not answer the request from the computer, which as a result will think that nothing is connected to the cable.
I never have had a problem persists so stubbornly, in most cases changing one of the components involved, (cable, chips, project board, even computers) would solve the problem, here nothing I do gets the circuit to work.
Any suggestions, anyone?
 

hippy

Technical Support
Staff member
#2
For saving the PE6 installation file; clicking the "PICAXE Editor (main installer)" button should cause your browser to bring up a "Run" / "Save" dialogue, Simply select "save" and choose a folder on the memory stick, or a folder on hard disk and then copy it to memory stick later. Alternatively, right clicking over the button should produce a "Save As" or "Save Link As" option which allows the file to be saved.

For the 'hardware not found' issue; you need to measure the Download Serial In pin. It could be that the PICAXE needs a Hard reset.
 

hbl2013

Senior Member
#3
1. Thanks for the reply. I will do so.
2. UP DATE The problem I have is rather scary. It turns out that the chips used are the cause of all of it. I have gotten brand new chips and substituted the ones in the breadboards, and things started to work. Every board that did not work, worked with the new chips, so it was not a circuit problem. Remember, all the non-working boards, worked before I stopped working with them about a month ago.
That was yesterday, I went through all of the new chips, checked them, and found them working. But today, some did not work in the same circuit they worked yesterday! Again, substituting them, some worked, others did not.
That is the scary part I mentioned before. As far as I can determine, somehow, switching the power off did something to the chip and ruined them. How else can I explain the same chip working one day and not the next; in the very same circuit?
The power circuit used is standard, a 7505 regulator with a capacitor at the front and back rail, fed from a 9V power wart. The on/off switch is in series with the power lead coming from the power wart. ( I wonder if switching the power wart itself would help?)
PS Hippy: Resetting does not help, I tried it every time. The Serial In Pin measures 0V, and does not change regardless what I do.
Comments anyone?
 

nick12ab

Senior Member
#4
The power circuit used is standard, a 7505 regulator with a capacitor at the front and back rail, fed from a 9V power wart. The on/off switch is in series with the power lead coming from the power wart. ( I wonder if switching the power wart itself would help?)
PS Hippy: Resetting does not help, I tried it every time. The Serial In Pin measures 0V, and does not change regardless what I do.
Comments anyone?
Do you have decoupling capacitors fitted mounted as close to the PICAXE as possible?

Does the Serial In pin still measure 0V all the time even with a PICAXE that programs?

When trying a 'reset', did you try disconnecting the power supply from the PICAXE, starting the download then reconnecting the power?
 
#5
If there is significant decoupling, a power reset by simply switching off power to the 7805 will not work. (not instantly anyway).
Switch off and then short out the power rail across the PICAXE. (to discharge the decouplers).
Then start the down load and then switch power back on.

Double check that the PICAXE is getting 5v.
If the ground pin on the 7805 has become disconnected then PICAXE will see the full 9v.
 

hbl2013

Senior Member
#6
If there is significant decoupling, a power reset by simply switching off power to the 7805 will not work. (not instantly anyway).
Switch off and then short out the power rail across the PICAXE. (to discharge the decouplers).
Then start the down load and then switch power back on.

Double check that the PICAXE is getting 5v.
If the ground pin on the 7805 has become disconnected then PICAXE will see the full 9v.
I have tried to reset as you suggested with no result, and yes the chip gets 5V. In the mean time I changed the power supply to prevent higher voltages. (read further)

I use mainly the solderless boards, where only the power rails are decoupled. I have no decoupling close to the chip it self. Some of my other boards are Vector Boards, sometimes with no copper on one side, sometimes they have copper. I make a habit of having a ground rail going around the peripheral of the board, a left over from the digital chip age, when prototype boards were equipped with power rails.
What would be better, a quick shut off (Smaller bypass capacitors, 10-220uF) or a slower one? (Big bypass capacitors. I use 680uF, have tons of those).
I use now power warts that are rated 5V DC and leave the 5V regulator in the circuit as a safety precaution to see if that helps. ( As an alternative, I also could use a diode in series for safety and to drop the voltage slightly)

BTW I have asked the following before, but never got an answer. (Maybe there is no answer!)
Is there anyway you can check a PICaxe chip to see if it is OK in other respects? ( Like, ' it is OK as a straight chip, but it lost the loading program somehow' ). I have had the above problem before, but can not remember having it with one board after another. I still have some chips which were working, but somehow do not program anymore.
I keep them in the hope that I can use them as straight chips one day.
 

hippy

Technical Support
Staff member
#7
There should be no reason a PICAXE will be damaged simply through powering it on and off. If multiple chips are no longer working it suggests there is some systemic issue with the way you are using the chips or the hardware they are being used with.

If chips work one day and not the next it suggests there is either a program loaded into them which prevents subsequent downloads and firmware checks ( and that should be resolvable with a hard reset ) or there is some issue with the hardware which is causing the chips to be damaged.

We would recommend excluding the power supply and regulator from the issue and using a 3 x AA batteries to power the hardware.

It would also be worth posting details of the code used to test your PICAXE chips along with circuit diagrams of the hardware being used and photographs of those boards.
 

hbl2013

Senior Member
#8
There should be no reason a PICAXE will be damaged simply through powering it on and off. If multiple chips are no longer working it suggests there is some systemic issue with the way you are using the chips or the hardware they are being used with.

