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'[PIC]: PIC programmer pricing?'
2004\12\21@190843 by olin_piclist

face picon face
I have received quotes on getting individual complete kits for the EasyProg
PIC programmer (http://www.embedinc.com/easyprog).  The question now is do
you think hobbyists would buy them at $59 plus shipping?  This would include
the board and all the parts so you could build your own unit, plus the wall
wart and serial cable - truly all parts you need for an operational unit.

I'm not really trying to make money on the EasyProg, and this price includes
only the slimmest of margin.  OK I might as well tell you, my cost is $31
for the kits in quantity 50, $4 for the boards in quantity 100, probably
$1-2 in packaging, $2 to have them sent out, for a total cost of $39.  It
could never be sold as a for-profit product anywhere near $59, although
hobbyists often don't understand that.  You not only get all the parts, but
a lot of engineering and verification done for you.  The value is good, but
the real question is will anyone shell out $60 for a kit no matter how good
it is?  Any other suggestions for a price?  Even if hobbyist time is
considered free, what about hassle factor?  We see people here regularly
having problems with various dubious "no parts", "el-cheapo", or whatever
programmers.  Is $60 worth the frustration or does that not count?  (I'm
really asking).

I'd like to offer the kit, but I don't want to spend almost $2000 (boards
are already in stock) to find out it is either priced too high to sell or
too low to ever get my money back.


*****************************************************************
Embed Inc, embedded system specialists in Littleton Massachusetts
(978) 742-9014, http://www.embedinc.com
____________________________________________

2004\12\21@200849 by Bob Axtell

face picon face
I think it is a bargain, Olin, especially with the serial cable and
wallwart. If you concentrate
your marketing, pointing out that you've included so many extras, I
think it would be viable.

Good luck. And Merry Christmas!

--Bob



Olin Lathrop wrote:

{Quote hidden}

>_____________________________________________

2004\12\21@202718 by Jose Da Silva

flavicon
face
On Tuesday 21 December 2004 04:08 pm, Olin Lathrop wrote:
> I have received quotes on getting individual complete kits for the
> EasyProg PIC programmer (http://www.embedinc.com/easyprog).  The question
> now is do you think hobbyists would buy them at $59 plus shipping?  This
> would include the board and all the parts so you could build your own
> unit, plus the wall wart and serial cable - truly all parts you need for
> an operational unit.

You might want to leave out the wall wart since it is bulky, pushes up
shipping rates, and something anyone could buy cheap/easily locally
(otherwise put the wallwart under another shopping cart option).
Have you enquired with places like kitsrus or http://www.dontronics.com or some such
outfits? some of these places specialize in quantity and have people
specializing in this type of stuff  (type "electronic kits" into a search
engine).

> I'm not really trying to make money on the EasyProg, and this price
> includes only the slimmest of margin.  OK I might as well tell you, my
> cost is $31 for the kits in quantity 50, $4 for the boards in quantity
> 100, probably $1-2 in packaging, $2 to have them sent out, for a total
> cost of $39.  It could never be sold as a for-profit product anywhere near
> $59, although hobbyists often don't understand that.  You not only get all
> the parts, but a lot of engineering and verification done for you.  The
> value is good, but the real question is will anyone shell out $60 for a
> kit no matter how good it is?

Put it at a price worth "their" and "your" time. you can't please everybody
and no matter how cheap you will put it, someone is always going to complain
about how expensive it is. I read an article about this (tried looking for
it, otherwise would have sent the link) which simply stated, there will
always be people complaining about price. You can put out a product for
free, have it installed for free by Salma Hayek in a bikini, and you will
still have people who still complain that it wasn't installed by a blonde.

> Any other suggestions for a price?  Even if
> hobbyist time is considered free, what about hassle factor?  We see people
> here regularly having problems with various dubious "no parts",
> "el-cheapo", or whatever programmers.  Is $60 worth the frustration or
> does that not count?  (I'm really asking).
>
> I'd like to offer the kit, but I don't want to spend almost $2000 (boards
> are already in stock) to find out it is either priced too high to sell or
> too low to ever get my money back.

Put a price chart of what it would cost on average if someone was going to
get the parts via digikey, total, then your total... hopefully it would
justify the price your charging and people won't be automatically thinking
you're out to scalp them.
Hope that helps.
____________________________________________

2004\12\21@204231 by Robert Rolf

picon face
Have you considered 'takiing pre-orders' to see what kind of demand
you might have? If you don't get enough orders to justify a production
run, then just inform the customers that product will not be available
due to lack of demand. As long as you are honest about the ordering
situation ("will not ship until Jan 30/2005 or not at all if
insufficient demand") no one should have a complaint.

Seems that many chip makers already do this, they just don't TELL
you that's what they're doing, so the 'ship date' keeps getting
pushed back as more profitable chips occupy the fab line.

The price seems fair, but I'd only buy the bare board because I have
everything else lying around (including a ZIF socket).

And why does it not appear to support "A" devices like 16F87*A?
That could kill a lot of interest.

R


Olin Lathrop wrote:
{Quote hidden}

____________________________________________

2004\12\21@204430 by Bob Ammerman

picon face
Olin,

Perhaps rather than having the kitting done by the firm you got a quote from
it could be done by an enterprising PIClister? Said PIClister could also
handle the packaging/mailing etc.

I'd love to see the number of programmer problems we see here on the list
reduced and your programmer (like Wouter's) would certainly help that.

I do think $59 is pretty close to the top end for a lot of hobbyists.

I am not familiar with the software that drives your kit. How friendly is
it? Could it be/is it integrated into MPLAB? That would, in my opinion make
a big difference to a lot of people.

Bob Ammerman
RAm Systems

{Original Message removed}

2004\12\21@211550 by Marcel Duchamp

picon face
Something in the back of my mind on this topic is software updates/upgrades.

There are two things users will probably need.  Updates - new
programming algorithms for new devices.  Upgrades - bug fixes and/or new
features.

As is often kicked around here, some companies provide these forever at
no charge.  Others (certain BASIC compilers) charge US$100 annually.

It might help sales (or kill them) if you were to state your intentions
on this.

For my needs, the Picstart Plus and ICD2 take care of this.  With the
exception of one low cost upgrade to my PS+, Microchip has handed out
new firmware basically for free.
MD
____________________________________________

2004\12\21@213832 by Dmitriy Fitisov

flavicon
face
I agree.
However - first thing people do - look at the price (most likely decision
will be made at that moment),
later at features. So, better drop walmart power supply, cable etc..
and provide it as option.


{Original Message removed}

2004\12\21@215327 by jrem

picon face

--- Olin Lathrop <spam_OUTolin_piclistTakeThisOuTspamembedinc.com> wrote:

{Quote hidden}

It looks to me like the only negative is you don't support ICSP on the
EasyProg, but maybe I'm wrong.  You also don't list ICSP on the
ProProg, although that's probably what the "6 pin locking header" is
for.  Maybe that's the ICD2 on the Microchip part?

I would think the hobbyist would be more interested in the ICSP than
variable VDD, although I understand the latter verifies chip integrity.
But the hobbyist is going to care more about convenience than an
ocassional chip goofing up, IMO, which may be all wet.

$15 for the board is a good deal, $60 for the kit is reasonable but
probably a little higher than some other kits, $80 assembled would be
worth it if you can have a board stuffing house do the whole deal.  But
I don't see the business model in it if you can only sell a couple
hundred units a year at even 50% margin.

But if it does ICSP I'll probably buy one, or at least the board.


               
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____________________________________________

2004\12\21@215843 by Spehro Pefhany

picon face
At 09:38 PM 12/21/2004 -0500, you wrote:
>I agree.
>However - first thing people do - look at the price (most likely decision
>will be made at that moment),
>later at features. So, better drop walmart power supply, cable etc..
>and provide it as option.

On one product we have, the wall*wart doubles the shipping costs.

Best regards,

Spehro Pefhany --"it's the network..."            "The Journey is the reward"
.....speffKILLspamspam@spam@interlog.com             Info for manufacturers: http://www.trexon.com
Embedded software/hardware/analog  Info for designers:  http://www.speff.com




____________________________________________

2004\12\21@225631 by Kenneth Lumia

picon face


> The question now is do
> you think hobbyists would buy them at $59 plus shipping?

