My Own COM Port GUI

June 9, 2010

I am going to  write about the GUI that I developed for sending data to my PIC development board. I used Liberty BASIC Gold version to develop this GUI.

You may download the demo version for free at However, there are certain limits for the software and you have to register for a Gold version to enjoy all the features of the software.  The programming window of the software looks like the one shown in the picture below. There are tutorials available in the software which may be accessed as shown in the picture below. You may learn to open a GUI window, add buttons and consequently handle events upon button click  using the simple tutorials. These are  essential elements for our COM port recipe. When you are done with the tutorials,  you would be capable enough to design a small interface as shown in the picture below: Once you are done adding buttons, you must add a functionality to the buttons. For eg: I have added the close window option to Quit button. I am sending a string of information to my controller when I press either of the Forward, Reverse or Neutral buttons.

The algorithm for the same is as follows:

1) Open COM port

2) Send string

3) Close COM port.

Close button press event handle

Note: You have to close the event handles properly once you are done with handling the event of a button press or your code may end with bugs.

The algorithm at the PIC microcontroller end  to receive ASCII string from your computer is as follows:

1) Initialise ports and Set the Baud rate

2) If data received, read the data.

3) If string x is received, move forward

4)If string y is received, move reverse

5)If string z is received, move to neutral position

6) Go to step 2

Please note that I am trying to control a servo motor through serial port.  If you would like to know the operation of a servo motor, please refer to the following link.

I used the MikroC compiler to write the code for serial port communication and servo motor control.

unsigned short i;
void main()
TRISB = 0x00;
{ if (USART_Data_Ready())
i = USART_Read();
i = i-48;
if( i ==1)
PORTB = 1;
PORTB = 0;
else if(i==0)
PORTB = 1;
PORTB = 0;
else if(i==2)
PORTB = 1;
PORTB = 0;

Please note that the baud rate was 19200 bps, 1 stop bit, no parity, no hardware control and the number of bits transmitted was 8.

When you are done coding your PIC, you may create an exe file for your application as follows: You may download the GUI that I developed from the following location.

You may also have a look at my video of operating my servo motor through serial port.


Tact Switches are Culprits

March 10, 2010

Tact switches are culprits

One of the several boards that was populated in order to cater to the needs of students didn’t work to my surprise. I measured the voltage across power supply terminals and between OSC2 and ground. They appeared to be perfect and I was not able to identify why the board wasn’t functional. I forgot to measure the voltage between the MCLR pin and the ground. When, I tried holding my MCLR pin at 5v, my board started working!

I planned to go for a tact switch in order to reset the controller on occasions of “hang-up” of the microcontroller. I had an heated argument with my friend about tact switches while designing this board. My friend told me that ” Tact switches are culprits”. I shrugged off his threat and moved on to taste my own medicine :(.

Tact switch springs are usually of poor quality and they cannot return to their original state on several occasions. In general ,it is advisable to go for debounce logic in your program if you are using a tact switch for any digital input. For reset option, it is advisable to use a power-on reset i.e Your controller resets every time you switch on the power supply.

PIC JDM Programmer

March 1, 2010

I must thank my friend Sathish who has developed this cute little JDM PIC programmer. This is the smallest programmer that I have ever used for a PIC.

PIC JDM Programmer

He has used the schematic from Olimex as a reference.

Please find the link below:

IR and LDR sensor strips

February 26, 2010

I have attached the pictures of the IR and sensor strips that I had designed for the robotics workshop.

The chassis design is out!

February 19, 2010

Side view of the chassis without the castor wheel

A close up of the wheel

I have attached some of the pictures of the chassis in its nascent stages. More to come….

Update as on February 25:

I have used 4 spacers to mount the development board.

Back View

Side View

The board has been populated and it is ready

February 8, 2010

PICdevelopment board

The board was populated successfully and most of the functional features of the board have turned out to be successful. I am yet to test one of the two voltage comparators available on the board.

The main features of the board include:

  1. PIC16F877A platform
  2. L293D module ( Can drive 2 geared DC motors or 1 stepper motor)
  3. ULN 2003A module for stepper motors
  4. Voltage comparator circuit for LDR based sensor module
  5. Voltage comparator circuit for IR LED – photodiode based sensor modules
  6. Analog Inputs
  7. Seven Segment Display * 4nos
  8. RS232 port
  9. LED outputs to test the comparators/voltage sensors
  10. 8 LEDs to test the outputs of the individual pins of the controller
  11. Plug and play option — Can test it with simple connecting wires across any pin of the microcontroller
  12. Power supply pins to power other add-on boards

Looking foward for your comments!

She(Development Board) is ready

January 24, 2010

Finally the board that I had developed is ready. I tested the function of the board with simple PWM program. I provided the output to capture the output using a LED. Though it may not look like a pulse width modulated output, I am happy that the basic functionality of the board is a great success. I believe that the other functionalities are also successful.  I plan to make it open source when the board is fully functional.

I am also enclosing a few photographs of my development board