by William Smith
Fon the Microchip PIC development system that has
been around for a while. Basic Micro has created some
or those not familiar with the Basic Atom, it is based
new development boards for the AtomNano, which will be
offered in a 28-pin and 40-pin version just like the Basic
Atom interpreter chips were. However, the AtomNano will
include an 18-pin version. This comes at a really good time
because I see many robotic users struggling with large
programs. If you want a full featured Basic compiler and
low cost chip that doesn't need a lot of extra hardware to
program it, then you should look at the AtomNano chips.
As mentioned, the Basic Atom comes in module form.
(In fact, they have Atom modules that are pin for pin
compatible with the BASIC Stamp). At some point though,
you may want to use more than one microcontroller in a
design and paying $50 per module can get expensive. (This
is where the interpreter chips offered at $20 each come in
handy). To some people this was still too expensive, causing
72 SERVO 02.2009
Many years ago, Basic Micro, Inc.,
introduced the Basic Atom modules to
compete with other popular modules.
Basic Micro still offers the Basic Atom
modules and the interpreter chips
they’re based on. Now, they are
introducing the AtomNano which is
similar to the PICAXE and it has many
additional features. I've only seen a
beta version of the chips; they are very
similar to the Atom interpreter chips but
at a lower cost. Let’s take a quick look
at the new AtomNano.
them to opt instead for the lower cost PICAXE chips. This
forced the previous Atom user to learn all the new commands the other system required. The AtomNano was
developed to answer the call for a lower cost chip without
having to leave the Atom development environment. Plus, it
runs faster than 4 Mhz. Basic Micro has maintained the free
download of the Basic Compiler software. All of this should
be available by the time you read this article so look for the
AtomNano at BasicMicro.com.
The reasons why I like these chips and why I recommend
you take a look at them is they offer more program space,
RAM space, and easy access to the internal features of the
PIC they are based on. The AtomNano chips in Figure 1
represent the 16F887 (40-pin) and the 16F886 (28-pin).
The AtomNano chips rely on the internal 8 MHz oscillator
offered in these chips so they will be a little slower than the
Atom modules. Speed can be important when you are trying
to drive servos and read sensors. In other cases though, the
FIGURE 1. The 28-pin and
40-pin AtomNano Chips.