Depends on who you consider a "hobbyist". If it's a high
school or college kid, then they probably can't afford it.
Whether it is $39, $59, or $79, it doesn't really make a
difference if there is no disposable income.  That's the
major reason they try to build and use the "cheapo"
programmers.  Also, these people typically have the least
electrical knowledge and lack equipment for testing.
Other, more financially comfortable people would
purchase the product as a faster way of getting to
where they want to go (using PICs) and they don't want
to worry about the programmer details.  They may even
want it assembled and tested if it doesn't add too much
to the cost.  The mixture of hobbyist "types" is an unknown.

> the board and all the parts so you could build your own unit, plus the
> wall
> wart and serial cable - truly all parts you need for an operational unit.

I like this.  Although wall warts and cables add some cost to the
product (including shipping), having everything you need is
impressive (and should be stressed in the sales literature).
As an example, yesterday I received a freescale ZigBee design
kit - it came with everything - and then some. The wall wart had
a set of slip on connectors for at least 3 countries.  They even
through in a few 9V batteries - oh, and a tee shirt!  Let's just say
I stopped work for the day.  Having everything you need
"out of the box" is a good thing.

> the real question is will anyone shell out $60 for a kit no matter how
> good
> it is?  Any other suggestions for a price?  Even if hobbyist time is

Pricing is magic.  It has nothing to due with how much it costs to design
and produce, but ONLY what someone is willing to pay for the
perceived benefits.  It is up to you to very clearly show the customer
why they should pay up for the product.  I'm not going to suggest a
particular price - I don't know the market.  I suggest you look at
similar products being sold to get an idea of what others are charging,
then mark up or down depending on what "features" your product
has that the competition doesn't  (and clearly note it in your sales
literature).

>
> I'd like to offer the kit, but I don't want to spend almost $2000 (boards
> are already in stock) to find out it is either priced too high to sell or
> too low to ever get my money back.

Don't spend the $2000.  Buy in small quantities in the beginning and
start selling at a higher price.  If  nobody purchases the product, put it
on "sale".  If people buy at the "sale" price you know that people liked
the product but weren't willing to shell out the higher price.  Adjust the
selling price accordingly.  Then, once you see sufficient demand, work
on quantity discounts for the parts list.  Note, that in all cases you must
at least break even.

Ken
klumiaspamKILLspamadelphia.net


____________________________________________

2004\12\22@030408 by Wouter van Ooijen

face picon face
> I have received quotes on getting individual complete kits
> for the EasyProg
> PIC programmer (http://www.embedinc.com/easyprog).  The
> question now is do
> you think hobbyists would buy them at $59 plus shipping?  

I sell Wisp628 kits (PCB, parts and connector) for $23.30. Your easyprog
is somewhat higher in features (most important IMHO: variable Vdd
verification, and for some people: the ZIF socket), so a somewhat higher
price should be OK. If the ZIF socket is a significant part of the price
you could offer a cheaper kit without it.

I don't know what wall-wart you have in mind, but remember that the
world has many different mains voltages, frequencies and plugs.

I dunno how this works in other countries, but I try to keep the
packages I send small in order for them to fit in a mailbox. A dutch
malbox has an opening of ~ 3 x 30 cm. Anything larger a higher postage
fee is charged, and it must be handed over at a post office (which takes
precious time!). For me this would be a good reason not to include the
wall-wart.

Remember that even with a perfect kit you will get a few percent of
complaints from people who
- don't understand your software
- use the wrong com port
- can't solder
- put the chips in backwards
- claim (right or wrong, wo can tell?) that the package never arrived
- etc.
Supporting such people costs time. If you choose not to support such
people they might start shouting bad things about your product, never
mind you stating that it is not supported. This could damage your
reputation (including your company). I would give this carefull
consideration. OTOH the easyprog might draw positive attention to your
company.

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu


____________________________________________

2004\12\22@032202 by Hopkins

flavicon
face
Possibly sell a cut down kit of the PCB, ZIFF socket and any other hard
to source parts.

_______________________________________
Roy
Tauranga
New Zealand
_______________________________________


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____________________________________________

2004\12\22@040841 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>You might want to leave out the wall wart since
>it is bulky, pushes up shipping rates, and something
>anyone could buy cheap/easily locally (otherwise
>put the wallwart under another shopping cart option).

I would agree with this, especially as I doubt you want to try supplying
230V wall warts. having a 110V one as an extra cart item, possibly even
supplied only with the programmer to get an inclusive shipping cost.

____________________________________________

2004\12\22@075220 by olin_piclist

face picon face
Jose Da Silva wrote:
> You might want to leave out the wall wart since it is bulky, pushes up
> shipping rates, and something anyone could buy cheap/easily locally

The wall wart is surprisingly cheap.  It costs $1.52 in quantities of only
10.  This is one reason I picked that particular wall wart.  I figured that
having an option to remove it would cost me more in logistics than to just
pay for it.  However, I haven't figured out what to do about countries that
don't have US compatible wall power.  Maybe include a 1.3mm plug instead so
that they can wire up easily to their own wall wart or other power supply.

Which countries have US compatible wall power?  I know the US and Canada are
the same, and I think Mexico too, and maybe Japan, but after that I have no
idea.

> Put a price chart of what it would cost on average if someone was going
> to get the parts via digikey, total, then your total... hopefully it
> would justify the price your charging and people won't be automatically
> thinking you're out to scalp them.

This is exactly what I'm worried about.  A year ago I added up the parts
cost if I were to buy reasonable quantities from hobby places like Jameco,
and I think it came to around $25 plus the circuit board.  That doesn't
sound good compared to $60 when you don't think about the substantial
engineering, testing, and packaging into a kit that you are getting.  This
is the thing a lot of hobbyists don't seem to get.  Just because something
is conceptually simple doesn't mean there isn't substantial work envolved in
realizing it.


*****************************************************************
Embed Inc, embedded system specialists in Littleton Massachusetts
(978) 742-9014, http://www.embedinc.com
____________________________________________

2004\12\22@080130 by olin_piclist

face picon face
Robert Rolf wrote:
> Have you considered 'takiing pre-orders' to see what kind of demand
> you might have?

I tried that with the ProProg and it didn't work very well, even when I
offered a discount for pre-ordering.  Most customers are not ready to buy
one right now, and the lower price didn't seem to be much of an incentive.
Maybe that's because the ProProg is a commercial product in a niche where it
beats the competition on price by a factor of 3, so it's price isn't an
issue.  However on the EasyProg there would be no room for a price
reduction.

The one customer who pre-ordered a ProProg actually sent payment a few weeks
later for two more at the full price, before receiving the first unit.

> And why does it not appear to support "A" devices like 16F87*A?
> That could kill a lot of interest.

I just haven't gotten to that yet.  Fortunately that will be just a
firmware/software upgrade when the support is added.  Right now I'm knee
deep in getting the first production run of ProProgs done (should get it in
my hands late next week) and adding dsPIC support to the ProProg.  After
that I'll probably migrate the dsPIC support to the EasyProg, then the
16FxxA support to both programmers.


*****************************************************************
Embed Inc, embedded system specialists in Littleton Massachusetts
(978) 742-9014, http://www.embedinc.com
____________________________________________

2004\12\22@081008 by olin_piclist

face picon face
Bob Ammerman wrote:
> Perhaps rather than having the kitting done by the firm you got a quote
> from it could be done by an enterprising PIClister? Said PIClister
> could also handle the packaging/mailing etc.

OK, any takers?

> I do think $59 is pretty close to the top end for a lot of hobbyists.

Thanks.  That's the kind of data point I was looking for.

> I am not familiar with the software that drives your kit. How friendly
> is it?

That depends on what you consider friendly.  All the software is command
line based.  This is important for the ProProg since it needs to be
scriptable from within a larger production test program.  A GUI is a lot
more work to write, I personally find them irritating, and isn't needed for
the ProProg.  Both programmers use the same host software, and frankly the
ProProg being a real for-profit product is the driving factor.  The EasyProg
tags along for the free ride.

