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Free Robot? _ huh? Answered

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I have a little dilemma, i want to get into robotics and programing, but first is need a microcontroller, I remember seeing an Instructable about building a robot from a PIC sample. I can't find it! Maybe you you know where it went! or maybe you can help me find a free sample of a PIC microcontroller! anywho, Thanks!

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westfw (author)2008-07-13
A fair number of microcontrollers with direct USB support are available as samples, but there is quite a distance from being having a device that you can plug into a PC's USB port and program away on.
If you've got $30 bucks to spend, I would not hesitate to recommend you get one of the arduino clone kits:
Largely because of all the info and support available on the net.

But the "free sample USB microcontroller project" that you're thinking of is probably the "USB bit whacker" breadboard version which uses a microchip USB microcontroller (available as samples) and not much else. ( USB bit whacker home page has more info, sample SW, PCB layouts, etc) You will need to find someone who can program the needed USB bootloader iinto the microcontroller before you'd be off and running. You MIGHT be able to program it using one of those really cheap self-built PIC programmers, but that adds quite a bit of uncertainty to the whole process.

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westfw (author)westfw2008-07-13

The other possibility is that a number of vendors (TI, Atmel, Renesas, and STmicro come to mind) have given away free copies of their low-end development/evaluation boards, which nowadays include USB connectivity, in exchange for attending marketing spiels of variable length and content at trade shows or similar. I talked about this some in my How to choose a Microcontroller instructable.
Unfortunately for you, many such events are age-restricted. Still, this is an indication that a well-worded request from a responsible party (parent or teacher) might meet with a favorable response. Things that can be given away, can be ... well, given away!

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Sandisk1duo (author)westfw2008-07-13

Lol i can black-mail my electronics teacher for playing pirated movies in class! : )

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guyfrom7up (author)2008-07-12

just go to microchip.com (maker of PIC microcontrollers) and ask for a sample

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Sandisk1duo (author)guyfrom7up2008-07-12

are there ones that can be programmed thru USB?

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guyfrom7up (author)Sandisk1duo2008-07-12
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Kiteman (author)guyfrom7up2008-07-12

AFAIK, most PIC chips need a dedicated programmer, which is why I suggested Picaxe - it is a PIC chip, with a pre-loaded programme that allows repeated programming via a serial cable (or a USB adaptor) that plugs into an audio stereo socket soldered permanently to the circuit board. You could build your robot and re-programme it as often as you like.

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zachninme (author)2008-07-12

These things are pretty cheap, do you really need to sample? Even if you do, you'll still need to get a programmer, which will cost 'ya.

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Sandisk1duo (author)zachninme2008-07-12

unless it has on-chip capabilities of USB....

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Kiteman (author)2008-07-10

Do you mean this one?

If you contact Picaxe as a representative of a school or college, and can provide a proper school postal address, Picaxe do send out free samples of their kits for evaluation purposes.

I did that, but the money people stopped me buying more for lessons.

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Lithium Rain (author)Kiteman2008-07-10

...the money people... LOL! I guess the money people ARE made of money??

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Kiteman (author)Lithium Rain2008-07-12

Well, they hold the purse-strings...

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Sandisk1duo (author)Kiteman2008-07-10

No, there was some other one, but thanks anyway!

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