Thursday, September 23, 2010

Get Set Up To Hack

Laying the Foundation
So the tempo of this blog will seem a little slow to some. That's what happens when the author has a full-time job that doesn't involve hacking all day. Ohhhhhh, how I would love that. Try to hang with me and I promise I will crank out the content as fast as I can. The last couple of days I've laid the groundwork to really get things going on this project. I set up a GitHub repository that will house all of the source code and schematics, etc for the project so anyone can access them. Right now it's just an empty project because we haven't done anything yet. That will change soon enough. If you want to fork it you can head over to the EmbeddedFun Project. I've also been acquiring some necessary tools for the project which I'll cover below.

Basic Tools and Supplies
So I'm trying my best to keep the price tag on the project down but unlike software where all you need is a compiler, hardware is a bit more involved. I'm not going to try to create a full parts and supplies list up front because it would take forever to think of everything. What I will do is list everything I use as I use it so we can try to keep a running list of sorts. Suffice it to say you'll want to have some of the standard things lying around like a multimeter, soldering iron, resistors, capacitors, wire, etc.

Hardware Environment
For this project I've chosen the PIC family of microcontrollers. I know Arduino is hot right now and much easier to set up but I'm not looking to stack shields together. If we screw something up (miswire, spilled Mt. Dew on board, 1 year old thinks it's a snack) I'd rather replace a $4 microcontoller and some wires than have to buy another arduino shield. Besides, I want to build this thing from the ground up. So one thing you'll definitely need is a programmer.

I recently purchased the Pickit 3 from Microchip. It was around $50 and is capable of programming any uController from Microchip. You're welcome to use whatever you want but I went this route because the price was right and it integrates into the IDE I'll be using; MPLAB.

When Does the Fun Start
By now you're definitely thinking "GET ON WITH IT. I want to make something shocking myself in the process." I hear you but we have to get things set up first.  It will make life much easier as we get into the project. So let's just get through the boring stuff so we can move on. As an aid to these posts I plan to make heavy use of screencasts so people can follow along. So, tomorrow I plan to post the first video which will walk through setting up the environment. Until then this is the basic setup:

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