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PICs in Radio

This may seem an odd place to start but it is something I have wanted to do for quite a while and after all, a PIC is a controller, it can control so much of our homebrew projects.

I have the Pico Keyer-Plus and was amazed at how much an 8 pin PIC can do. I like programming in VB and VBA so why not program a PIC? 

Reasons for a PIC controlled project:

  1. Whilst the Pico Keyer-Plus does some amazing things I only use it for keying and I wanted a nice way of changing speed rather than by using a pot, maybe up-down buttons and a display?
  2. I really looked into the RX/TX switching timing for the Ten Tec 1320 (see here for results) and as the PIC is designed to control lines and timing then is is perfect to use for TX/RX switching and possibly high speed QSK, this switching could be designed in with the keyer so the RX mute and TX are all timed around the individual dits and dahs.
  3. Eamon (EI9GQ) uses PICs for controlling DDS synthesisers and displaying the frequency - maybe I could do that too?
  4. Finally - I like programming and it is a challenge!
So where to start - READ!!!!

I asked for 'PIC in Practice' (Newnes ISBN 978-0-7506-6826-2; Maplin L31AC) for Christmas and my two boys clubbed together to buy it for me. I read it from cover to cover and it seemed to sink in quite well. The book skips the details of how the chip was configured and headers etc. and concentrates on getting you coding. I feel lots will find this a good way to learn but please read Mikes PIC Tutorial for a really quick and good guide on how the chip and headers are configured.

There are lots of different PICs for lots of different applications but there seems to be a lot of documentation on the 16F84A chip which is used for lots of applications so I bought one. I was going to go down the Homebrew route to making my own board for it but I was in Maplin one day and saw the Velleman development kit so I bought it (it was 10 GBP cheaper as a kit) and I did make it so......

Help - no serial port on my PC: Amazon sorted that out (Sweex PU006V2 2 Port Serial PCI Card) for 11 GBP (this is getting expensive!)

Now I'm all set to develop a program.....

PS - In retrospect, making my own programming board would have been cheaper but there is a balance between time/frustration/cost. The Velleman kit was good value and will be used in the future - the experience gained has been well worth it.