> Could it be/is it integrated into MPLAB? That would, in my
> opinion make a big difference to a lot of people.

I don't know what that interface looks like.  I always envisioned it being a
lot of work or requiring a particular programmer communications protocol.
Anyone done this before?


*****************************************************************
Embed Inc, embedded system specialists in Littleton Massachusetts
(978) 742-9014, http://www.embedinc.com
____________________________________________

2004\12\22@081453 by olin_piclist

face picon face
Marcel Duchamp wrote:
> There are two things users will probably need.  Updates - new
> programming algorithms for new devices.  Upgrades - bug fixes and/or new
> features.
>
> As is often kicked around here, some companies provide these forever at
> no charge.  Others (certain BASIC compilers) charge US$100 annually.
>
> It might help sales (or kill them) if you were to state your intentions
> on this.

The latest software and firmware is available for free from
http://www.embedinc.com/picprg/sw.htm.  In fact, I don't even bother
shipping software with the unit.  You have to download it yourself.  This
guarantees you get the latest, not something a couple months old when the CD
was written.  It saves me trouble, guarantees the latest version, and not a
single customer has yet complained.


*****************************************************************
Embed Inc, embedded system specialists in Littleton Massachusetts
(978) 742-9014, http://www.embedinc.com
____________________________________________

2004\12\22@081641 by Spehro Pefhany

picon face
At 07:51 AM 12/22/2004 -0500, you wrote:

>Which countries have US compatible wall power?  I know the US and Canada are
>the same, and I think Mexico too, and maybe Japan, but after that I have no
>idea.

Japan has 100VAC @ 50 or 60Hz (depending on where in the country) so you
need to have enough margin to handle 100VAC 50Hz. Taiwan is the
same as the US/Canada. (Both use the same plug). Most of the rest use
240VAC.

Best regards,

Spehro Pefhany --"it's the network..."            "The Journey is the reward"
.....speffKILLspamspam.....interlog.com             Info for manufacturers: http://www.trexon.com
Embedded software/hardware/analog  Info for designers:  http://www.speff.com




____________________________________________

2004\12\22@083232 by olin_piclist

face picon face
jrem wrote:
> It looks to me like the only negative is you don't support ICSP on the
> EasyProg, but maybe I'm wrong.

It does have in-circuit programming capability.  One of the bullets on the
web page says "ZIF socket and connections for in circuit programming in a
single unit.".  I guess that ICSP should be brought out as its own bullet
point.  I'll try to fix this this evening.

One reason I was hesitant to emphasize the ICSP capability is because the
Vdd drive capability is a bit limited, and it can't tolerate more than a few
10s of uF capacitance on Vdd.  Like any ICSP programmer, there are circuits
it can't handle.  I was worried about people not understanding the issues
and then blaming the product.  That's one of the big difference with the
ProProg.  It was designed form the start to be a beafy ICSP programmer with
robustness accross a wide range of target circuits.

> You also don't list ICSP on the
> ProProg, although that's probably what the "6 pin locking header" is
> for.  Maybe that's the ICD2 on the Microchip part?

The ProProg *only* does in-circuit programming.  This time I don't know how
the web page could be clearer.  The very first sentence starts "The
ProProg(tm) is an industrial strength in-circuit PIC programmer"

> $15 for the board is a good deal, $60 for the kit is reasonable but
> probably a little higher than some other kits, $80 assembled would be
> worth it if you can have a board stuffing house do the whole deal.

Thanks for the feedback.

> But if it does ICSP I'll probably buy one, or at least the board.

You can order the bare board any time.


*****************************************************************
Embed Inc, embedded system specialists in Littleton Massachusetts
(978) 742-9014, http://www.embedinc.com
____________________________________________

2004\12\22@085126 by olin_piclist

face picon face
> A lot of people will think that this means you have a mark-up of
> 50% since they will assign $0 per hour for order fulfillment.

That would actually be a very low markup for a product that might sell a few
100/year, although I know hobbyists don't understand that.

> Tracking time by project, I know how (unreasonably) long it takes
> to take orders, pull & pack product, deal with shipping, handle
> all of the little problems that crop up, etc.  You might consider
> farming out order fulfillment.

I do.  That's already arranged for a flat fee of $2/unit.

> I think a lot of hobbyists would spend days of effort and live
> with a "works 1 out of every 3 tries" method instead of spending
> 60 cents to buy a robust solution.  Doesn't make sense...

Yeah, that's what I am afraid of.  Any idea how to counter that?  Emphasize
the no hassle, all included, just works advantages, or just give up?

> Offer the first batch as pre-orders for $59 with cancellation
> clause.  If you get 34 orders, proceed (34 * $59 = $2000 cost for
> 50 kits).  Out of pocket expenses are covered.  Orders beyond 34
> are "profit" to cover the time it takes to fulfill the orders.
> All you are risking is the time to pack & ship the trial batch.
> After the first 50, you can adjust price as dictated by experience.

As I said in another post, I tried this with the ProProg and it didn't work.
In the end I talked to enough people and was convinced it would be accepted,
even though very few were willing to buy up front.  I have meanwhile gotten
a reasonable number of orders, and the first production run is already 70%
subscribed.  I will probably kick off a larger run as soon as I get units
from this one.


*****************************************************************
Embed Inc, embedded system specialists in Littleton Massachusetts
(978) 742-9014, http://www.embedinc.com
____________________________________________

2004\12\22@085649 by Wouter van Ooijen

face picon face
> All the software is command line based.  
> A GUI is a lot
> more work to write, I personally find them irritating, and
> isn't needed for the ProProg.

I agree with you, but a lot of Wisp628 users seem to prefer a GUI. From
the start I made the protocol, software and firmware available, which
has prompted IIRC 3 different people to develop alternate (GUI)
sotfware. You could expect the same thing to happen. But the downside is
that I occasionally get questions about the error messages from those
programs I did not write :(

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu


____________________________________________

2004\12\22@100701 by Robert Young

picon face


> Bob Ammerman wrote:
> > Perhaps rather than having the kitting done by the firm you got a quote
> > from it could be done by an enterprising PIClister? Said PIClister
> > could also handle the packaging/mailing etc.
>
> OK, any takers?

I can look into getting them made up in small batches, say between 20 and 50
at a time.

I'll go through the BOM and cross reference to parts I already order in
quantity.  I will generate an estimate for you based on:

1) labor (assembly & packing)
2) shipping supplies (box, pink anti-static bag, bubble wrap, etc)
3) parts less the cost of the circuit board including the recommended
wall-wort.

Because this is the end of the year and I'm trying to get other tasks
finished and booked for 2004, a quote may not be ready for you until after
January 1, 2005.

Robert Young
YR Consulting
EraseMErwyoungspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTieee.org

{Quote hidden}

for
> the ProProg.  Both programmers use the same host software, and frankly the
> ProProg being a real for-profit product is the driving factor.  The
EasyProg
{Quote hidden}

> ______________________________________________

2004\12\22@113508 by jrem

picon face
<snip>
>
> The ProProg *only* does in-circuit programming.  This time I don't
> know how
> the web page could be clearer.  The very first sentence starts "The
> ProProg(tm) is an industrial strength in-circuit PIC programmer"

<snip>

okay, I need to read up on ICD, ICE, and ICSP.

Another thing you might look at is having phanderson.com retail the
boards and kits for you, he moves a lot of stuff on the cheap (i.e.,
low cost) mostly to support the EE department at Morgan State
University.  I've bought stuff from him,
http://www.phanderson.com/o_stats.html shows his shipments.  Mostly
hobby folks and educators, I believe.


               
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2004\12\22@123021 by Morgan Olsson

flavicon
face
Olin Lathrop 13:51 2004-12-22:
>The wall wart is surprisingly cheap.  It costs $1.52 in quantities of only
>10.

Still expensive if it cost 10$ more shipping.  Shipping light and thin goods as letter is much cheaper than parcel.  And i hate the idea of shipping iron blocks around the world.

