Getting started with PICAXE?

I want to get started using PICAXE microcontrollers after using both PICs and AVRs before, and I have already learned the BASIC language, it's pretty easy, as the name would suggest. My main interests with them are that they can be easily programmed with two resistors and a 3-pin serial cable, they are easy to program and have ADC inputs, and also audio functionality.

What would be a good place to get started, I was looking at the 08M, but it looks like it was recently discontinued and replaced by the M2. The reason I don't really want to move on is because I have just learned the pinouts and functions for the 08M, and also a lot of projects here on instructables utilize it. I was looking at building the tic tac tunes.I also noticed that it has the markings "12F683", so does this mean I could just buy a pic 12F683 chip and use it as a picaxe? Are they identical or is there a subtle difference in them.

I also noticed that the audio functionality seems to be very limited in that the smaller chips only do polyphonic notes, and the mid sized chips only do mp3 from eeprom, and only the very large 40 pin chips do audio. What is the smallest chip that supports a full range sound file. Memory shouldn't be too much of a problem as the clip is only about a second long, so one with 256k should be fine, as long as it features internal audio.

My last question is what should I buy, as in chips (universal and common experimentation chips), and any other accessories I may need. By the looks of things, all I need is the chip, a headphone socket, resistors, and a download cable.

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iceng5 years ago
Parallax and microchip have starter packages or point to third party providers.
I usually make my own download cables it's not that hard.
I have not used the new M2 .

andy70707 (author)  iceng5 years ago
Yea, I actually have a DB9 connector already, so all I need is a stereo socket and jack. I also have USB jacks, would I just need to wire up the ground-ground and RXD and TXD to data + and - on USB? Looking at the download cable, it is too small to have an active converter or any components apart from maybe a resistor or two. The reason I asked about the M2 is because I can't seem to find the Ms cheaply, even though the 08 is still available. The only Ms I found were on eBay at a relatively high price.
iceng andy707075 years ago
Hate to admit ( off the top of my head ) I can't remember.
Go to Microchip site and pull down the user PDF Free
A wiring diagram will be in there.

AndyGadget5 years ago

Glad you found TicTacTunes #;¬) 
The Picaxe is a PIC which is loaded with additional code by Rev-Ed, the people who sell it.  This code is what does the Basic interpreting once the chip is programmed and is why the Picaxe costs more than an equivalent PIC.
The upside is that you get a system which is extremely easy to work with - It was designed initially for the educational market.  The downside is that it is considerably slower than an equivalent raw PIC.  Although they are plenty fast enough for most things, you won't get enough speed for direct audio processing.  There'd be no problem in interfacing to something like THIS.  There's a long thread about this module on the Picaxe forum.  No PIC supports MP3 directly, but there are ways of storing and playing back low quality audio.

The 08m2 is the replacement for the 08m with much larger memory, 8 times the speed and pseudo multi-tasking.  It also has more pin features available.  It is backwards compatible with the 08m, so code and hardware designed for the 08m will work fine with a 08m2.  If you've got the 8-pin proto board and  AXE027 cable you've got a very usable little development system which you could easily build TicTacTunes on. (You also need to download the free Programming Editor software.)

Got to go to work now but if you have other questions, post back.

andy70707 (author)  AndyGadget5 years ago
Thanks for the helpful answer, I actually ordered an 08m as an SMD as nowhere seems to sell them cheaply, it's good to know they are backwards compatible as would have bought the 08m2, I now have to try and solder the SMD to a breakout board. I already have the software, and I was thinking of making my own cable as it is a lot cheaper. I actually already have a serial-interface pic programmer that supports 8-pin chips including the 12F683 the picaxe is based off, but the software it comes with only does pre-compiled hex.
rickharris5 years ago
You will get a better range of answers at the Picaxe Forum - We are a friendly bunch! http://www.picaxeforum.co.uk/