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Rhathid

CamMan AP Project

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Hello,

I've read over the whole project. I was wondering if anybody had streamlined the process for making a AP system?

Surfing through the links to put the project together is a bit of a task.

Does anybody have a one-stop site for isntructions on this? After some searching I found a number of PIC programmers.

What's the best PIC programmer and where is the best place to buy a PIC? From what I've found most sites require quantity purchases.

Which brings me to my next question, is there anybody who made a bunch of these that is selling them?

I've decided that if I need to buy a PIC programmer ($35-99) and bulk electronic supplies, it would make sense to product a large number of these switches to recoop my costs.

In short, is there any extremely basic, go here buy this, go there buy that, and follow these directions approach?

All I want is a AP camera with switch. I've emailed a couple places that have them, but I'm not sure if they are still making them as I haven't heard anything. I've found some switches, but I'm looking for entry level with the PenCam or 1.3.

Thanks,

Rhathid

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... it would make sense to product a large number of these switches to recoop my costs.

That would violate the terms of the RC-CAM software distribution. You can use the hex files for personal use. You cannot programmed parts for others.

Basically, it is one stop shopping. Parts for the CamMan Project can all be bought from Digi-Key. The details are in the CamMan project's web page. Or, you can get the parts from Mouser or Radio Shack's internet site (if you use these sources then you'll have to determine the part numbers on your own).

A PIC programmer's hardware can be built for under $10 and the programming app software can be found for free. If you have any junk box engineering parts then it could be done for nothing. There are many sites that post plans for these cheap PIC programmers. I believe some example links are in the RC-CAM Links forum.

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That's right, I did read that.

There's just too much information, I'm overloaded. All I want to do is make a switch. haha

In the last hour I've read about flight telemetry, unmanned vehicals for the military, and I've looked at about 20 different websites. I just need a list of what parts to buy, I know there are cheap chip programmers but which one do I want? I was just looking at one called the "el cheapo", will that work?! I would imagine.

I do program, software programming, not IC programming. So I understand the logic.

This is a whole new world to me.

So I can order enough parts to build a couple switches, and any PIC programmer will do? No minimum order, nada? These Q&A's might benefit somebody else in my shoes.

I haven't worked with circuits since DC analysis 8 years ago.

Also, what's a good basic book I can get with information on programming PIC's? Any recommendations?

Thanks,

Rhathid

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I just need a list of what parts to buy, ...

All the CamMan parts are listed in the project web page. Complete with Digi-Key part numbers.

I was just looking at one called the "el cheapo", will that work?!

I hear it works just fine.

So I can order enough parts to build a couple switches, and any PIC programmer will do? No minimum order, nada?

Digi-Key does not have a minimum order, but will charge a $5 handling fee if you spend less than $25 in your order. But, if you mail the order in, with a check, they give free shipping (and that would cover the handling fee).

Regarding small orders; it would be a good idea to look at the other RC-CAM projects. Maybe you will see something else that compels you to order more parts. For sure, order a couple extra PICs in case you run into trouble.

What's a good basic book I can get with information on programming PIC's?

The microchip.com web site has all the data sheets, sample S/W applications, and interesting white papers. It's all free. The RC-CAM links discussion area has some good links to good info too. Again, all free.

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This is the devil.

I'm going to order plenty of stuff and tinker around. I've found a lot of books online, I'm going through them now. I see a lot of stuff by microchip.

I've found books about programming IC's, but that's not the same is it? PIC's are specific to microchip as a small fraction of the cost way to do what their big brothers do isn't it? I'm trying to absorb this rapidly without having to learn the entire process.

I also spread myself too thin. I have a career in IT involving everything from consulting, sales consulting, to programming, and at the other end of the spectrum I own a business and love hitting the gym. There's not enough time in the day for me. I vote to make the "go-pill" legal and available to the public.

My dad worked for Edison, so he had me building basic circuits and what not when I was 6. The IC's aren't really something he worked with. He took a stab at basic programming in 82 or 83 I think, whenever the TI-99 came out.

From what I am reading, you can code in basic to program an IC or PIC? I definitely don't have the time to learn binary or hex.

