EVERYTHING FOR ELECTRONICS
BREAKING THE CODE
I enjoyed the “Remotely
Programmable Power” by Paul Lapsansky
(N&V, June ‘08). After all, who has a
hobbyist workbench without a PC sitting
on or near it? After reading the article,
I followed the links to learn more about
the project’s firmware (installed in the
PPS) and the application software that
runs on the PC (and is needed to set
up and control the PPS).
Unfortunately, there are only two
files; the HEX code for the PIC and an
executable that runs under the PC OS.
I learned nothing from them, and
probably will abandon any plans to build
the project, as the ‘software engine’ is an
un-hackable mystery “black box.”
I don’t understand why these
details are kept secret. They have little
commercial value beyond this project
and would have made a great learning
experience for those of us considering
PC-related projects of our own.
The opportunity to hack the firmware
and the PC application would have been
very welcome, even if the print magazine
was limited to a flow chart or block
diagram of the software’s internal operation. Fully documented source code by
download from the magazine’s website
would have been very helpful, too!
In the interest of helping other
readers, can we have full disclosure
of software (and firmware) on future
projects? I’d like to think a progressive
publication like N&V is “open source”
and not modeled after the folks
headquartered in Redmond, WA.
Peter J. Stonard
RESPONSE: Peter, I agree with you on
the benefits of having access to the
source code to better understand how
the project works. It has been my
intention to release the source code for
both the firmware and executable once
I had the opportunity to clean up and
add some comments to the code.
Unfortunately, other projects and family
obligations had delayed me in completing. The source code is now available
for download from both my website
( www.rad220.com) and from the Nuts
& Volts FTP Library, as well. The PPS
program is written in Emergence Basic
from Ionic Wind Software which is a
freeware Basic compiler that can be
downloaded from the their website
( www.ionicwind.com). The firmware
is written in mikroBasic from mikro-Elektronica. You can download a demo
version of their Basic compiler from
their website ( www.mikroe.com). The
demo limits the hex output to 2K but
this is sufficent to compile the PPS
firmware. I left out the code for the
bootloader since this code is included
with the mikroBasic compiler. See the
README file I’ve included with the
source code for information on compiling
and working with the bootloader.
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