Augmenting a microcontroller?

I need help augmenting a microcontroller. I have a bit of a problem. If I may digress, I first bought and assembled fritsl's Start Here 2.0 robot. I even programmed it using some of the sample code and some of my own (limited) BASIC knowledge. Soon enough I had a little robot running around the floor. I even named him Pal and put some LED's in the two mounting screw holes on the distance sensor. After my initial success, I went to the internet to learn more and hit a dead end. I very quickly learned that the augmented microcontroller I had been using (PICAXE028) is just that: an augmented microcontroller. And then I learned that people generally would just build their own augmented microcontroller boards and then pop a new microcontroller (I really like Picaxe) in. So when I went to learn how to augment a microcontroller, I found there is no unified guide to do this. I have basic knowledge & understanding of resistors, capacitors, and transistors, but no concept of how they work together with the microcontroller. And the high and low signals dont make much sense to me at all. I really need help. Also, in the long run, I can go and get the required components and breadboards to do this myself, but since I dont have a car (I am 14) my travel is pretty much dictated by my parents needs. I dont expect to be able to do this right away, but I need to learn some basic knowledge before I can do anything more. All I have on hand are some cylindrical capacitors (25V and 10 V varieties) and 148 assorted resistors. Help?


Augment means to add to, but alas, you have not told us what you want to add.

What is the goal here? What features do you want to add? You could run a second battery pack in parallel and double your run time --This would augment your bot. Paint would too.

What specifically would you like to add to your bot?

Sorry. Double post
Sorry. Double post

I’ll try to help from what I can comprehend

First of all, we are not getting what you mean by augmented. Is it an add on shield/board on top of current one or a complete microcontroller board.
What I can comprehend from your post is that you are talking about a board to replace the Picaxe board you currently own. Something where you can remove your current board from the start here robot and add a new one in to keep the SHR still functional. Is that your requirement?
The picaxe board shipped with the Start Here Robot (SHR) is completely reusable and us sufficient enough to control most basic applications. So there is no requirement to build a new board from the Pic chip for a new robot; just remove the wiring from your older one and build as you would otherwise. If you want to make the SHR come back to life just reconnect the wiring, rewrite the code and you’re good to go. SHR kit is supplied with the intention that you make it, understand the concepts of how to make it, take it all apart and make something else.
As for making a new board from scratch, I have seen quite a few guys do it with the Atmega328pu chip which comes with the Arduino Uno. I haven’t seen any Picaxe boards on breadboard or from scratch yet. I’ll post the link if you’re interested (and when I get back on my laptop).

Sorry for the misunderstanding.

Im sorry I think that I have been unclear. What I want to do is buy the bare processor from Picaxe, put it on a bread board and build  a board around it. I have read on the internet that generally, instead of buying a new board (like the Picaxe028 I have) you would buy the long black processor from Picaxe and mount it on a breadboard, and then you would make all the connections and build your own. I figure that since it is not cost effective to purchase a new microcontroller board (~80) every time, this is probably the way to go.

As you are asking about 2 different things,

let us cover them one at a time.

Learning to work with electronic components: Check this page out and get back to us.

Building a breadboard PICAXE: I would suggest you follow vishu’s suggestion and make use of the board you already have. PICAXE manual 3 shows how to connect different components to the pins. Maybe you should spend some time learning how to do that rather than buying another PICAXE chip. You will easily spend $10 to $15 on the various electronic components that will help you learn.

**As much as I like the PICAXE chips, the cost for what you get is just crazy. I can buy an Arduino Pro Mini, and, a USB-TTL board for $10 from eBay. Yes, it is a different language. Yes, there is more to hook up. Look at it this way, it is a learning experience. :slight_smile: I personally have PICs, PICAXEs, a Propeller, and, some arduinos.

So, it looks like I understood you correctly…

NOTE- None of this is Beginner Level. It requires you to have at least good knowledge of what you are doing and knowledge of the Chip and 

As said above, I haven’t seen any Picaxe on Breadboard. I have seen some now. Thanks to OddBot for posting. The reason behind it (as suggested by Birdmun) is that the Picaxe chips are costlier (as the guys at Picaxe have a closed source bootloader; not sure about this). It is programmable in Basic.

On the other hand, the Arduino is a more open source platform. The chip (ATMega 8 or ATMega 168 or ATMega 328) comes as cheap as $2.5 on eBay and an Arduino UNO clone can come as cheap as $15 on eBay. Once you have both, you can test your robot with the Arduino board and then when the software is ready, boot and program your ATMega using this tip or this tip (more complex) and this diagram (which is common for all 3 chips, the 8, the 168 and the 328).

Here are the tutorial links I hoped to post above-

The downside of all of this is that you have to learn how to program in C and more specifically, Arduino C. It has a bit of a learning curve but everyone does it sometime or the other.