>This is one reason I picked that particular wall wart.  I figured that
>having an option to remove it would cost me more in logistics than to just
>pay for it.  However, I haven't figured out what to do about countries that
>don't have US compatible wall power.  Maybe include a 1.3mm plug instead so
>that they can wire up easily to their own wall wart or other power supply.

One idea:

Almost every modem i have seen are supplied by 9VAC from their wall-wart.  So there are wall warts all over the world in bunches, and thye are also found cheap in scrap market.

So maybe you can make it compatible with 9-12V AC and DC and it can be supplied by th eworlds most commom wall wart voltage, and also by 9V battery.

>Which countries have US compatible wall power?  I know the US and Canada are
>the same, and I think Mexico too, and maybe Japan, but after that I have no
>idea.

At a temporary job in Taiwan i observed the USA style, but beware the outlets paced close to windows are supplied 220V.  Learned it the hard way - the soldering iron got *hot* !!


--
Morgan Olsson, Kivik, Sweden

____________________________________________

2004\12\22@152306 by Jose Da Silva

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face
On Wednesday 22 December 2004 04:51 am, Olin Lathrop wrote:
> Jose Da Silva wrote:
> > You might want to leave out the wall wart since it is bulky, pushes up
> > shipping rates, and something anyone could buy cheap/easily locally
>
> The wall wart is surprisingly cheap.  It costs $1.52 in quantities of only
> 10.  This is one reason I picked that particular wall wart.  I figured
> that having an option to remove it would cost me more in logistics than to
> just pay for it.  However, I haven't figured out what to do about
> countries that don't have US compatible wall power.  Maybe include a 1.3mm
> plug instead so that they can wire up easily to their own wall wart or
> other power supply.

The 1.3mm plug is a good idea, and keep the wall warts for local projects.
And the suggestion of a 3x30cm mailslot made sense too. I remember seeing
some packages getting checked with a slot device at the mail office.

> Which countries have US compatible wall power?  I know the US and Canada
> are the same, and I think Mexico too, and maybe Japan, but after that I
> have no idea.

In Europe, you will have more than 1 type of plug.
I typed in travel adapters and found this on the 1st try:
http://www.lashen.com/vendors/TRV/Default.asp
You may want to scroll through the pictures to get an idea.

http://www.stayonline.com/destinations/index.htm has a map.
A random click on Cook Islands showed an Australian adapter ???
(Appears you don't need to go far to start seeing things change from North
American standards).

{Quote hidden}

Reasonable quantity prices may be $25, but most hobbyists only need 1.
Many hobbyists may not appreciate the time involved or the attention to
details and think most things are free or weekend projects, so it is worth
pointing that out. After they have built themselves a parallel port
programmer or some other shakey device sourcing the parts themselves, etc,
etc, they may appreciate what you have done then, but 1st they got to learn
for themselves.
You can't please everybody, so don't be worried about it. If you are
comfortable with $60, then go with $60. Some people will probably buy the
kit if they measure their time in $$$ figures, it may not be worth the
hassle of time and shipping trying to hunt down all the items to save a buck
or two. On the other hand, people who need to save money will go for the
board, or possibly even build something of their own using a perfboard or
worse (I once built a circuit on stiff cardboard and scrounged parts as a
student with little cash).

> This
> is the thing a lot of hobbyists don't seem to get.  Just because something
> is conceptually simple doesn't mean there isn't substantial work envolved
> in realizing it.

There are those that think this is a weekend project and don't yet appreciate
the time involved due to lack of experience, and then there are those that
just don't respect "period" and will attempt theft.
I'm more or less in the same boat as you are here, about ready to launch some
software and will be watching this thread for suggestions.
____________________________________________

2004\12\22@153524 by olin_piclist

face picon face
Morgan Olsson wrote:
> Almost every modem i have seen are supplied by 9VAC from their
> wall-wart.  So there are wall warts all over the world in bunches, and
> thye are also found cheap in scrap market.
>
> So maybe you can make it compatible with 9-12V AC and DC and it can be
> supplied by th eworlds most commom wall wart voltage, and also by 9V
> battery.

That would be nice from the wall wart point of view, but would require
significant design changes.  The EasyProg is a low cost product and doesn't
have a switching power supply.  The unregulated DC voltage needs to be at
least around 17V.  All other voltages are linearly regulated down from that,
which includes the 13V programming voltage.  A boost switcher would be
required if only a lower voltage was available.


*****************************************************************
Embed Inc, embedded system specialists in Littleton Massachusetts
(978) 742-9014, http://www.embedinc.com
____________________________________________

2004\12\22@155253 by Ben Hencke

picon face
On Tue, 21 Dec 2004 19:08:39 -0500, Olin Lathrop
<olin_piclistspamspam_OUTembedinc.com> wrote:
> I have received quotes on getting individual complete kits for the EasyProg
> PIC programmer (http://www.embedinc.com/easyprog).  The question now is do
> you think hobbyists would buy them at $59 plus shipping?  This would include
> the board and all the parts so you could build your own unit, plus the wall
> wart and serial cable - truly all parts you need for an operational unit.

I would probably buy one at that price point, but only because I have
already had the hassle of dealing with some crummy DIY programmers and
old software.

The one thing I have noticed missing in the PIC programmer market is a
variably assembled programmer. If you offer boards, kit, base
assembled, and full package (everything+) I think you will reach the
most people and offer something that is missing in the market. I would
keep the wall wart separate/optional and design the circuit to be very
tolerant of reverse polarity and voltage ranges (maybe you already do
this). A lot of people enjoy making their own tools from design or
bare board, but having the option of buying kit or assembled is good
too.

Keep in mind that marketing to the low end of the hobbyist market, you
will have a lot of really stupid newbie tech support questions. You
might want to get a web forum going so they can answer their own
questions.

I think compatibility with the newer parts variants, or pretty much
all recent PICs is a must have. It would be best to at least match
what Mchip is offering for samples.

Is the programmer software open source? I think this would also be a
great feature that would help others keep the devices up-to-date and
maybe add GUIs and integrate with MLAB, etc.

- Ben
____________________________________________

2004\12\22@182705 by olin_piclist

face picon face
Ben Hencke wrote:
> I would probably buy one at that price point, but only because I have
> already had the hassle of dealing with some crummy DIY programmers and
> old software.

Would it have been possible at all to entice you to buy a $59 kit before you
had this experience?  Or would all the talk about less hassle, tested
professional design, quality circuit board, cheaper in the long run, blah
blah blah, have all just sounded like a bunch of marketing hype?  Or would
you have believed that but figured you could do it cheaper yourself anyway?
What should I say to people in that position, or is nothing I'm going to say
make a difference anyway?  Seriously, I'm really trying to understand the
hobbyist thinking.

> The one thing I have noticed missing in the PIC programmer market is a
> variably assembled programmer. If you offer boards, kit, base
> assembled, and full package (everything+) I think you will reach the
> most people and offer something that is missing in the market.

Keep in mind that each variant costs time and effort to put together and
package in a hobbyist friendly way.  This is not as cheap as it may sound.
I'm already doing bare boards and will be doing full kits shortly.  The
responses I got on this list today gave me the confidence to order 50 kits.
These should be available for purchase in early January.  I'm also thinking
about fully assembled units in surface mount, but I'm going to wait to see
how the kit does first.  I don't know about partial kits.  This is starting
to sound like a lot of logistics at my end.  What parts would you want to
see left out?

> I would
> keep the wall wart separate/optional and design the circuit to be very
> tolerant of reverse polarity and voltage ranges (maybe you already do
> this).

There is a full wave bridge immediately after the power jack, so AC or DC of
any polarity works fine.

> Keep in mind that marketing to the low end of the hobbyist market, you
> will have a lot of really stupid newbie tech support questions. You
> might want to get a web forum going so they can answer their own
> questions.

So far I've explicitly said the product is not supported, partly to get
around these issues.  For now I'm talking about it here on the PIClist, but
in the long run it's not fair to hijack the PIClist to support a commercial
product.

I'll have to look into Yahoo forums, email lists, and the like.  Any
suggestions?

> I think compatibility with the newer parts variants, or pretty much
> all recent PICs is a must have. It would be best to at least match
> what Mchip is offering for samples.

