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There sure are alot of uC's out there these days! I had an 8085 class in 1979 and an 8088 class in 1985 or so.


I have a project to repair a miniature electronic instrument whose tiny meter movement died. The meter is viewed optically, kind of like an SLR camera. New ones are out of my economic realm.


So, basically I need to measure a sensor voltage, scale it to proper units and display it (possibly backward) on a digital display.


I can either assume I have some experience long ago or not a have a clue where to start. I looked at Silicon Labs 8051 (F300 family), got a $20 TI '430 USB stick, and remembered hearing good things about PIC's.


I chose one, a 16F688 and a Maxim Charlieplex display interface chip. I chose the 16F688 because, uh, kid in a candy store, I guess. I picked an 8-bit part with about the most memory I could find because I didn't expect my programming to be very efficient. I also hope to add features some day.


I downloaded Either BoostBasic or a package that included it (not installed yet).


I would like to approach this with DIY hardware. It looks like it doesn't need a sophisticated hardware kit. Unfortunately I have been down the path of buying development kits a number of times & not doing a doggone thing with them (68HCx05, Z8000, goodbye, both gone now).


I like what I have read her on this forum so far. Impressive knowledge base, etc.


Obviously, I need to know how to get started with basics. After getting a couple 16F688's, I realized how little info I found on them on forums.


So now I have to figure out how to get started. I think I found MPLAB too, or something like that. Maybe I'll learn C soon. I have a co-worker who knows C and AVR's. He's half-interested in PIC's & already is changing his bias from looking at the '688 data sheet.


I would like to use a basic DIY programming interface like Byron Jeff's or I guess I could spring for a USB interface because it WOULD cut the cable headaches. But I did choose the SOIC (I can solder little stuff)..might need a SOIC-DIP adapter board.


There is alot of basic beginner stuff on the web, even with the 1998 dead links etc. I would rather not go back to a 16?84 & just learn on the platform I chose, unless it's a really weird one I chose for all the wrong reasons.


So, what is the simplest hardware programming interface you recommend?


Is there a feature in BoostBasic that 'plays' with programming, or is there another software stage to look for?


Hopefully some day I will be able to contribute something here.


Thank you.



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  • 1 year later...
  • 1 year later...



I am new to this forum and this is my first post.

I have a PIC16F689 and I am trying to compile the RSA Ansi C library from http://www.di-mgt.com.au/bigdigits.html.

My compiler build fails since it can not find the : "assert.h" file. I looked in the BostSource installation folder and could not find it.

Does anyone knows where can I download additional header files for my PIC?




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  • 4 months later...

Hi Murray,


(So, you can't just drop another meter movement into this broken instrument?)


Like you, my path is littered with microcontrollers learned, used briefly, then forgotten... yes 68HC05, also 8051... I decided to take up PICs a little over 2 years ago, I've stuck with it, and even built a few things. I've invested modestly in some MicroChip dev boards and tools. And I'm reasonably happy with the sourceboost tools and C compiler.


Before going further, there's a bit more to your choice than just a microcontroller... you really are choosing an ecosystem. Are you going to become a microcontroller whiz, or are you just seeking a microcontroller platform to solve some problems, like your instrumentation example? PIC is a good choice because of its popularity, hence many tools and applications already developed and available. Rather than just a part number, perhaps you should seek out a board or prototyping system that is closest to meeting your requirement, to speed up your delivery. AVR is also a good choice, particularly as used in the open-source Arduino platform. Just some stuff to consider.


So, what is the simplest hardware programming interface you recommend?


Hands-down, the PICkit2 or PICkit3 programmers. Either will program your 16F688. I have a PICKit2.They support ICSP programming of just about all the popular PICs, they are USB, great supporting applications, real easy to use. They are available as clones (ebay), but the brand-name MicroChip ones aren't that much to begin with, and MicroChip has a pretty good replacement warranty (not that you'll need it).

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