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Pic programming

Discussion in 'Design and technology' started by misspixie9, Apr 28, 2012.

  1. Other than Logicator, all the programmes I use run in C, rather than flowcharting.
    I talked to my other half (an electronic engineer - he works with PICs regularly), and he offered some suggestions for C based options that are free to run, if that's any use? You'd need something like a PICstart (like this http://www.maplin.co.uk/k8048-pic-microcontroller-programmer-kit-37192) or similar.
    Depending on the PICs you use, something like the Arduino set up might work for you - it's also similar to C, but is a little simpler, depening on how you use it.
    If anyone knows of other flowcharting software though, that would be brilliant to hear about!
     
  2. bigpedro

    bigpedro New commenter

    hence the problem...
    make it for education... whack a price on it.
    Is there a way to convert the logicator flowchart ?? e.g. output as basic and convert? (probably be a pain in the @ss tho)
    on the other hand, I could write the program they need, program the chips for the circuit and the kids could simply simulate it on logicator as an exercise.
    hmmmm, maybe problem solved
     
  3. Price premiums for "educational" products are one of those things that really annoy me!
    I did stumble across a programme similar to logicator - "Flowcode". It works as a flowchart again, but I haven't tried exporting from it, and I don't know if it would work with the outputs for the Picaxe set up to transfer though... Might be worth a go though?
     
  4. I work with several schools on engineering/electronics courses. The choices you make should be based, naturally enough, upon what your aims are for this work and the ability profile of the students you are working with.
    One thing I will say is that cost can be a deceptive parameter. I know of schools that have insisted on spending as little as possible and they have ended up compromising what they hoped to do, experiencing technical glitches and finding no product support available, or ending up spending more money than if it was costed properly from the start. To cost it you need to consider a programming medium that has a licence to use it across a school site, you need to cost in all the other materials that you use including PIC chips, circuit boards and model making materials.
    A big question is what language to use as the medium. If you are trying to develop systems programmers then using 'C' or Visual Basic could be OK, except that the skills needed make these unproductive languages compare to higher level approaches like flowchart programming. The test of this is how much functionality pupils can build during one lesson. With flowchart languages pupils could complete simple missions. Many pupils using a low level language could spend most of the time debugging it.
    The PICaxe system is probably one of the most popular and cost-effective system that I have seen used in schools. It comes with Logicator which you can download as a free version from http://www.picaxe.com/Software/PICAXE/Logicator-for-PICAXE/
    A site licence is I think £200 which includes staff and students use at home and you can bulk purchase PICaxe chips for not a lot more than unprogrammed chips.
    To answer a question asked here, Logicator has a function to convert the flowchart into Basic, so you can list and print real computer code, only pupils haven't had to write it and struggle with syntax errors.
    I havent seen Flowcode before but it looks good.
    Good luck with your choices.
    This is a hugely important area of the school curriculum and it is a big shame that it has been run down by government over several years.
     
  5. bigpedro

    bigpedro New commenter

    really???? from where????
    I'd love to use PICaxe with the y8 kids but its not going to be cost effective just to flash a couple of lights in sequence. (a sequence which can't be achieved easily with logic and 4017Bs before anyone suggests this)
    As I said, i'm not worried about programming the chips en-mass with a standard program in 'C' or otherwise (or getting the technician to do it) and just letting the students simulate the program on a modelled example. Perhaps using picaxe for these to give them a feel for it.
    It would be ideal but wouldn't be cost effective for each pupil to produce a picaxe board and be able to experiment as the GCSE classes do. But with the cost of the circuit approaching £1.50 before its even in some kind of casing is a little steep.
     
  6. Any school can order direct from Revolution Education and hence make use of their 'full tube' educational supported pricing structure. For instance a tube of 60 PICAXE-08M2 chips is £51.00, equating to 0.85 per chip.Or make use of our very popular 'PICAXE + PCB' for 99p offer, now in it's tenth consequative year and taught to tens of thousands of UK students every year!
    www.picaxe.com/teaching
    You are missing a big point here, in that the PICAXE system allows the students to be creative and develop their own control program - testing, debugging and improving their flowchart/program whilst learning simple programming techniques. If you simply 'give out' a mass produced preprogrammed PIC you actually completely eliminate the main purpose of a PIC based project - to allow students to experience true 'systems and control'.
    All PICAXE chips are supplied ready for the student to use in their projects, Say you have 300 students in a year group - for a fair comparison with blank PICs you then need to cost up the pure 'labour time cost' for a technician to program those raw chips. At the average technician wage you will still be talking at least 10-15p per chip....not to mention the boredom factor whilst that hard-worked technician could be doing something far more productive in the department!

     
  7. bigpedro

    bigpedro New commenter

    Perfect - can't find it on the website for the price mentioned though. could I have a full url?
    I assure you i'm not missing the point at all!
    I love Picaxe and i've used it for the last decade with my GCSE groups, its a great system and allows as you say real-life development of solutions.
    it's just the cost that's been holding me back with ks3.
    BP
     
  8. Please click the 'Educational Pricelist' link that is in the footer on every page at picaxe.com
    Or the direct link which is
    http://www.picaxe.com/Teaching/Educational-Pricelist
    The Project kits themselves are here:
    http://www.picaxe.com/Hardware/Project-Kits/
     
  9. bigpedro

    bigpedro New commenter

    problem solved!
    brilliant! cheers.
     
  10. Any views on using Genie instead of Picaxe? For and against and why would be very useful for us new to Electronics.
     
  11. bigpedro

    bigpedro New commenter

    can't say i've tried it (avoided it because we were killing the subject off). But might have a look now that its back on the agenda.
     
  12. Get a real PIC from microchip like the PIC12F508 (8pin) or PIC16F505 (14pin) for just over 50 cents and use the PicoFlow Alpha software from PicoKit.
    Much cheaper in the long run - and you can program a real microchip, in flowchart, assembly, or C.
     
  13. seismic

    seismic New commenter

    Bit late after the original posts but addressing dandolf. I have picaxe and genie on the go. Picaxe flowchart is okay until they get big. Then it gets awkward and some flowchart cells don't link to the next one, difficult to fault find student work. Basic is very easy in picaxe.

    Genie links to work done in cct wizard. Circuit diagram, flowchart, pcb all linked. Certain basic commands are hard to find or not available. Between the two, genie and cct wiz for my vote. If you are just programming and not developing circuit boards then pic logicator would be fine. Better looking flowchart.
     

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