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Design Services

Wireless applications (Microburst, CDPD, Cellemetry, etc.), Microcontrollers, PC software, PCB CAD, Production Engineering


We take the design process from beginning to end


You know you've achieved perfection, not when you have nothing more to add, but when you have nothing more to take away. - Antoine de Saint-Exupery


Please go down the page for interesting PIC information and the links to the rest of the PICMicro Webring


Current Design projects:

Water tank processor system (marine)
Pump Sav’r system (marine)
Wireless development kit (Microburst, CDPD, GPS)

GPS tracking - CompuTracker
An Emergency Marine Beacon
Dental equipment project -
ProbUS dental probe
A bait well pump system battery power saver for anglers
Marine security alarm system
Serial output position transducer
Several Wireless data applications……..



 

 

 

A Typical product prototype
(after breadboard, before PCB)

 

 

 

 


The excellent PIC Webring!

There are 30 or so other sites in this Webring. Many have the same links, so I will bow to their wider link coverage and not replicate it here again. Please watch this space - as time allows we will expand the PIC area.......

PIC Tips:

When using PIC programmers (or others, come to that) which use the parallel port, make sure that various devices such as scanners and all-in-one printers don't have a background process running which polls the device periodically. If you get errors when programming, wiping, etc. look down your task list in Windows (95, 98 or NT) after a Ctrl-Alt-Del and kill the process by highlighting it and doing an "End Task".


Also, serial ports are often used by such devices as digital cameras and Palm Pilots. I've come across some of my own PC code which quits because Palm Pilot background processes get in the way.


Working with Real-Time clocks and the PIC? The JRC NJU-6355 series is very good and inexpensive. With minimum components you can add RTC functions to your application. The JRC idles on the back-up battery taking about 4uA. By waking up the PIC every now and then, you can decide whether to go into full processing mode based on the time and date in the RTC. It interfaces perfectly with the PIC 16C84 and others with no resistors, etc. required. The accuracy of the RTC running in my applications has been as good as the RTC in my PC (Gateway Solo). The only peculiarity with the JRC is that it uses BCD (two digits per byte), so when you make decisions based on the date or time you have to do a conversion before testing the bytes. The JRC represents the date as two digits (1999 = 99), so you'll have to write support code to allow y2k roll-over (big deal!). You can get the datasheet here.


Try also the Dallas DS1302 RTC. More information shortly!

You can get the datasheet here


Working with A-to-D conversion on a PIC project? Try the LTC1298 from Linear Technology. This makes an impressive, single chip and one resistor converter to go with the PIC with super low power consumption.


Want to switch bigger loads with the PIC? Try the IRF510 from International Rectifier. As it is a HEXFET (power MOSFET), the drive requirement is very low and the PIC is isolated from the load unless the gate oxide is punched through. For safety reasons, always drive the 510 gate through a 1k resistor so that the PIC is protected against breakdown. By the way, the IR site uses a poor search engine and it's difficult to get datasheets in a hurry. When you do get the datasheet it doesn't have a device pin-out! When looking at the top view of the device the pins are Gate on left, Drain in center & Source on right. To make life easy (note the sarcasm) the Tab is the Drain connection, so it has to be isolated when heatsinked.


Interesting links for those of you playing with LCDs:

Link one
Link two

Check out BGMicro in our preferred supplier list for these displays at low, low prices!

Oh, and if you haven't got Adobe Acrobat Reader for some reason, go and get it here.


Programming PIC chips using the PicStic programmer from Micromint

By making your own circuit you can reduce the cost of the RTC module (for example) from $39.95. Please ask for details of our new module board which uses through-hole parts instead of surface mount and allows you to swap parts if you damage a device in testing.

You can use the PicStic programmer to program the PIC16C84 and PIC16F84 by making an adapter as follows:

PicStic Pin

16F84
18 Pin PDIP

16F876
28pin Skinny
PDIP

16F877 40pin
PDIP

Name

Function

2

5

8 & 19

12 & 31

Vss

Ground

5

14

20

11 & 32

Vdd

5V

6

4

1

1

MCLR

Reset

13

12

27

39

RB6

Clock

14

13

28

40

RB7

Data

We recommend the PicStic EPIC programmer because it is well built and robust.

Note: You DO NOT have to have the oscillator running to program the device, so no crystal or caps are required on the adapter board.


 Simple test utilities

These were originally written for the PicStic, but they will work for any of your little projects using a 16C84 or 16F84 processor. I use them to test assembled modules to make sure that the module is built correctly and that all I/O lines are working correctly. These files are in HEX format for loading to your programmer.

Download PICTEST1. This simply cycles the PortB output lines from 0 to 255 and keeps doing it forever. In a test jig made with 8 LEDs you get a visual indication that all lines are working.

Download PICTEST2. This cycles the PortB output PB0 to PB6 lines from 0 to 128 and keeps doing it forever. In a test jig made with 7 LEDs you get a visual indication that all lines are working. Out of PB7 comes the real time clock data at 4800 bps so that you can see that the RTC is running OK.

Download PICTEST3. This cycles the PortB output PB0 to PB6 lines from 0 to 128 and keeps doing it forever. In a test jig made with 7 LEDs you get a visual indication that all lines are working. Out of PB7 comes the A to D converter data at 4800 bps with output alternating between channel 0 and channel 1.

When I get time I will have a circuit diagram here for the simple test board............


Recommended suppliers:
Micromint (the excellent get-you-going PicStic)
MicroEngineering Laboratories (compilers)
Digi-Key for fast service
B.G. Micro for hard to get parts at the lowest prices
Jameco for parts
JDR Micro for parts, etc.
Maxim parts
MX-COM - for modem chips
National Semiconductor - especially for power parts
International Rectifier - for power switching
Chester Electronics - Largo, FL for parts


Links:

These are some that aren't sites in the PICmicro Webring directly that you might otherwise miss
Don Lancaster's page
Spread Spectrum page of PIC applications
TAPR - amateur radio link
EPE - very PIC driven magazine
World's smallest Web server - done with a PIC!


Educational area:

Programming course


In a rut? Chill out with the Dilbert Zone!
Interesting link about Inventors



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