Yes of course, there is only the small matter of finding the time to do it
all on the side.  Unless this thing takes off a lot more than I expect, it
will always be a side project.

> Is the programmer software open source? I think this would also be a
> great feature that would help others keep the devices up-to-date and
> maybe add GUIs and integrate with MLAB, etc.

Sure.  Add a GUI and any features you like.  All the software and firmware
source code is available at http://www.embedinc.com/picprg/sw.htm.


*****************************************************************
Embed Inc, embedded system specialists in Littleton Massachusetts
(978) 742-9014, http://www.embedinc.com
____________________________________________

2004\12\22@212230 by John J. McDonough

flavicon
face
----- Original Message -----
From: "Olin Lathrop" <@spam@olin_piclistKILLspamspamembedinc.com>
Subject: Re: [PIC]: PIC programmer pricing?


> What should I say to people in that position, or is nothing I'm going to
say
> make a difference anyway?  Seriously, I'm really trying to understand the
> hobbyist thinking.

Olin

I probably have some of the hobbyist perspective.  From my point of view, it
is generally preferable to build it myself, even if I'm not going to save a
lot of money.  There is a certain pride in using tools that you have hand
crafted, and there is a strong desire to understand it.  Building doesn't
always lead to the understanding you would like, but at least it heads in
that direction.

Now, sometimes, I would go out and buy something simply because it can save
some hassle.  Power supplies, for example, are pretty easy things to build.
But my supply here is a big, expensive, commercial job that sits in the
corner and pumps out 13.8 volts day in, day out, no questions asked.  I just
didn't want to deal with the hassle, and I saw little learning value in
building a supply.

My situation on PIC programmers is a little different.  I actually have
three here.  One is a Covington programmer, built entirely from scratch.
That was my primary programmer for years, and frankly, I never saw a need to
change it.  It is ugly, but it has been reliable.

The other two are PIC-ELs.  One, a prototype, and the other a production
model.  Since I was involved in the design of the PIC-EL, of course I had to
have one of each.  Since the programmer in that case is integral with the
test circuit, they are the ones I use the most right now, simply because
mostly I'm working on the Elmer 160 course.  Without that course, I would
have been happily using the Covington programmer.

I've actually been toying with the idea of getting a Wisp, mostly to get
away from the port dependencies.  But also because it's a very popular
programmer, and I feel like I ought to have some experience with it.  For
me, the price isn't much of a barrier, but I can't say that is the same for
most other hobbyists.  But I've been toying with that idea for months now
and still haven't moved off dead center.  Another hobbyist I work with a lot
probably wouldn't consider a programmer as expensive as a Wisp.

As you can see, the rationale can be pretty varied.

--McD


____________________________________________

2004\12\22@225608 by Chen Xiao Fan

face
flavicon
face
For the power supply issue, I think there is an easy answer.
You can have a version in the USA/Canada and bundle the
power supply. Another version will be without the power supply.

My guess is that most of the buyer will be from USA though.
It may be a better idea to sell out of USA through an
agent and the agent can deal with the supply issue.

Xiaofan

{Quote hidden}

that,
>which includes the 13V programming voltage.  A boost switcher would be
>required if only a lower voltage was available.
>
>
____________________________________________

2004\12\23@043523 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>A random click on Cook Islands showed
>an Australian adapter ???

That would be correct. Australia, New Zealand and portions of SE Asia (we
came across them in Southern China) use the same mains plug. 230V 50Hz is
the relevant supply.

____________________________________________

2004\12\23@044444 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>So far I've explicitly said the product is
>not supported, partly to get around these
>issues.  For now I'm talking about it here
>on the PIClist, but in the long run it's not
>fair to hijack the PIClist to support a
>commercial product.
>
>I'll have to look into Yahoo forums, email
>lists, and the like.  Any suggestions?

Have an FAQ list on a separate page on your web site (after all they will
know about the web site to order it, won't they?). This way you can point
them at a stock answer to a particular problem that keeps coming up. Have a
special email link on the FAQ page for questions they cannot find an answer
to, which goes to a special mail folder you filter such requests into. By
having an obfuscated email address you should be able to keep out the
spammers from harvesting it.

____________________________________________

2004\12\23@063916 by Morgan Olsson

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Olin Lathrop 21:34 2004-12-22:
>Morgan Olsson wrote:
>>Almost every modem i have seen are supplied by 9VAC from their
>>wall-wart.  So there are wall warts all over the world in bunches, and
>>thye are also found cheap in scrap market.
>>
>>So maybe you can make it compatible with 9-12V AC and DC and it can be
>>supplied by th eworlds most commom wall wart voltage, and also by 9V
>>battery.
>
>That would be nice from the wall wart point of view, but would require
>significant design changes.  The EasyProg is a low cost product and doesn't
>have a switching power supply.  The unregulated DC voltage needs to be at
>least around 17V.  All other voltages are linearly regulated down from that,
>which includes the 13V programming voltage.  A boost switcher would be
>required if only a lower voltage was available.

OK... well for 9VAC wall wart i have used this:
Instead of full bridge and a cap, use two anti half bridges and two caps:

     ,-->|---o-----O +
     |       | +
     |      ===
     |       |     Unregulated 20V, or 0-10-20V or +/- 10V however you use it
O------------o----O  Use this middle out to a 7805 for 5V for low heat,  
     |       | +    + out above for higher voltages, and minus below as GND.
9VAC  |      ===
     |       |
O----o--|<---o-----O -




Else this
http://www.stayonline.com/acgrounded/4681.asp
connects almost everywhere, but you then need a switching wall wart capeable of 110 to 240V input.



>*****************************************************************
>Embed Inc, embedded system specialists in Littleton Massachusetts
>(978) 742-9014, http://www.embedinc.com
>_____________________________________________

2004\12\23@064437 by Peter L. Peres

picon face


On Wed, 22 Dec 2004, Olin Lathrop wrote:

> Which countries have US compatible wall power?  I know the US and Canada are
> the same, and I think Mexico too, and maybe Japan, but after that I have no
> idea.

US, Canada, Japan and some parts of South America and the Pacific use
110V (I also think that a few countries in Africa do that). Almost
everyone else uses 220V with a bewildering variety of power plugs.
Additionally, running a 60Hz tightly dimensioned transformer at 50Hz
will make it run much hotter than normal. If for no other reason than
compliance issues (like avoiding to start a fire at the customer's
premises if he shorts something out throroughly), I would leave the wall
wart out. Wall warts are available everywhere. I would also put a
rectifier bridge at the input of the circuit to make it insensible to
polarity, and be prepared to work with grossly unfiltered power
(perhaps adding my own cap after the bridge mentioned above). A cheap
wall wart will only have a 470uF filter cap (can be as low as 220uF on
some low power ones).

$0.02
Peter
____________________________________________

2004\12\23@080750 by olin_piclist

face picon face
Chen Xiao Fan wrote:
> For the power supply issue, I think there is an easy answer.
> You can have a version in the USA/Canada and bundle the
> power supply. Another version will be without the power supply.

Yeah, I looked around and there are just way too many domestic power
standards.  I think I'll sell a version with the US compatible wall wart,
and a version without a wall wart but throw in a 1.3mm plug so that the user
can wire up his own power source without hacking up the board.

> My guess is that most of the buyer will be from USA though.

I thought that would be the case too, but about half the bare boards were
sold outside the US.

> It may be a better idea to sell out of USA through an
> agent and the agent can deal with the supply issue.

I'm looking into various alternatives, including that one.


*****************************************************************
Embed Inc, embedded system specialists in Littleton Massachusetts
(978) 742-9014, http://www.embedinc.com
____________________________________________

2004\12\23@084327 by Charles Rogers

flavicon
face



> Bob Ammerman wrote:
>> Perhaps rather than having the kitting done by the firm you got a quote
>> from it could be done by an enterprising PIClister? Said PIClister
>> could also handle the packaging/mailing etc.
>
> OK, any takers?
>

I'm an enterprising PIClister and live in NE Oklahoma, maby this would be
a good area to ship from, at least fairly central to all of USA.  Am also
retired with plenty of time for things like this, that is if you really
meant
*OK, any takers?*

CR


2004\12\23@094624 by Alan B. Pearce

face picon face
>without a wall wart but throw in a 1.3mm plug

Not sure what you mean with this plug. I would have thought the 2.5mm
version of the plug that Microchip supply on the ICD and Picstart Plus would
be the most universal.