If chips work one day and not the next it suggests there is either a program loaded into them which prevents subsequent downloads and firmware checks ( and that should be resolvable with a hard reset ) or there is some issue with the hardware which is causing the chips to be damaged.
That is the scary part I was talking about, because I had used these boards off and on many times using the same program with corrections to it, typical of developing a program. If my hardware introduces conditions that causes the chip used to fail permanently after downloads, I surely like to know of it. Remember, this failure occurred with three different boards, containing three different chips and three different programs. The only thing common here is the fact that I used 9v DC and 7505s to regulate the voltage down to 5V. (And again, I always tried a hard reset in such cases, without any success)


We would recommend excluding the power supply and regulator from the issue and using a 3 x AA batteries to power the hardware.
I will start doing so to prevent any possible voltages in excess of 5V.

It would also be worth posting details of the code used to test your PICAXE chips along with circuit diagrams of the hardware being used and photographs of those boards.
There is not much to show with solderless breadboards, but I will start doing so.
 

hbl2013

Senior Member
#9
BTW I have asked the following before, but never got an answer. (Maybe there is no answer!)
Is there anyway you can check a PICaxe chip to see if it is OK in other respects? ( Like, ' it is OK as a straight chip, but it lost the loading program somehow' ).
Is there no answer to this question? Or can I use a PICKIT2 or 3 to read something to indicate if the chip is no longer usable as a PICAXE chip?
 

nick12ab

Senior Member
#10
Is there no answer to this question? Or can I use a PICKIT2 or 3 to read something to indicate if the chip is no longer usable as a PICAXE chip?
A PICAXE won't lose the PICAXE interpreter unless you try to reprogram it with a PIC programmer.

Did you read post 4?
 

hbl2013

Senior Member
#11
Sorry to disagree nick12ab I have an handful of bad, non programmable chips to prove it that something happens in ( supposedly) normal PICAXE circuits when I power down the circuit. (See my #8 posting, one day they worked, the next they refused to be programmed.)
 

techElder

Well-known member
#12
Ok, here goes. (I've been trying not to say it, but you forced me! :) )

I have programmed 40 million PICAXES and have never bricked a single one.

PS. Yes, I exagerated the number, but its a bunch without problems.

PPS. Could you at least TRY to imagine that YOU might be doing something wrong? Thanks. :)
 

hbl2013

Senior Member
#13
Ok, here goes. (I've been trying not to say it, but you forced me! :) )


PPS. Could you at least TRY to imagine that YOU might be doing something wrong? Thanks. :)
No offense, but please read my posts carefully. I DO imagine that I did something wrong, the question is WHAT and how do I prevent my no-load problems? I sure like to know why I have these chips that do not work anymore, and were working the other day?
Again, imagining a project board with a chip that programs normally, and I finish for the day, shutting it down and putting it away. The next day, I connect everything back and the chip does not program. Now, just substituting the one used with an other one chip in the same circuit get the system going again. And I can do it infinite times! Back and forward, - not working, change to new one - working, back old chip - not working, change to new one - working, etc.
I envy you that you have programed zillions of chips without any troubles, I have several chips that are defective (Do not program) after a lot less cycles.
And this is not the first time I ran into that trouble over the years, just the first time I posted the problem.
 

nick12ab

Senior Member
#14
No offense, but please read my posts carefully. I DO imagine that I did something wrong, the question is WHAT and how do I prevent my no-load problems? I sure like to know why I have these chips that do not work anymore, and were working the other day?
Again, imagining a project board with a chip that programs normally, and I finish for the day, shutting it down and putting it away. The next day, I connect everything back and the chip does not program. Now, just substituting the one used with an other one chip in the same circuit get the system going again. And I can do it infinite times! Back and forward, - not working, change to new one - working, back old chip - not working, change to new one - working, etc.
This was probably caused by your program. If you've used disconnect or serrxd, you will need to follow the hard reset procedure properly to reprogram it:
  1. Click the Program button
  2. Wait for 'Connecting to hardware' to appear
  3. Now connect power!
You've said you have no decoupling capacitors. Part of your circuit may cause interference once the PICAXE has activated it, which could then be preventing the download. Again, you need to try a hard reset. Decoupling capacitors normally used are 100nF (close to the power pins) and 100uF.
 
#15
I have used hundreds of PICAXE chips and programmed them thousands of times. I have had to use the "hard reset" process many (Ie dozens of) times to recover and reprogram chips. A question: Have you (hbl2013) ever successfully performed a hard reset on a PICAXE? If not, I respectfully suggest that you review your method - it does work.

I have "lost" (permanently damaged) about 3 PICAXE chips over ten years, all due to power supply failure, where the voltage rose above 5.5v (8v actually).
 

hbl2013

Senior Member
#16
I have used hundreds of PICAXE chips and programmed them thousands of times. I have had to use the "hard reset" process many (Ie dozens of) times to recover and reprogram chips. A question: Have you (hbl2013) ever successfully performed a hard reset on a PICAXE? If not, I respectfully suggest that you review your method - it does work.

I have "lost" (permanently damaged) about 3 PICAXE chips over ten years, all due to power supply failure, where the voltage rose above 5.5v (8v actually).
If you have read my posts, I have done all the procedures suggested by the readers, with no avail. No failures of any kind. Only the replacement of the non-loading chip with a brand new one will get the system to work again, then to promptly fail again to program the next time after I switch it OFF and then ON again.
I have now over a dozen chips of all kinds, that refuse to be programmed, no matter what I do. And all of those where successfully programmed at one time.
I am now out of working chips, and have to stop working with them. I do not dare buying more chips until I know what is going on because anyone of them will stop working after the first time being programmed.

The only thing in common with any of my setups, is the software. Is there a hidden bug that is biting me and rendering my chips inoperative?
 
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