download with the EZPIC programmer, then
you really don’t have anything to set up.
There are also several books written on this
compiler to help you get started.
would need to program it with a PICAXE
adapter and their software. There are
numerous websites that offer a breadboard
programming adapter so you can program it
on something simple and of low cost, and
then move it to the BasicBoard. The PICAXE
software is free to download from picaxe.
com and offers you the opportunity to
program in a flowchart method rather than
the text method required by the other
compilers. You can also type it; the Basic
language format is very similar to the Basic
Atom, PICBASIC PRO, and PROTON compilers.
I’ve only found one book on the PICAXE
titled Programming and Customizing the
PICAXE Microcontroller by David Lincoln; it helped me get
started but I found several mistakes in the book related to
the wiring diagrams. I tried to convert a BasicBoard to a
PICAXE board but the schematics in the book didn’t work.
I’ll have to spend more time on that.
The Proton compiler from Crownhill
Associates is another Basic compiler that comes
in a sample version. It also supports a 40 pin PIC
— the 16F877. Notice that the part number
doesn’t have an “A” after it. I didn’t try an F877A
but I suspect it still might work. The F877A is
a little cheaper and easier to get than the
non-A version, which is actually an older part.
This compiler’s sample version lets you use up to
50 commands. The command structure is also very similar
to the Basic Atom software. You can download it from
Proton also comes with its own IDE which looks very
similar to the one in PICBASIC PRO. Load the .hex file in
your programmer or set up your programmer in the IDE.
I’ve used this trial version a few times and found it’s got
some very interesting features. I’ll let you explore this
choice since I’m not an expert on any of these compilers.
Figure 4. PICBASIC PRO
Another Basic language choice is MikroBasic from
MikroElektronica ( www.mikroe.com). This sample version
supports all the various PICs so you have a lot of 40 pin
choices. The sample version limits you to only 2K program
space so (once again) the 16F871 may be a good choice.
This compiler also supports many of the 18F family of PICs.
The 18F4220 is a 2K memory part in a 40 pin package.
The pinout for the 18F4220 is the same as the 16F877A, so
this will plug right into the BasicBoard. The 18F family runs
faster than the 16F parts and has many more features. This
is a great sample version to try. I’ve created a lot of projects
in less than 2K so that isn’t much of a limitation. You can
download this compiler at www.mikroe.com/en/compilers/
MikroBasic has its own IDE as well, which is very
different than PICBASIC PRO’s or Proton’s IDE. I also don’t
know if you can add a separate programmer to this one.
They have it set up to drive their own programmer which
makes sense because they probably get a lot of people that
just use the sample version. I didn’t try anything complex
but was able to get it to flash an LED on the BasicBoard.
The Swordfish compiler from Mecanique
( www.mecanique.co.uk) is advertised as a structured
Basic compiler. However, it looks a lot like a C compiler
with prewritten functions that match the Basic language
structure. This is actually very clever and makes a nice
transition point to the C language offerings.
This compiler can be downloaded for free and is fully
functional. It only supports the PIC18F microcontrollers and
the only limitation is the amount of RAM you can access in
the microcontroller. I didn’t get a chance to try it out but I
have heard that people really like its performance.
CCS C Compiler
If you just want to write in the C language, then the
CCS C compiler from Custom Computer Services Inc.
( ccsinfo.com) may be for you. They offer many built-in
prewritten functions to make it easier to write a program
for the PIC microcontroller. Their sample version also
supports the PIC16F877 but it times-out after 30 days. So,
don’t install it until you are ready to write your code.
There are several books on the CCS compiler, however, I
personally haven’t checked any of them out.
HITECH C PRO-Lite
Many people start out with the PICAXE chips from
Revolution Education Ltd. So of course, the PICAXE comes
in a 40 pin version, as well. The 40 pin PICAXE-40X1 costs
These chips have a bootloader in them, so they cannot
be programmed with an off-the-shelf PIC programmer. You
The HI-TECH C PRO compiler for the PIC10/12/16 MCU
family is a full-featured ANSI C compiler. This C compiler has
no memory limitations other than it won’t fully optimize
your code to its smallest size. For that, you need to buy the
full version. If you know how to write in C code, then this is
a great compiler to use to get a chip running on the
BasicBoard. The compiler produces a .hex file so the EZPIC
programmer or any PIC programmer will work with it. The
HI-TECH website is at www.htsoft.com.
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