PIC Midi programming and hardware

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Software Needed

Lets take a moment to talk about development tools. Three software pieces are needed to make a PIC IC do something. First we need an editor for writing the Code. These editors are called IDEs ( Integrated Development environments ). There is no reason why one can't use Notepad or Vi for writing their code, however having an IDE is a lot better because things get color coded, errors in the code are easily spotted, and various tools for debugging and testing are also there. Some IDEs are quite pricey, but the one I chose to use is a very nice free one called SourceBoost IDE. The second piece is the compiler/linker this step takes the Code written in a language of choice like Basic, C, or Assembly and converts it to HEX format that the PIC can understand and execute. The compiler I used is PicC-Lite and it is available totally free from HI-TECH software. The 16F627 is supported by the compiler, however some other variations may not be. The final piece of software is the program transfer utility. The VM111 board comes with a ProgPic2.exe in the box and others are available. The software installation does not have to be done in a specific order but loading the VM111 kit software, then PICClite, and finally SourceBoost IDE should make things easier. Windows XP, 2000, and 98 will all work the same and a true Serial port needed for programming because USB to Serial will not work with this kit.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

VM111 from QKits

The Kit arrived from QKits Company in Canada to Iowa, USA in 5 business days, just in time for the weekend tinkering. Order Satisfaction is definatelly a 10. Contrary to the online description, it did include a Serial programming cable, a nice bonus. There was also a mini CD which had the software, schematics, and manuals for all the Velleman Kits on it, double bonus! However finding the VM111 folder was a little hard at first. The printed manual is identical to the online PDF version, however it proved very valuable during the development process. The PIC was already inserted in the socket. There was no description of the power supply polarity that I could find. Outside minus(-) inside plus(+) is what the board takes. 9V 300MA ended up working out just fine.

Development Board Kit of Choice is VM111

Velleman Kit VM111 was picked as the development platform for several reasons:
  • Low Cost ($56.95 Assembled + $10.00 Shipping)
  • Support for 4 different sizes of PICS ( 8,14,18,28)
  • Builtin 4Mhz xtal, 4 Buttons, 6 LEDS, Reset
  • Free Software and Manual
  • PIC included ( 16F627 )
Google link to retailers and the place where I ordered my VM111 from.

In the Beginning....

MIDI and PICs are the holy grails of the DIY Musicans. Every MIDI enabled gadget instantly draws oohs and aahs from unsuspecting mainstream gear users. However the truth is that MIDI programming and custom hardware controllers are now more affortable and easy to make then ever. In this blog I hope to provide quick tips for setting everything up to transmit that first MIDI note with a simple and cheap PIC microcontroller.