by Gary Shearer [g.shearer at vanderbilt.edu]
Before you begin, you will need to collect the necessary hardware and software items to have something to work with. I will start with a basic list and provide further explanation on each of the listed items a bit later. Once you are familiar with the items you require, you can set about the tasks of making decisions as to which items will fit your needs and begin collecting the needed materials. You will need the following:
As you read through the explanations of each item on the list, you can decide for yourself exactly what will fit your specific needs. I am recommending the 16F84 10/P microcontroller, as this is the device that I will be using in most of my examples. Later, I will discuss other hardware and you will need to make the necessary adjustments for the differences in devices.
Basic electronics knowledge would also be quite helpful. I will go into detail about specific circuits in order to provide a complete understanding of the subject matter. This is only a starting point. As you progress, I am sure you will want to experiment with many other peripheral devices which will enable you to do even more with your chosen microcontroller
It will be necessary to obtain a microcontroller and the other associated hardware items on which to run the programs you will be writing. JAL supports several microcontrollers, which are manufactured by Microchip Technologies and Scenix. The supported version of JAL will work with Microchip Technologies 16C84/04, 16C84/10, 16F84/04 and 16F84/10 microcontrollers. Also, the SX18/50 and SX28/50 microcontrollers by Scenix can be used. Limited support versions of JAL lengthen the list of microcontrollers, which can be used, however, all the features of the additional microcontrollers may not be fully implemented at this time. There may also be a few undiscovered and uncorrected bugs so I recommend that you use the supported version for your beginning efforts and try out the unsupported versions when you gain a bit of experience.
I am including a short list of suppliers where both the microcontrollers and their necessary support hardware may be purchased. This is not by any means a complete list, but a good starting point. There may be other smaller companies, who have hardware for sale, but at this time, I have identified at least a partial list for you and most of these companies will ship internationally.
Microchip Technologies sells their products directly, however, they charge about 150% of the normal price and will only ship via UPS ground within the United States. Parallax is the prime distributor for Scenix and they also sell many of the support hardware items you will need as well as their own products using the PIC and SX microcontrollers. Farnell is a worldwide distributor and their products are available through Newark Electronics in the United States www.newark.com I have chosen these vendors as they distribute their products worldwide.
See Beginners checklist for PICs for more information on programmers and setting up PIC hardware. (EditHint: move non-JAL-specific text there)
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