2004\12\23@104914 by olin_piclist

face picon face
Charles Rogers wrote:
>>> Perhaps rather than having the kitting done by the firm you got a
>>> quote from it could be done by an enterprising PIClister? Said
>>> PIClister could also handle the packaging/mailing etc.
>>
>> OK, any takers?
>>
>
> I'm an enterprising PIClister and live in NE Oklahoma, maby this would
> be a good area to ship from, at least fairly central to all of USA.  Am
> also retired with plenty of time for things like this, that is if you
> really meant
> *OK, any takers?*

Others have responded also, and it seems I'm getting a very reasonable price
from my local source.  They will be putting together individual kits mostly
ready to send out for a cost to me of $31/kit in quantities of 50.  So far
other quotes have been the same or even a bit higher.  I have already
ordered the first 50 and will be selling those directly.  Unless a problem
is uncovered with this or someone else can give me a significantly better
price (several dollars lower), I'll probably just stick to this and do it
all here.


*****************************************************************
Embed Inc, embedded system specialists in Littleton Massachusetts
(978) 742-9014, http://www.embedinc.com

2004\12\23@105851 by olin_piclist

face picon face
Alan B. Pearce wrote:
>> without a wall wart but throw in a 1.3mm plug
>
> Not sure what you mean with this plug. I would have thought the 2.5mm
> version of the plug that Microchip supply on the ICD and Picstart Plus
> would be the most universal.

2.5mm does seem to be more common.  I chose 1.3mm for the EasyProg primarily
because that's what comes on the particular wall wart I chose for it.  And I
chose that wall wart because it is in the right voltage range and because it
is significantly cheaper than just about every other wall wart I've seen.

This is all fine for those with US power.  There is no reason for them to
care about 1.3mm versus anything else if the appropriate wall wart is
included.  Since 1.3mm is less common than other sizes, like 2.5mm, I will
include a bare plug in the non-US version.  This plug is intended for the
end user to solder their own wires to it.  It wouldn't take anyone familiar
with a soldering iron more than a couple of minutes to cut the plug off of
whatever wall wart (or any source of power) they want to use for the
EasyProg and attach the supplied 1.3mm plug instead.  If someone already has
or can get an appropriate wall wart with 1.3mm plug, then they end up with
an extra 1.3mm plug.  It's cheap enough that it's not worth making yet
another version of the kit without the plug.


*****************************************************************
Embed Inc, embedded system specialists in Littleton Massachusetts
(978) 742-9014, http://www.embedinc.com

2004\12\24@050813 by Howard Winter

face
flavicon
picon face
Olin,

On Wed, 22 Dec 2004 07:51:47 -0500, Olin Lathrop wrote:

> The wall wart is surprisingly cheap.  It costs $1.52 in quantities of only 10.  
> This is one reason I picked that particular wall wart.  
Sadly that doesn't help those of us not in North America - I have been looking for a 15VAC supply here, and they are rather rare - 99% of the wall-warts are DC output, and 15V isn't one that's well covered.  I tried a 9-0-9 250mA transformer that I had handy, but the DC ending up on the 7805 measured 31V!  I eventually settled on a large wall-wart that has switchable taps, 15V being the highest.  For other Brits: it's N57AT from Maplin, and costs £7.99 (say 10x the price you mentioned above, at the current exchange rate).  
How close does the unregulated DC have to be to 17V?  With no chips on the board and the PSU set to 15V it's reading 22.5V.

>I figured that
> having an option to remove it would cost me more in logistics than to just
> pay for it.  However, I haven't figured out what to do about countries that
> don't have US compatible wall power.  Maybe include a 1.3mm plug instead so
> that they can wire up easily to their own wall wart or other power supply.

That sounds like a good move - 1.3mm isn't that common and having it handy would be a Good Thing.

> Which countries have US compatible wall power?  I know the US and Canada are
> the same, and I think Mexico too, and maybe Japan, but after that I have no idea.

Basically North America plus Taiwan, and Japan sort-of.  I believe Japan uses the same connector, but the voltage may be anywhere from 100V to 200V - sites I've looked at are a little unclear on this.  The best solution for a single international-compatible power supply is one that accepts 100-240V, 50 or 60Hz and has an IEC 320 socket ("Kettle lead") so the user just has to add a cable to fit their own wall-socket.  Unfortunately they tend to be switched-mode devices and you won't get one of these for $1.52!  
{Quote hidden}

It never ceases to amaze me how much trouble people will go to to save a tiny amount of money - part of the great Consumer Boom I suppose!  Some seem to think that the design effort should be free... a bit like saying that the aircraft was going there anyway, so why should I have to pay the airfare?  :-)

Merry Christmas!


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England

2004\12\24@201213 by olin_piclist

face picon face
Howard Winter wrote:
> Sadly that doesn't help those of us not in North America - I have
> been looking for a 15VAC supply here, and
> they are rather rare - 99% of the wall-warts are DC output, and 15V
> isn't one that's well covered.  I tried a
> 9-0-9 250mA transformer that I had handy, but the DC ending up on the
> 7805 measured 31V!  I eventually settled
> on a large wall-wart that has switchable taps, 15V being the highest.
> For other Brits: it's N57AT from
> Maplin, and costs £7.99 (say 10x the price you mentioned above, at
> the current exchange rate).

It doesn't have to be an AC wall wart.  There is a full wave bridge
immediately after the power jack, and the supply circuitry doesn't rely on
the voltage having an AC component (like a charge pump design might).  The
voltage after the full wave bridge needs to be 17-29V if I remember right.
Add about 1.5V to that to account for the diodes and that is the DC input
range.

> How close does the unregulated DC have to be to 17V?  With no chips
> on the board and the PSU set to 15V it's
> reading 22.5V.

I just went back and checked the ancient scrolls (from October 2003) and the
absolute min/max after the full wave bridge is 15.2 to 32.0 volts at 0 to
150mA.  Absolute min/max means just that.  Any higher and something may be
permanently damaged, any lower and it may not work right.  With the
recommended wall wart and normal US power this has always been 20-25 volts
whenever I've measured it.

So as long as your wall wart can keep the voltage in that range **at all
times**, the unit should work fine.


*****************************************************************
Embed Inc, embedded system specialists in Littleton Massachusetts
(978) 742-9014, http://www.embedinc.co

2004\12\27@155405 by Ben Hencke

picon face
> Would it have been possible at all to entice you to buy a $59 kit before you
> had this experience?  Or would all the talk about less hassle, tested
> professional design, quality circuit board, cheaper in the long run, blah
> blah blah, have all just sounded like a bunch of marketing hype?  Or would

Maybe. I had considered many kits (with "assembled" options) and none
of them seemed very good. They all seemed like they would not support
the chips I was starting out with or required purchasing some other
expensive software. This is what enticed me to build my own from free
designs in the first place.


> you have believed that but figured you could do it cheaper yourself anyway?

Yes, always. :-)
I think I spent less than $10 total on both of the programmers I
built. One didn't work, the other did. Granted, I scavenged a bunch of
stuff like some sockets, connectors, some basic parts, but didn't
spend money on more than a chip or two and a perf board and a parallel
cable.

> What should I say to people in that position, or is nothing I'm going to say
> make a difference anyway?  Seriously, I'm really trying to understand the
> hobbyist thinking.

I think the variably build programmer would appeal. I would have
bought your kit if I knew that it:

1. Worked with my laptop (ie JDM or other serial port powered are a no-go).
2. Worked with the chips I had. At the time this included a 16f84, 16f628A
3. Could buy the board/design for cheap and use my parts. I never saw
a reason to pay out the nose for some resistors and crap that many
kits sellers gouge people for (I am not suggesting that you are
gouging people or that kit sellers shouldn't make a living, just
giving my perspective on this).
4. Failing that could buy your kit parts. Standard hobbyists will have
a 7805, transistors, resistors, and an assortment of caps. If it had a
hard to find parts or a pre-programmed PIC, then I would need to buy
the full kit. For some reason, I was afraid of PIC programmers that
needed a pre-programmed PIC.
5. Failing that could buy an assembled version that had some kind of
basic DOA warranty.

