Let's Make Robots!


hello all, this is my first post on this website so i hope i don't sound to much like a noob.

heres a little background- i have always loved taking things apart and building things so when i started i didn't know where to go so i brought the parralax basic stamp 2 starter kit from radio shack. but when i looked to start a project i didn't know if i should learn a new language like C or stick with the overpriced basic stamp. well i wanna move to avr or pic but i want to program in basic until i get my mind around C. so my question is would it be easy to switch from Pbasic to just basic. are their any free compilers. and what uC should i get for basic.  

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first off thanks all who repiled

im going to really get down basic and use  pics instead of avrs because pics are cheap and the compiler is free :) i think

then i will learn assembly because i want to be in full power of the uC instead of the interputer. (gonna wait till i have more time so i fully understand it)

thanks all who replied and happy building :) 

Here is the link for Rev-Ed. You can download the picaxe basic program editor and manuals for free here.

If you want to use AVRs and Basic, there is an answer for your needs: BASCOM-AVR. It is a Basic Compiler for AVR micros, by MCS Electronics. You write code with the ease of basic syntax and you have direct access to the AVR registers, also the code is compiled to hex file, same like a C or C++ code. So, it's a bit more advanced than the "regular" PIC basic variants.

However, let me tell you the way I have started to love this hobby, by building Lego Mindstorms RIS robots (the one before NXT) and programming them in Not Quite C. This language looks very similar with basic except that it has C syntax (you need to use the semicolon, curly brackets, and so on...). The code runs over a firmware that deals with the microcontroller's registers and memory, so I never had to read a data sheet. That changed when I decided I wanted to build more capable robots. I have tried several platforms, like Nemesis from Kronos Robotics, OOPIC-R from Savage Innovations, then BASCOM-AVR. After a while I have found Arduino. That got me back on programming in C and loving it. It got me back to NQC (except the multitasking) but this time better and faster, as the code is compiled and run directly, not using a firmware. The good part in Arduino is you don't need to read any data sheet until you need to do advanced stuff. It's all set in the libraries, you just put them together and write the logic. Easy and effective. And you get to learn the basics of the C language. And it's all FREE. Well, not the boards, but you can make your own for cheap or you can find the proper variant for your needs. You can't beat that. Anyway, I would suggest you to do some homework and decide for a platform (dev. board and programming) that has future, expandability, lots of users that do anything imaginable with it. I still have that OOPIC-R and it collects dust in a toolbox somewhere...

You can see that I'm biased, right?

Honestly, most of the prototyping with pics can be done on a breadboard, if you are using a serial port only 3 pins are used to program it, although, pic assembler gets annoying sometimes, Either get a bunch of pics and play with them or get some Picaxe chips (18x or 28x) and play with those, a hell of a lot more simple as far as programming goes due to the bootstrap code on the pic. If you decide to go with picaxe I suggest getting one of these or these or these. I use those boards for all of my picaxe based prototypes, very simple. Its all up to you
yea i was planning on useing the pic 28x but someone on here recommend the pickit2 which has the  PIC16F887 also which language do you use and in the long run would you recommend a picbasic compiler? thanks

If you want to stay with basic then picaxe would definately be the way to go. Pic assembly can be annoying as Smartpartz said. However I also enjoy knowing that I am in control of the machine and not some interpreter.I'm afraid I haven't tried pic32. 32 bit would be nice but do your projects need that kind of power yet?

When I bought the low pin count board and pickit2 it came with the 16f690.Maybe that's changed now. But the tutorials with it are great and easy to follow and the 16f690 has quite a few features for a small chip. although the number of chips in microchips lineup is overwhelming after a while you can see the differences between them and also how they can be similar.

That's my experience. Like I said I would like to try the avr's to see if I'm missing out on anything but I bought a stack of pics so I'll use them up before I do.


yea im almost done with the basic stamp so i wanted something a little more affordable ( im poor :) ) and yes your right it is a good starting point but for projects 50$ is a little expensive. also avrs basic environment is bascom i think but what attracted me to pic is the amount of users.  ok my last question/statement is it really worth it to learn assembly even though im near done with basic? what micro controllers in the pic fammily can be programmed with picbasic? should i get the pic32 starter kit instead of the pickit2? and if i learn assembly will i need a expensive compiler.....yes i know that was more then one question ;)

thanks to all who respond 

I bought a basic stamp2 in the early days when I knew little about microcontrollers. It was a good starting point. Parallax offers plenty of free support and info. The programming software is free. Seeing you already have bought the stamp you may as well use it.

When I realised the stamp was actually a pic chip I thought why don't I get some pic chips and learn how to use them. Boy what a learning process that was. But there is some satisfaction in playing around at the assembly level. And again mplab ide is free. And Pickit2 is an excellent and cheap programmer especially handy with the low pin count learner board and tutes.

Now I see so many into the atmel chips in one form or another I'm seriously thinking of trying them out. Except having to learn c and familiarising myself with all the different libraries and their classes and functions is putting me off.

To answer your questions.

It's usually easy to switch between basics just take note of the slight differences when you change from one type to another. Most systems have free programming software available. I don't know about atmel maybe someone else can say if they have a basic programming environment available. I'm sure they would. You already have the basic stamp so use it and get familiar with what you can do with it. Forget learning c until you have mastered the stamp in basic then you could try going to pics or avr's or anything else for that matter. There's a lot of options but if you keep with the 3 brands. I've mentioned there's plenty of information on the net about them.


 also you stated above that i could get a free editor is that the same thing as a compiler?

i also saw the compilers from micro chip where $99(or more) if you get a good one but there is also this program called great cow or something (free basic compiler) is that reliable?



what do you mean it supports the basic stamp 1?

really the only reason im moving away from the basic stamp is cost and eeprom

so instead of useing the basic what pic should i use

also is picbasic like Pbasic or different and is their a book/tutorial i can learn from

sorry for the waves of questions and thanks