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Author Topic: Picaxe Firmware  (Read 26035 times)
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GerryLau
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« on: March 11, 2012, 02:05:38 14:05 »

Dear all,
as a little contribution to a great board, and as a special "Thanks" to "Metal" for his invitation ....

You ever heard about PICAXE chips? Normal PIC micros with a BasicStamp alike Basic-interpreter firmware inside? For more infos just have a look at http://www.picaxe.com/ ...


GerryLau
« Last Edit: June 19, 2012, 01:05:30 01:05 by GerryLau » Logged
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« Reply #1 on: March 11, 2012, 03:54:56 15:54 »

Am I right that the firmware of picaxe actually only a kind of bootloader? While basicstamp firmware is a kind of basic interpreter?

Do you have the source code of it? I am interested because I currently working on scripting language on a pic - closer to the basicstamp I think.

-ichan
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« Reply #2 on: March 11, 2012, 04:57:03 16:57 »

I think picaxe is similar to stamp/basicstamp, its not just a bootloader,it loads token file, have a look at the samples in proteus.
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« Reply #3 on: March 11, 2012, 06:18:56 18:18 »

On 12f683 where is the program / token stored?

On the M2 Product brief it is stated that the M2 memory capacity is 2048 bytes / 1080 lines, while the f683 itself has 2048 words flash memory - half of the flash is used for program store, but doesn't the 12f pic can not write it's own flash memory?

Amazing how they (both picaxe and stamp) squeeze it all into such a small code.

-ichan.
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sadman
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« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2012, 12:15:53 12:15 »

Simply speaking, the "Picaxe" system is a better BasicStamp clone. The firmware contains bootloader as well as a Pbasic alike basic interpreter, similar to the BasicStamp, but in many details better than the original stamp ....

For further info, just go to their  homepage ....

GerryLau

i confirm picaxe is better then basic stamp as i made clone for basic stamp today i made clone for 18x remarkable result speed is great many thanks GerryLau

regards
sadman
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« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2012, 08:42:46 20:42 »

Gerry - i think you missed Ichan's last question, which interests myself, and likely others, since it may allow us to port to other devices or add features....do you have the source code?
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« Reply #6 on: March 17, 2012, 01:50:59 01:50 »

Yeah, great. I love how the comments and address labels pop up when you "just" do that. Have too many projects, and not enough years left, to just play with one for two years if someone has commented SRC code. Would have been fun to port it to a dsPIC, for instance.

Oh well, I asked, you don't have, no worries...a great post, ANYWAY.
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« Reply #7 on: March 17, 2012, 02:58:35 02:58 »

Googling around i've found out this one. Could be useful for educational purpose.
Not tested vet, by myself i mean....

http://turbobit.net/vl57rfitrfyb/Logicator.for.PICAXE.v3.6.0.Incl.Keygen-NGEN.zip.html

http://extabit.com/file/2fhoyroio6pxr/Logicator.for.PICAXE.v3.6.0.Incl.Keygen-NGEN.zip

http://rapidshare.com/files/3525377405/Logicator.for.PICAXE.v3.6.0.Incl.Keygen-NGEN.zip

http://ul.to/8nlg86zo/Logicator.for.PICAXE.v3.6.0.Incl.Keygen-NGEN.zip
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« Reply #8 on: March 17, 2012, 07:14:22 07:14 »

Hi Sadman,

sorry, due to whatever, I couldn't download your BS file, so I couldn't test (maybe you can upload it to www.depositfiles.com?). But I have some original BS chips here available .... and I can confirm, you are right .... Picaxe, even the elder 8m or 18x is far better than the BS .... in terms of speed, in terms of implemented commands.

And there is another big advantage. The Picaxe chips just run as single chip solution. 4 and 8 MHZ with internal RC, no other external components (besides 2 resistors) needed to run this chips and programm them from your PC ....

Also a BS contains a "few" more parts, external resonator, external 24c flash memory,MAX levelshifter and a few more .... much more complex than a simple Picaxe ....

Picaxe, just build up the download interface with 2 resistors, connect it to your RS232, run the free programming IDE on your PC (which includes also the token compiler and the downloader) and have fun ....

regards

GerryLau


only for GerryLau upload of DIY basic stamp also contain source code but they are in assembly

regards
sadman
« Last Edit: March 17, 2012, 07:17:33 07:17 by sadman » Logged
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« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2012, 08:28:18 08:28 »

For anyone who is interested with basic interpreter on a microcontroller can start from here http://www.sics.se/~adam/ubasic/ - it's in C but the basic program hard coded in program area. Very good starting point, and then you may find that BS and Picaxe is.. yep a masterpice of work.