> Keep in mind that each variant costs time and effort to put together and
> package in a hobbyist friendly way.  This is not as cheap as it may sound.

I can see how it would be a PITA. Maybe you can make a shopping cart
with individual items and let the user pick the package:

1. Board + plans/docs. Show a listing of the parts required.
2. Parts for above, no wall wart
3. wall wart for above
4. Assembled + tested version of above
5. less expensive SMT assembled equivalent. (optional)
6. CD (optional) with software + firmware + source + pdf docs + your
pic library + examples + etc. Something like this would take a lot of
time to put together but would be a godsend for any newbie. I see this
kind of "starter" cd selling really well with many newbie packages in
other technical hobbies.

Then make it clear that they will need #1, #2, and #3 unless they
already have some of them at home. Paypal has a decent free shopping
cart, Yahoo stores are ok, but have fees.


> There is a full wave bridge immediately after the power jack, so AC or DC of
> any polarity works fine.

Sweet. Very nice for newbies, you could prominently mention this in
the description too.

>
> So far I've explicitly said the product is not supported, partly to get
> around these issues.  For now I'm talking about it here on the PIClist, but
> in the long run it's not fair to hijack the PIClist to support a commercial
> product.

I would not have bought a zero support product of this kind, even if
it was free. It would at least need to have some kind of support forum
or semi-active user community.


> I'll have to look into Yahoo forums, email lists, and the like.  Any
> suggestions?

Not at the moment, but those look like good places to start. You might
want to check sf.net for some OSS versions that you could host.


> Sure.  Add a GUI and any features you like.  All the software and firmware
> source code is available at http://www.embedinc.com/picprg/sw.htm.

Cool! You might consider putting this on a large OSS site like sf.net
as that could get some developer interest as well as some free
publicity.

I hope these suggestions are helpful. :-) I may end up ordering one for myself.
Best of luck,
 Ben

2004\12\29@031535 by Chen Xiao Fan

face
flavicon
face
A very interesting reply and sure it is helpful for those who
want to build a hobby programmer. Just a few comments.

1) On one hand, serial port is dieing (or is it?). On the other
hand, this leaves you only the option of USB (parallel port
is also dieing and more so than the serial port) and USB based
programmer does required an MCU and the firmware and PC host
software are more complicated. This contradicts point 4.

Okay maybe you only mean drawing power from the serial port
by "serial port powered" but not using serial port. Then
there is no contradiction.

Still it is an interesting question to use USB or serial port.
Wisp 628 and EasyProg are using serial port. Some of the
Kitsrus kits and Pickit 1 are using USB. I am leaning toward
USB. For example, I will only use ICD2 with USB even though
RS232 is an option.

2) Of course. It is hard to keep up with Microchip's new chips.
However it is essential to support some popular chips. It is
another issue to define what are the popular chips though. :)

3) I think EasyProg gives you the option to just buy the PCB.
However I think most people would like to have all the parts
available as a kit.

4) I think the better flexible PIC programmers will have a
PIC inside. And I think the ZIF may belong to the "hard
to find part" and it is said to be quite expensive. Maybe
that is because I seldom use DIP parts.

5) I always think a pre-assembled version is more appropriate but
I am not a hobbyist so I may underestimate the pleasure of
actually building a programmer.

By the way, what is the exact meaning of being an 'hobbyist'?


Xiaofan

{Quote hidden}

2004\12\29@071045 by Jan-Erik Soderholm

face picon face
Hi.
It's been a long thread, but I can't resist... :-)


Chen Xiao Fan wrote :

[snipped long part about COM- vs. USB-port...]

> Still it is an interesting question to use USB or serial port.

Not realy. I've used my Wisp628 (a "serial" programmer) using
the USB port only for a long time...

Any well built serial programmer should be able to use any of the
cheap USB->RS232 converters out there. A non-issue...

> 3) I think EasyProg gives you the option to just buy the PCB.
> However I think most people would like to have all the parts
> available as a kit.

Well, as has been mentioned in other treads, maybe the major
"problem" with the EasyProg is that Olin selected to use rather
odd resistor values (from a hobbyists view, not for the pro !).
So a kit (with *at least* the resistors) is, IMHO, the only way to
to get more then just a few of them sold. Again, IMHO...

> 4) I think the better flexible PIC programmers will have a
> PIC inside.

Of course ! The time of the directly DOS-controlled, PC-software-
timed programmers is gone.

> And I think the ZIF may belong to the "hard
> to find part" and it is said to be quite expensive. Maybe
> that is because I seldom use DIP parts.

With regard to the EasyProg, you could just as well build it
without the ZIP and use the ISCP connector instead. After
all, most/many hobbyist project lives on a breadboard where
the software and hardware often are developed together
at the sma time.

> 5) I always think a pre-assembled version is more appropriate but
> I am not a hobbyist so I may underestimate the pleasure of
> actually building a programmer.

IMHO, the programmer is just a tool, just as the hammer and saw
are just tools when doing construction work on my house.

> By the way, what is the exact meaning of being an 'hobbyist'?

Non-profit ? But then, what is "profit" ?
Done of spare time ?, what is "spare time" ?

Bets Regards,
Jan-Erik.



2004\12\29@081020 by olin_piclist

face picon face
Chen Xiao Fan wrote:
> 1) On one hand, serial port is dieing (or is it?). On the other
> hand, this leaves you only the option of USB (parallel port
> is also dieing and more so than the serial port) and USB based
> programmer does required an MCU and the firmware and PC host
> software are more complicated.

Serial ports are no longer available on many new systems, particularly
laptops.  However, serial ports are still relatively cheap and accessible to
end users via USB to serial port adapters.  While USB is nicer for the end
user, serial port, via a USB adapter if necessary, is not that big a deal.
The downside to USB is that it costs more in hardware, requires
significantly more development, and the cost to entry is such that it is
prohibitive for many small operations.  I think we will see serial ports
continue to be used for small volume and one-off devices for quite some
time.

Things have gotten a bit better recently with the introduction of the full
speed USB 18F PICs.  We finally now have a decent microcontroller that can
do full speed USB with a reasonable and well supported development
environment.  Now if the USB organization would only lighten up a little for
small players, USB might finally fulfill its original promise.

> Okay maybe you only mean drawing power from the serial port
> by "serial port powered" but not using serial port. Then
> there is no contradiction.

I think that relying on power from a serial port for a production PIC
programmer is a really bad idea.  It might work, maybe even most of the
time.

> By the way, what is the exact meaning of being an 'hobbyist'?

Someone who is engaging in a hobby activity.  A hobby is something you do
because you want to, for enjoyment.  This is something you are not expecting
to make money from (that would make it a professional activity).  In fact it
is usually something you spend money on, but only limited amounts because
you have other things you have to spend the money on, like food, taxes, the
mortgage, gas for the car to get to your real paying job, etc.  Since you
don't get paid for hobby activities and it's something you enjoy, most
hobbyists count their time worth very little in a pure economic sense.  This
makes it attractive to buy a $20 item and spend 4 hours making it work, as
apposed to buying a $100 item that works out of the box like you would in a
commercial enterprise.


*****************************************************************
Embed Inc, embedded system specialists in Littleton Massachusetts
(978) 742-9014, http://www.embedinc.com

2004\12\29@084058 by Charles Rogers

flavicon
face

Jan-Erik wrote:
>
> Any well built serial programmer should be able to use any of the
> cheap USB->RS232 converters out there. A non-issue.


> Bets Regards
> Jan-Erik.

I have made an extensive search for USB<=> Serial converters and
the price seems to begin at US$40. and goes up to about US$60.
If you can beat that price, let me know.

