[Coco] OT: Cheap controller chips

Steve Bjork 6809er at srbsoftware.com
Thu Sep 29 15:19:39 EDT 2011

Good Day All,

I know many of you like to build little CPU controlled gadgets and the 
reason for this Off topic post...

This time of year I'm very busy with my Halloween Yard Haunt.  (See 
ScaryLane.com) After building a Ghost Town facade last year, I'm adding 
more than a few micro-controller props including talking skulls, popping 
up ghouls and lighting and thunder storm.

Many of the props are using PICAXE controller because their ease of use 
and how cheap they are.  PICAXE are based on PIC controller (like 
BasicStamp) and uses the BASIC for coding (like BasicStamp).  The PICAXE 
chips start a $3.00, unlike BasicStamp $30.00 stating price.

PICAXE are not new,  but I feel they are a good choice for a 
programmable controller that is easy to work with.  I got up and running 
for less than $25 with a PICAXE 18M2 ($5), PICAXE 18 Pin Power Project 
Board ($12) and a few parts and shipping.  The docs and 
Editor/Programmer are free if you download them from the Internet.  You 
can buy the PC to project board cable (use for programming and 
debugging) or make you own RS-232 to stereo plug.  It took less than 5 
minutes to make the cable out of spare parts.

A good source in the U.S. for PICAXE stuff is SparkFun.com. The have a 
good collection of the PICAXE line at great prices.   PICAXE.com is the 
main source for news, downloads and information on the chips.  They have 
free coding software Windows, OS-X (Mac) and Linux.

Quick note about the PICAXE 18 Pin Power Project Board, don't forget to 
remove the link (R9) that connects the CPU and the Output driver power 
supplies.  This link makes easy to use main +5 Volt of the CPU is 
supplied to the power driver output section.  Putting another power 
supply on the driver circuit will feed into the 5 Volt circuit via the 
R9 link.  (Say bye-bye PICAXE chip.) The warring in board's docs is a 
bit small and easily past over.

The PICAXE line is a cheap and easy way to make those one of a kind 
gadgets with a bit of smarts.

Thanks for reading,


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