Come to think of it, this could be the perfect piece for my entrprenurial spirit, combining technology with computers. In theory I could take what I could learn in this field and start integrating common technology with computers couldn't I? For instance, I could (in theory) take anything eletronic and connect it to my computer and write a program to interface it eh? I already integrate software with dis-similiar software applications and databases, this would be the hardware to software version of that eh?

Or am I getting IC's and PIC's confused?

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PIC's are IC's. Specifically, they are microcontrollers. Microcontrollers are microprocessors with intergrated memory, I/O, and other useful hardware features.

The software is stored in them using a special aparatus called a chip programmer (burner). Some PIC's are one time programmable, others can be programmed hundreds of times. It depends on the part number. This programming step takes less than a minute. It nearly always uses a PC as the host to control the programmer.

PIC's are not the only microcontrollers out there. Other silicon vendors have their own offerings. Perhaps as popular as PIC's is the product line from ATMEL. There is also Motoroal, Zilog, Ubicon, and dozens of others. They do not run the same code.

You can program in a higher level language. In the PIC camp, BASIC and C compilers are available. Price ranges from free to a few hundred dollars. When these high-hevel language programs are compiled, the result is a special text file that contains the native machine code in a format called hex (developed by Intel a million years ago). The programmer reads the hex file, then stores it in the microcontroller in its non-volatile memory.

PIC's and other microcontrollers are very hardware sort of doo-dads. Using them means that you must deal with software and hardware design. Both disciplines are important.

Rather than look for a book specific to PIC's, it might be a good idea to look for something that discusses microcontrollers (not microprocessors). That will give you a more rounded view of what they are.

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That was a good post.

I think I have a pretty good grasp on it now. I've known what you can do, but I wasn't sure if PIC's were something in of their own, putting them into the microcontroller category makes sense with me now.

I could use these to interface motors or servo's with a computer system. I could also use them to send a video signal from a camera into a computer / CPU to process the video. (Of course this would be pretty complex).

For instance, I could write a program to run on a Pocket PC or a Palm, create a hardware interface between my circuits and the CPU. If for instance this was connected to a video camera and servo's, I could write a program to recognize various hue's, lines, and shapes.

Let's say the program recognizes the contrast and hues of the skyline, I could then use my software in conjunction with the hardware to level a plane with the horizon. I could also write my program to recognize shapes, such as buildings or trees and control the servo's to fly around them as a sort of collision avoidance.

Of course, 90% of this would be handled by my software program, and the PIC would be the hardware interface.

To do something more basic, I could take light sensors and write basic code into the PIC that would make sure the belly of the plane was always pointing toward the ground, auto-pilot if you will. The ground would be darker unless it was snow covered, so I'm willing to bet you could program a PIC to measure the output from the sensors to accomplish this eh? It would probably take a number of sensors though, some to look at the hue and brightness horizontally and vertically, that way the plane isn't constantly overcorrecting itself. Then I could also hook the auto-pilot into an available channel on my receiver to either turn it on or off. It would be a pain flying a plane it autopilot was always trying to correct your control inputs.

If I wanted to get really complicated I could reverse engineer a GPS system and use PIC's to inteface with with my PocketPC. Through the use of software, hardware, and the integrated interface I could in theory program GPS points into my software and my RC plane could fly without human control.

I'm pretty good at programing. I've thought about these things before but I never looked into how I would interface a computer with hardware. I've looked at doing very basic things to interface a laptop with a muscle car for performance tuning, but it didn't need any IC's programmed because it would just be sending pulses to my com ports.

This sounds fun to me. :) If I get advanced, I have no problem shoving my PocketPC into the plane and seeing what I can make it do with software.

Too bad I like coding in Java over C, guess I'll have to dive into C a little more, it is more widely used anyway. Am I on the right track?

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Start your custom programming efforts by using a PIC to blink an LED. Accomplishing that will help demonstrate the basics to using a microcontroller. Then go from there.

Edited by Mr.RC-Cam

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Good idea. :) I think one of my first projects will be getting those hi-intensity LEDs, red and blue, to flash like police lights. That would make a cool police plane.

I'm heading to bed, I was downloading some PDF's and I happened to see one for interfacing GPS with microcontrollers.

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