-ichan.
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« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2012, 09:59:25 09:59 »

Hi Solutions,

yeah, "undocumented" code can be a pain in the ass. But on the other side, we don't talk about 5MB code ...
2 KB codesize seems to be managable ....  Tongue

Seriousely, such a firmware is the "funds" of the owning company. They normally keep such things as "top secret". That's also why the code-protection lock fuse is set within such chips. So, normally, you have no way to get even such a hex-file, the owner won't provide, and you can't even just read out a chip ....

Honestly, where I live, I just "give away" an original chip, and normally 2 days later I get the hex-file of what was flashed inside. Surely no source, but great for cheap reproduction ....

Anyway, the elder Picaxe chips I know the underlaying PIC model. All the new X2 parts are nolonger labeled with its PIC name, but with its Picaxe name (but they are still new PIC core models). I have most X2 parts here, but I don't know its underlaying PIC chip. If somebody can find out which X2 is which PIC, that would be a great help, and a good start for some new hex-files ...  Cool

regards

GerryLau

Hello GerryLau.

You can see the detail in
http://www.picaxe.com/docs/picaxex2.pdf
and
http://www.picaxe.com/What-is-PICAXE/PICAXE-Chip-Labels/
and
http://www.picaxe.com/What-is-PICAXE/Superseded-Parts/
« Last Edit: March 17, 2012, 10:02:04 10:02 by orange » Logged
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« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2012, 04:04:35 16:04 »

Hi GerryLau

Can you please reupload the firmware files? The original link is dead.

Cheers!
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« Reply #12 on: April 18, 2012, 09:25:43 21:25 »

Just for information, the file size is 41K for a pic 12F683, there is not a problem?

thank you
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« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2012, 09:30:48 09:30 »

I might just have to give one of these a try just for the heck of it, now...  I like my pic chips and just could never bring myself to paying more for the same chip just so I could use their IDE software as I'm plenty proficient with other compilers...
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« Reply #14 on: May 23, 2012, 12:04:03 12:04 »

I have tried the 18x (or 16f88). Pickit complains that the hex is too large (and indeed it is if you look at the hex addresses) BUT IT WORKS!
It seems that the original device was read to 16k but the device was only 8k and the rest of the device appeared blank.
Just ignore the error and burn into your chip.
If you are using a PROLIFIC usb-serial adapter then make sure you use the drivers from PICAXE's site as the later ones give problems.
A big thumbs-up to GerryLau for providing this. Thanks!
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« Reply #15 on: June 09, 2012, 06:35:16 06:35 »

Gerrylau i have uploaded some thing for you here

http://www.sonsivri.to/forum/index.php?topic=3545.msg133120#msg133120

regards
sadman
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« Reply #16 on: June 16, 2012, 06:13:11 18:13 »

Hello Smiley

Could some1 reupload the firmware files ?

many thanks Smiley
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« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2012, 12:22:31 12:22 »

Hi GerryLau,
At only 13Kb is there any problem attaching it here?
I will delete this if asked by Admin.....
Code removed as requested by 'picaxe'
Fair comment...
« Last Edit: June 18, 2012, 05:00:29 17:00 by andybiker » Logged
PICAXE
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« Reply #18 on: June 18, 2012, 03:24:32 15:24 »

Clive Seager, developer of the PICAXE system. You can see my CV at my invitation request, and thanks to Ichan for the invitation.
http://www.sonsivri.to/forum/index.php?topic=45505.0

This (lengthy) post is not to advertise or to talk about cracking/code protection. Anyone knows it is possible to crack or break any system, some easily, some with a bit more effort. With Microchip PIC’s code protection it is not actually that hard. Just Google or find the right person. What I do want to explain is the educational ethos of PICAXE instead.

The PICAXE system is unique in that it was never intended for the users of this Sonsivri forum. It was designed for 13 years olds in the school classroom. Rather than an expensive software compiler (e.g. Swordfish or PICBasic ) or a relatively expensive ‘module’ (like a BASIC Stamp or Arduino) the idea is that students in schools can learn about electronics at a very low cost by simply taking a microcontroller chip and placing it in a circuit, ideally one they solder together themselves. That way we actively encourage and create the electronic engineers of the future.

...  I like my pic chips and just could never bring myself to paying more for the same chip just so I could use their IDE software as I'm plenty proficient with other compilers...

