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Small Update

Posted by blewisjr, 08 March 2013 · 392 views

Hey GDNet

This is just a quick update on where things stand.

First sorry for not posting more PIC journal entries. There are two main reasons for this.
The first reason was after working my way through a majority of the tutorials I feel PIC is not quite the right micro controller for me. It is a great micro controller don't get me wrong and I would not hesitate to use it in a personal project but there are a few issues that led me to this decision. The first issue is the development tools. They are rather bad. The MPLABX IDE is based off NetBeans. This is not an issue but their plugins are rather buggy. The first issue with the IDE is getting it to actually interface with the MCU without getting yelled at like in my first HelloWorld Post. The next issue is the in circuit debugger ugh. When having issues and trying to debug the application half the time the debugger just did not work!!!! There is also no options or functions to power the device without programming it. This is rather icky because if you want to run the application you already burned into the chip you need to reburn the program or actually use external power. I don't like this because the nature of flash memory on MCU's is that you only can burn the chip so many times before it dies. Next is the state of quality compilers for C. Without a doubt I want to use C to program these after learning to understand the architecture through assembly. The issue with PIC is the compilers are not free. XC8 which is the 8 bit compiler is $500 which is not bad by embedded compiler standards, however, it is only for 8 bit if you want 16 bit and 32 bit they are $500 each as well. Quite pricy. There are free versions of the compiler available but the optimization is horrible often generating hex files double the size of just using raw assembler. So this means if you want to fit a slightly more complex application written for PIC in the 14 kb of flash you have you need to A. Meticulously code your c to try and force the compiler to generate halfway decent assembler and to then inline ASM code to shave bytes just to get the size reasonable to fit on the chip; or B. Dump the hard cash and get a proper compiler that does it's job.

So I decided to switch to AVR chips. I picked up and Arduino pack today. The benefits of this are you get a fully optimized C compiler based off of GCC for free which can not only program Arduino with it's custom api but can also code for raw AVR chips later down the road. You can also use these tools to code Assembly for both Arduino dev boards and raw AVR chips. Secondly you have 2 IDE's both free the first is the Arduino IDE but there is also AVR Studio 6 which is also free and built using Microsoft's Visual Studio system to make your own IDE's. So you get the full benefits of Visual Studio 2010 plugins and all for Atmel AVR and ARM chips. This is a win win. Solid development tools all around with no restrictions on your capabilities.

The second reason I have not been posting is that I am in the process of setting up an external blog. I have not really been doing game development for quite a long time. I feel really out of place posting this Micro Electronics stuff here and I feel many people won't read or just don't have the interest in it. So I will be moving on and getting my own blog going for my new hobby of interest and hopefully build a little bit of a following.

That is all for now quite busy I need to get in contact with my hosting provider for verification stuff. See you on the flip side.




I dunno, BenRyves and others posting electronics stuff got plenty of attention it seemed

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