Let's Make Robots!

PICaxe Platform Module

I've been working on a design supporting 28 & 40 pin PICaxes.  The PICaxe board would support current and upcoming modules like the LCD I/O, motor controller, Internet / IP board, DMX, MIDI, etc.  The prototypes came out great:

picaxeplatform.jpg

I emailed the PICaxe folks last week (orders@techsupplies.co.uk) to get quantity pricing on their IC's.  They emailed me back asking for a more info on the product.  I sent them info and a few days later they let me know they effectively weren't interested in selling me anything because they felt the module would be 'extremely similar' to their 022  protoboard:

axe022.jpg

I don't think the products are very similar, but even if they were, I don't know why PICaxe doesn't want to foster a community of vendors offering development tools based on their products.  I think choice is a good thing.  Ultimately, though, they decide which products will be made available, and which will not.  

It's highly unlikely that I'll be able to offer PICaxe modules, but here are the design files, offered (like all my other boards) under the MIT license.  Hopefully, someone might find them useful!

DipTrace
PDF
Gerbers

Parallax has been incredibly supportive of the community & Arduino is open source, so I was surprised by PICaxe's response.  It bums me out, but whatcha gonna do?

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Ha!  Thanks for cordial welcome.  I think they'd make more money being more open, but that's up to them.  I didn't know the history with PICaxe, their response makes a lot more sense now.  

The Kic looks like the right option, thanks for the suggestion!  I can ship it with that & people can use it, swap in a PICaxe, or just program the PIC.

Nick,

 Welcome the the world of PICAXE and Rev_Ed. 

It has long been their policy to discourage 3rd party vendors from  creating and selling pcbs based on the PICAXE. This reson is strictly financial. There is more profit in selling pcbs in the education market  than in selling chips.

Until recently, Rev-Ed would not sell PICAXE chips directly (period) to vendors with custom pcbs. Rev_ed would threaten to sue or pull the PICAXE chips, if the vendor offered a pcb.  Rev_Ed now just makes it very difficult to buy the chips in volume. This works to kill the interest of the the smaller vendors, who cannot spend the time and money to wade through the hassels.

This has changed with the larger vendors like HVW Tech and Advanced MIcro. Both have "bitten the bullet".

There is one other option, use a compatible chip. After all there is nothing really that special with the PICAXE, it was originally a rip off of the the BASIC STAMP 1.

It turns out that the KIC CHIP is a replacement for the PICAXE, but was developed independently from the ground up. PCBS that work with the KIC Chip will work with the PICAXE. I've been using KIC Chips for a couple of years now.

Here is an example of a commercial robot based on the KIC Chip http://www.1sorc.com/guide/Crab_Manual.pdf

Myc

I would order your development board instead of the actual picaxe 28X1 one, there is just one small problem, where do you connect the second power supply ?

For motors and stuff the connection to a second power supply would be on the motor module.  The voltage regulators on the board source about an amp, though.

You could always offer PICAXE boards and modules for sale and let people order the chips directly from PICAXE. If you are going to offer original designs with shields and other cool stuff, I'd definitely consider buying from you.
That's the idea - the PICaxe module isn't really all that special, but all the add-on modules are what's cool.  There are already a few modules, and more are coming up.

I was thinking about just offering the boards, but that's probably too much to ask most users.  It also puts the product at a huge disadvantage.  Besides, they emailed me again today and are 100% opposed to the product.  

It seems to me that supporting a marketplace full of choices is in the best interest of their community (and customers), I was really surprised by their response.  Really, I'd rather spend my energy working with companies (like Parallax) or groups (like Arduino) that support the community and aren't focused on extracting every possible penny from their customers.  

Time to work on the Arduino Module!!!

That's stupid of them, the SD21 servo controller is made by Devantech, but based on a picaxe 18x, and has a slot to host another 18x (or a bs2, atom...)

This politic is a total non-sense! Why wouldn't they want to have more and more products compatible with chip?

Anyway, they can't forbid you to sell your board without the chip, can they?

Technically, no.  They can't forbid it, but they can make it very unattractive.  Without a microcontroller, though, the bare pcb isn't going to sell very well.  Many customers are beginners (i.e. they need a programming cable), and they're more likely just to order from a store where they can order both at once.  But next time I do a panel run, I'll put a few pixter boards on, for anyone who's interested.  

And honestly, I'd rather offer the beginner a ucontroller that's made by someone who supports the community (Parallax or Arduino) than PICaxe.  I love the PICaxe (the 08 is 555 of our time), but their business practices result in a much less vibrant marketplace. 
Can they actually stop you selling it?

I`m $orry your time wa$ wa$ted. I gue$$ they just want the moulah and they figure they can get more of it through their board$ than bulk pricing the chip$ to you. It`$ a real $hame too, becau$e you think $preading around their chip$ would be a wi$e bu$ine$$ move for them in the long run. They ju$t can`t $ee the benefit$ down the track becau$e of all the money clouding their vi$ion?