The PICAXE system is not for you. We’ve never made any secret of that, why use the PICAXE system when you already have more advanced skills? PICAXE is for beginners, those who don’t have any PIC programmers or technical knowledge such as what a configuration fuse is. Education never ends, so I am delighted that we also have both 8 and 80 year old users and can get them easily started in the world of microcontrollers. Once they outgrow the PICAXE many do then move on to other systems. Or become engineers, which is what we want:
http://www.picaxe.com/Teaching/Inspiring-Engineers-of-the-Future/

Our most popular product, the one of which I am most proud of (as it has introduced hundreds of thousands of school students to their very first microcontroller project) is a ‘PICAXE chip and PCB’ for 99p (about US$1.20) We have maintained this same price for over ten years, simply because if the price wasn’t this low, schools couldn’t afford to do the projects with their students. When you take into UK duties, warehousing and staff costs this product actually make no profit at all. Yet it is our best seller! http://www.picaxe.com/Teaching/PICAXE-in-Education/

Hence I’m not overly bothered about a public domain hex file not generating a few pence/cents ‘royalty’ on a preprogrammed PICAXE chip, everybody knows a companies profit are in dev kits/modules, not on individual chips. Hence the reason that Arduino and BASIC Stamp are far more profitable than PICAXE. In fact for the 08M we already give these hex files away completely free to educational development partners in India and South America. The hex file extracted from a code protected chip is still copyrighted, and hence any unauthorised use is still taking without permission, but that is not the main issue. The main issue we have is with providing our award winning educational support to a modified chip.

First some technical background:

On 12f683 where is the program / token stored?... but doesn't the 12f pic can not write it's own flash memory?...
a 12F683 can ...

No it can’t. That is exactly why the PICAXE firmware works the way it does. Ten years ago no 8 pin PIC chip could re-write its own program memory without an external programming circuit like a PIC Kit. So the PICAXE firmware is preprogrammed into the program memory area and the compiled ‘lookup table’ of the user’s BASIC is programmed into the 2048 bits of data memory. So a PICAXE 08M ‘new download’ only programs the data memory, not the program memory. Incidentally my use of bit not byte is deliberate.

So the PICAXE compiler does not generate hex, it generates a lookup table that interacts with the preprogrammed firmware. And the firmware in intensively optimised to fit in the space available, layer upon layer of hand crafted assembly optimisation to get it to fit in the very limited space available in those early small memory PIC devices. C was never an option, it’s way too bulky for a 1024 or 2048 word device.

Which leads me to the main reasons we don’t release the source of the firmware:
1)   It is intensively optimised hand crafted assembler. Unless you are a very experienced assembler program it will mean nothing to you, and even if you are it will take a very long time to understand all the optimisations. It even takes me a very long time to rework some items!
2)   The compiler interacts extensively with the firmware, for instance by poking bits of specific registers. You can’t simply take the PIC source and expect it to work on a different PIC. You would also need to make extensive modifications to the compiler as well.
3)   We don’t want inferior non-fully working clones in the educational market

Would have been fun to port it to a dsPIC, for instance.

As point 2 above, that simply won’t work. Microchip have this annoying habit of moving bits in registers (even ones that have the same name), which would instantly break the compiler/firmware interaction when you move to a different part. To do this you would also have to rewrite the entire compiler, not just modify the firmware. Remember with PICAXE we are not talking about a BASIC>assembler/hex based system at all.

So here is the educational problem – and our main market is schools, not hobbyists. We cannot possibly provide our award winning, free, technical support to hacked hex files. Somebody takes the 12F683 file and modifies it to partly work on a 12F675, purely because it is a few cents cheaper.  Trouble is then half the functions won’t work as expected. Somebody else does something else on a different chip, and eventually you end up with a situation where no one company can ever provide proper detailed support to every possible variation and clone.

Later this year we will be releasing version 6 of our PICAXE software, which will already convert an entire PICAXE BASIC program to visible raw assembler code. And that code is specifically written to be user readable – with our educational ethos of encouraging the engineers of the future.

Or in other words anyone can download a completely free advanced PICAXE BASIC to assembler compiler.  This will enable anyone, without any cost, to download our IDE and generate a raw assembler language equivalent of their PICAXE program to use with a PIC Kit2 or similar programmer on the PIC of your choice. We have a limited version of this function already in our software, but the new version will be far better and much more powerful, supporting every PICAXE command (where technically possible). So even if you don’t have a PICAXE chip (or any other PICAXE product) you can still use our BASIC language, for free, on almost any PIC chip.

