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'[PIC]: PIC in a PC - My two cents worth'
2001\11\09@015102 by myke predko

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My comments on the different methods to connect to a PC:

1.  RS-232.  quite easy, support in many PICmicro MCU part numbers, MAX232
for level translation with the USART.  If you are bit banging, you can use a
couple of resistors and a transistor for "voltage stealing" level
conversion.  On the PC side, most PCs have a built in RS-232 interface and
even if they don't, you can add one via USB.  RS-232 has Windows operating
system support and can be easily used in Visual Basic.

2.  Parallel Ports.  Very easy to design for "one off" applications (because
there is no voltage level conversion) but a real bear if you are trying for
a mass market product.  Even though there is a "standard", there are many
different ways the actual ports are implemented (as I have found out to my
displeasure).  If you want to create Windows applications accessing the
parallel port, you will either have to go with Visual C++ or add a port I/O
DLL and access this in Visual Basic.

IEEE 1394 is promising as you could use the PICmicro MCU's Parallel Slave
Port (PSP) - but there is no native operating system support.  You should be
able to get very fast data transfers using IEEE1394 and the PSP, but you
will have to add a port I/O DLL.

3.  ISA bus.  Dead easy to interface a PICmicro MCU with a PSP - I've done
it at least a half dozen times.  Along with address, data and control,
regulated power is included on the bus and no signal level conversion is
required.  You can use 74LS138/74LS139/74LS85 for address compare and wire
the PICmicro MCU's PORTD pins (the PSP data port) directly to the ISA bus'
data pins.  The biggest issue with developing this interface is figuring out
how you will scope it to debug it.

You can provide Plug and Play with a PICmicro solution, but I would
recommend hard-wired addresses.

4.  PCI bus.  Forget using a PICmicro MCU to control the access - data
transfers happen just too fast for the PICmicro to respond.  If you want
good PCI interfaces, look at the Altera and Xilinx PCI libraries for their
CPLDs; they make designing a PCI adapter about as easy as it can get.

5.  USB.  I've been disappointed by the lack of innovative products for this
bus for hobbyists, small scale production designers.  I think somebody noted
that USB was great for volume production and lousy for one offs.

I would like to see a boot loader added to a USB PICmicro MCU so that a
hobbyist could create simple applications and have the hard stuff (PICmicro
MCU USB interface and WDMs) "canned" for them.

6.  System I2C bus.  This bus is normally used for processor fan control,
processor/system temperature monitoring and case lock status.  While you can
access this bus, it is not recommended as critical operating features can be
corrupted and the built in BIOS will not have good error
detection/correction routines.

7.  Keyboard/Mouse.  I'll lump these together and say that while they are
easy to interface to, the interface standard is well defined and the
interface provides 100 mA of regulated power, they should never be
considered.  The keyboard and mouse are just too tightly integrated into the
operating system (Windows or Linux) to be considered as an interface device.

8.  Ethernet.  This is one interface I would like to see exploited - create
a simple E'net HTTP/FTP/Network File System (NFS) server that could be used
to provide remote functions for the PC.

I've been considering looking at an old ISA card and seeing how to interface
to that (ideally have dynamically allocated IPs).  Has anybody been down
this road before?


Comments?

myke

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2001\11\09@052621 by Sean H. Breheny

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Excellent summary, Myke!

At 12:48 AM 11/9/01 -0500, you wrote:
>My comments on the different methods to connect to a PC:

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2001\11\09@052956 by Kathy Quinlan

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----- Original Message -----
From: "myke predko" <spam_OUTmykeTakeThisOuTspamPASSPORT.CA>
To: <.....PICLISTKILLspamspam@spam@MITVMA.MIT.EDU>
Sent: Friday, November 09, 2001 1:48 PM
Subject: Re: [PIC]: PIC in a PC - My two cents worth

<el snippo>




> 8.  Ethernet.  This is one interface I would like to see exploited -
create
> a simple E'net HTTP/FTP/Network File System (NFS) server that could be
used
> to provide remote functions for the PC.
>
> I've been considering looking at an old ISA card and seeing how to
interface
> to that (ideally have dynamically allocated IPs).  Has anybody been down
> this road before?
>
>
> Comments?

yeap big ones, works good :o) go to http://www.8052.com and look at the tcp/ip
project, it describes how to do it :o), the biggest problem is space for the
tcpip stack, but if you forget tcp and go udp or icmp you are set.

I have also been working with the crystal lan chip, using a cpld interface
(they work in 16 bit mode better than 8 bit and most hobby Uc's are 8 bit).
my system is driven by an AVR (8515)


Also companies like embedded ethernet make dip plugin modules :o)
(http://www.embeddedethernet.com)

Regards,

Kat.


