earlier in the MikroBasic section is the built-in debugger.
It will actually simulate the operation so you can step
through the code and watch the various registers and
variables change. This is a nice feature included for free.
Microchip offers a student version of their C18
compiler that you can download for free. The limit is
the optimization level similar to the one in HI-TECH Pro.
The C18 compiler works with the PIC18F parts, so the
18F4220 might be a good choice to use in the BasicBoard
with this one. The sample code is a little sparse but
there’s documentation supporting this compiler including
a Getting Started manual you can download. This
compiler can be found at www.microchip.com/c18.
Figure 5. MPLAB assembly language screen.
This is another compiler from MikroElektronica (www.
mikroe.com) except this one uses the C language. I found
this compiler easy to work with and the sample programs
are good examples. The sample version is limited to 2K so
a PIC16F871 should work fine. One thing I didn’t mention
If you are willing to write your code in PIC assembly,
then download the Microchip MPLAB IDE (Figure 5) which
comes with the MPASM assembler already included. There
are no limitations in this one. You can write your code in
assembly, simulate it in the MPLAB simulator, and then
import the .hex file into your programmer to work with a
PIC16F87x part. There are no memory limitations so a
PIC16F876A or the new PIC16F886 would be a good
choice. MPLAB can be downloaded from www.microchip.
com/mplab. This IDE can also be used with the PICBASIC
PRO, CCS C, and HI-TECH C PRO compilers. I find it a little
difficult to use initially, but after some time found it to be
very good. It also supports all the Microchip programmers
so that gives you more options to program the 40 pin PIC.
There are more compiler options than what I listed
here, but as you can see the 40 pin package is popular
among sample versions. Any development board that
supports 40 pin PICs will work the same as the BasicBoard,
so shop for the features you want. The BasicBoard has key
features I like such as LEDs, switches, piezo speaker, and
LCD on board plus a few extras. Expansion pins allow you
to plug in servos or sensors so the board is handy, and
using it with a compiler makes it more versatile.
Time for a Change
The title of this column has been BasicBoard
Robotics since I was using the BasicBoard module from
BeginnerElectronics.com for many of the projects.
However, SERVO Magazine and myself have come to realize
that the focus here should change to electronics knowledge
for the beginner with a direct focus on electronics for the
The column title will change to Beginner Electronics
starting in the February 2009 issue, so look for an
upcoming project then. SV
60 SERVO 12.2008