So my request is simple, if you want to use a free BASIC system on any PIC chip, simply wait for our free software update later this year. Don’t go hacking the firmware files of the existing PICAXE chips, you will just dilute a product to the point where it is no longer supportable. And that would be a real, real problem for the schools and educational market we work in.

I’ll try to answer honestly any comments, but to pre-empt any questions that may arise:
1)   Revolution is a small company, two full time employees and several part time staff for support/admin/warehouse. Yes, of course any loss of income also really hurts us, but sales of chips themselves are not the main income.
2)   I personally take a salary of about 50% of what I would earn as a high-level microcontroller engineer in a UK company. But I do this because I love it. The PICAXE system makes a real difference to the teaching of electronics in schools in a large number of countries.
3)   Are the hex files accurate. Yes, of course, seeing so they have just been read out of a production chip. They are however not the latest release for that chip.
4)   Will we now consider putting these hex file on our website, yes. But first we need to build a proper structure to support questions about use of, for instance, PIC Kit2. Will we get them removed from depositfiles etc - yes as well. And of course attaching to a message in this forum is also a clear violation of this forum rules – read the footer on any page…

Clive Seager
18 June 2012


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CocaCola
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« Reply #19 on: June 18, 2012, 06:00:24 18:00 »

The PICAXE system is not for you. We’ve never made any secret of that, why use the PICAXE system when you already have more advanced skills?

Because as you keep pointing out it's about education, I like to further my knowledge of what is out there even if it's below my 'professional' everyday use level...  Same with systems like the Arduino, I personally cringe at them, as they are bloated developer boards for 90% of the applications I see people use them for, the fandom and hype around them annoys me to no end, but regardless I do own one and have played around with it to gain an understanding of what it is and how it works...

If you were to release the firmware I would likely jump on the opportunity to play with it 'officially', call me petty cheap, but as I said I have a hard time purchasing just a chip with a bootloader, just to goof off even if it's very affordable, and it is very affordable but that isn't the point...

I will say you have done a great job on 'dumbing' down the entire micro experience for the newbie and providing an easy entry level system without the hardware bloat that comes with systems like the Arduino, in that respect I 'high five' your approach...
« Last Edit: June 19, 2012, 10:24:33 22:24 by CocaCola » Logged
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« Reply #20 on: June 19, 2012, 10:02:23 22:02 »

Hi GerryLau,
At only 13Kb is there any problem attaching it here?
I will delete this if asked by Admin.....
Code removed as requested by 'picaxe'
Fair comment...

This would have been deleted and earned a mute, if it had been picked up sooner, Any post with Illegal content is not allowed.
WE DONT HOST ANY ILLEGAL FILES ON THE SERVER
USE CONTACT US TO REPORT ILLEGAL FILES
Users must use the Report to moderator link in every post
not doing so, just adds to workload for the mods

Posted on: June 19, 2012, 09:36:28 21:36 - Automerged

As to PICAXE be coming a cloned item, I don't think that will happen, but if the hex files of the two PICAXE chips posted here, was placed on http://www.picaxe.com even without support, would bring custom to PICAXE

Users here will I believe, would only build one sample, who would want to program a microchip project via a bootloader, when most here use PDS, or a Mikroelektronika product for pic micros.

There is even quite a few that have bought into the tools they have used from here, myself included, being able to use something without limits, then getting funding from workplace, put money into Mikroelektronika. for software and dev boards,Chrownhill, but not so far for proteus, could not convince works buyer to fund, project.
 
And No, I have not even tried to build a PICAXE, way too many other thing to do, before locking upworkshop and going for a few beers.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2012, 10:23:58 22:23 by pickit2 » Logged

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« Reply #21 on: June 19, 2012, 11:00:06 23:00 »

Simple Rule: If its a Link to any file hosted offsite, then it's allowed, it is not judged as legal or illegal.
If it's a patch or edited file to bypass copy protection then it judged as illegal, and not allowed on site.
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« Reply #22 on: February 04, 2013, 12:26:18 12:26 »

@ Picaxe

Hi Clive I cut my teath playing with basic stamp, then atom, then picaxe, then onto real industrial rather than educational compilers, so I'd like to say thank you for having that product which was the perfect stepping stone for me and the new development sounds really exciting. PS I use your picaxe 40 prototype boards for my lab work and will be buying a solder bath to use use your excellent boards as the motherboard in my product designs.
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« Reply #23 on: February 04, 2013, 12:33:32 12:33 »

the user is gone, you are talking to yourself, indeed..
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« Reply #24 on: February 11, 2013, 12:23:56 12:23 »

i lost the password text can some one provide the password for archive

regards
sadman
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