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2001\11\09@102649 by Dale Botkin

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On Fri, 9 Nov 2001, myke predko wrote:

> 8.  Ethernet.  This is one interface I would like to see exploited - create
> a simple E'net HTTP/FTP/Network File System (NFS) server that could be used
> to provide remote functions for the PC.

Don't know about nfs, but bootp/RARP/that sort of thing is attractive.
TFTP might not be bad, I even have a TFTP server for Windows (thanks
Cisco!), so that might work.  I avoid looking too hard at HTTP because the
other protocols all use UDP, whch is ideally suited for PICs on Ethernet
IMHO.  I am, in fact, working on a few projects along this line - have a
lot of code written, but not tested becauseI haven't decided on the
Ethernet hardware part yet.  The CS8900 is far from perfect but the least
objectionable I've seen so far.  The real question is - how long will it
live?

> I've been considering looking at an old ISA card and seeing how to interface
> to that (ideally have dynamically allocated IPs).  Has anybody been down
> this road before?

It's been done, and I have looked into it but discarded the idea.  ISA is
dying very quickly, and while you can buy ISA Ethernet cards used very
cheaply, they have zero appeal for anything but a one-off hobby project.
While that comprises 90% of what I do, I usually try to avoid putting a
whole lot of time and effort into things that can't be reproduced en masse
if someone likes one of my ideas or I figure out how to market and sell
something - nothing is as frustrating as a great product that's
impractical to manufacture!

Dale

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2001\11\09@144812 by Bond, Peter

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> I've been considering looking at an old ISA card and seeing
> how to interface
> to that (ideally have dynamically allocated IPs).  Has
> anybody been down
> this road before?

www.rof.net/yp/alphaone/activities/electronics/3c509b/
http://www.eix.co.uk/Ethernet/
www.chipcenter.com/circuitcellar/july99/c79bl7.htm
(OK, so the last one is an AVR, but...)

Currently building one for a 3C509 - doesn't work yet, but that'll be
because I haven't finished debugging the HW.  Once I get that running, I'll
look at DHCP.

Peter
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2001\11\09@184303 by Bond, Peter

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> Don't know about nfs, but bootp/RARP/that sort of thing is attractive.

Probably easier to implement than DHCP (lack of timeouts, for example)

> TFTP might not be bad, I even have a TFTP server for Windows (thanks
> Cisco!), so that might work.  I avoid looking too hard at

TFTP on a PIC?  As what, a bootloader?  That could be interesting...

> The CS8900 is far from perfect but the least
> objectionable I've seen so far.  The real question is - how
> long will it
> live?

Seems fairly easy to i/f to, the only thing holding me back ATM is
magnetics.
One other possibility is to add TCP/IP stacks on dedicated chips, but things
rapidly progress towards the question of whether a PIC is suitable.

> It's been done, and I have looked into it but discarded the
> idea.  ISA is
> dying very quickly, and while you can buy ISA Ethernet cards used very
> cheaply, they have zero appeal for anything but a one-off
> hobby project.

Agreed - but since I am doing this as a hobby project, ones & twos doesn't
bother me that much.  Even tinkering with the CS8900 is still in the hobby
domain, just... smaller.  I'm looking more at the home automation side of
things - sort of a testbed of "this is what we have; now, what can be done
with it".

Peter
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2001\11\09@204548 by Bob Ammerman

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> > 8.  Ethernet.  This is one interface I would like to see exploited -
create
> > a simple E'net HTTP/FTP/Network File System (NFS) server that could be
used
> > to provide remote functions for the PC.
>
[snip]

>ethernet hardware part yet.  The CS8900 is far from perfect but the least
> objectionable I've seen so far.  The real question is - how long will it
> live?

Crystal seems to have repositioned it as an 'embedded' part.

I expect that somebody has got to come out with a high integration, low
pin-count interface NIC just for the embedded market. It just makes too much
sense not to do it (unless they all insist on embedding everything on one
chip: microcontroller, NIC and TCP/IP stack).

Bob Ammerman
RAm Systems

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2001\11\09@211855 by Ashley Roll

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Hi Everyone..

I'm working on exactly that in my free time.. Based on a CS8900A.

The idea is I'll have a serial interface and you send it commands to open
TCP connections or listen for incoming connections or UDP packets etc, then
you can send a command to transmit or receive data on open
connections/sockets.

Currently have it doing ARP, ICMP (ping) and most of UDP.

I'll let you all know how I get on.

Cheers,
Ash

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