CR

2004\12\29@105254 by Spehro Pefhany

picon face
At 07:40 AM 12/29/2004 -0600, you wrote:

>Jan-Erik wrote:
>>Any well built serial programmer should be able to use any of the
>>cheap USB->RS232 converters out there. A non-issue.
>
>
>>Bets Regards
>>Jan-Erik.
>
>I have made an extensive search for USB<=> Serial converters and
>the price seems to begin at US$40. and goes up to about US$60.
>If you can beat that price, let me know.
>
>CR

You can't have looked very hard (or effectively, anyhow). I found one
for $9.89 (single quantity, $9.60 in 10's) pretty quickly, and lots for
$12-$15). Try again.

Best regards,

Spehro Pefhany --"it's the network..."            "The Journey is the reward"
spamBeGonespeffspamBeGonespaminterlog.com             Info for manufacturers: http://www.trexon.com
Embedded software/hardware/analog  Info for designers:  http://www.speff.com




2004\12\29@112602 by Jan-Erik Soderholm

face picon face
Charles Rogers wrote :

> Jan-Erik wrote:
> >
> > Any well built serial programmer should be able to use any of the
> > cheap USB->RS232 converters out there. A non-issue.
>
>
> > Bets Regards
> > Jan-Erik.
>
> I have made an extensive search for USB<=> Serial converters and
> the price seems to begin at US$40. and goes up to about US$60.
> If you can beat that price, let me know.
>
> CR

The one I'm using was 249 SEK (aprox $37 USD) in a shop
down town. Just fine, if you ask me. When I'm not programming
PIC's it works just as well with anything serial...

Here is one on eBay @ $5.99 + $9.89 shipping (US) :
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=6732796422

Here is another on eBay @ $2.85 + $8.50 shipping (worldwide shipping !) :
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=6732153953

Tell me, how "extensive" was your search ?

Jan-Erik.



2004\12\29@113202 by Bob Axtell

face picon face
Like cactus in Arizona, USB <> Serial converters are $20 USD or less
all over the Web. I use two BAFO BF-810's between my Czech ICD2's;
they work flawlessly. I have Win2K systems, but they supply Win98 drivers
for older systems.

--Bob


Jan-Erik Soderholm wrote:

{Quote hidden}

--
Note: Attachments must be sent to
TakeThisOuTattachEraseMEspamspam_OUTengineer.cotse.net, and
MAY delay replies to this message.
       520-219-2363

2004\12\29@123009 by Howard Winter

face
flavicon
picon face
On Wed, 29 Dec 2004 07:40:50 -0600, Charles Rogers wrote:

> I have made an extensive search for USB<=> Serial converters and
> the price seems to begin at US$40. and goes up to about US$60.
> If you can beat that price, let me know.

Well if you don't like using eBay, you can "keep it in the family" by buying from Wouter, for not much more
than US$20:

http://www.voti.nl/shop/p/M-USB-SERIAL-1.html


Cheers,


Howard Winter
St.Albans, England


2004\12\29@131250 by Wouter van Ooijen

face picon face
> By the way, what is the exact meaning of being an 'hobbyist'?

I don't know. I think I don't qualify as a hobbyist any more, but I
certainly did once, yet I can't identify the moment in time I
de-hobbified.

It seems the term is often used by those who earn a living selling
mediocre sotfware, to describe better software that is available for
free.

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu


2004\12\29@131250 by Wouter van Ooijen

face picon face
> I have made an extensive search for USB<=> Serial converters and
> the price seems to begin at US$40. and goes up to about US$60.
> If you can beat that price, let me know.

with pleasure :)

http://www.voti.nl/shop/p/M-USB-SERIAL-1.html

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu


2004\12\29@140334 by Eisermann, Phil [Ridg/CO]

flavicon
face
piclist-bounces@mit.edu wrote:
>> By the way, what is the exact meaning of being an 'hobbyist'?
>
> I don't know. I think I don't qualify as a hobbyist any more, but I
> certainly did once, yet I can't identify the moment in time I
> de-hobbified.

you can still qualify! To me, a 'hobby' is something you do for
fun, in your spare time. I suspect a large percentage of this
list make their living using their hobby. A true hobbyist probably
doesn't have much, if any, formal education or training in
whatever their hobby is. They also tend not to have the high-priced
'professional' tools. The piclist members being an exception.

2004\12\29@142836 by William Chops Westfield

face picon face
>>> By the way, what is the exact meaning of being an 'hobbyist'?

A hobbyist is someone who places the monetary value of the time spent
doing a particular task ("the hobby") at a rate lower than the legal
minimum wage.  In some cases, the monetary value of time is less than
zero (ie the more time it takes, the better.)

BillW

2004\12\29@145850 by olin_piclist

face picon face
Eisermann, Phil [Ridg/CO] wrote:
> I suspect a large percentage of this list make their living
> using their hobby.

But then it's a profession, not a hobby.

*****************************************************************
Embed Inc, embedded system specialists in Littleton Massachusetts
(978) 742-9014, http://www.embedinc.com

2004\12\29@161901 by Eisermann, Phil [Ridg/CO]

flavicon
face
piclist-bounces@mit.edu wrote:
> Eisermann, Phil [Ridg/CO] wrote:
>> I suspect a large percentage of this list make their living
>> using their hobby.
>
> But then it's a profession, not a hobby.
>

Within the official definition, you are correct. I looked it
up in a dictionary, where it specifically says "outside your
occupation"

But what if I build a circuit over the weekend for my personal
use? For example, years ago I had a reef tank that I built some
control circuits for. Is this not the definition of a hobby?

FWIW, I'd buy your EasyProg kit priced at $59 for my weekend
'hobby' even though I have access to a PSII+, ICD2, and a PMII
at work. And I probably have all of the components except the
PCB already. For me, the convenience factor is worth it.

2004\12\29@184248 by William Chops Westfield

face picon face
On Dec 29, 2004, at 1:17 PM, Eisermann, Phil [Ridg/CO] wrote:

>>
>> But then it's a profession, not a hobby.
>>
>
> Within the official definition, you are correct. I looked it
> up in a dictionary, where it specifically says "outside your
> occupation"

Continuing on with opinionated definitions, your "nerds" and "geeks" are
those people whose hobbies are so close to their jobs that "normal"
people can't tell them apart.  I mean, no one does "recreational middle
management" or "recreational accounting" on their weekends, right?
But "recreational programming" is common and frequently
indistinguishable
from professional programming to the masses...

BillW

2004\12\29@191558 by cllow

flavicon
face
Hi,
Anyone have using on china make (serial port)universal programmer ?
http://www.stageran.com/docc/products.html

Regards
Cl low

2004\12\29@200940 by Chen Xiao Fan

face
flavicon
face

There is another option for the USB version. Kitsrus kits use
the USB-to-RS232 bridge chips. Of course it will add to the
cost. However I think the USB 18F PICs may not be so cheap
as well. So I agree there will still lot of serial port
based product.

Speaking of USB PIC 18F, I just start to wonder if there will
be something like PICkit II, Wisp628-II and EasyProg-II using
them. Just my wish though. Judging from AN956B, it seems that
the host software may not need to be changed much by using
CDC profile. Am I correct?

>From Fred Eady's Circuit Cellar Article (August 2003)
"On the other hand, if you want to market a USB-equipped product,
you have to either fork out $2500 per year to join the club
(i.e., USB Implementers Forum) or obtain a USB vender ID
(good for two years) for a measly $1500. Either way, your
product must pass various tests to be certified."

I am not so sure about this. But maybe you can use Microchip's
vendor ID. Silabs has the CP2101/CP2102 and it seems to me
that they say you can use their vendor ID. To omit the standard
confirming test, you may just not put the USB logo on the product.
I am really not so sure about this.

Xiaofan

>Date: Wed, 29 Dec 2004 08:09:51 -0500
>From: RemoveMEolin_piclistspamTakeThisOuTembedinc.com (Olin Lathrop)
>...
>Things have gotten a bit better recently with the introduction of the full
>speed USB 18F PICs.  We finally now have a decent microcontroller that can
>do full speed USB with a reasonable and well supported development
>environment.  Now if the USB organization would only lighten up a little
for
>small players, USB might finally fulfill its original promise.
>...

2004\12\29@220537 by Peter van Hoof

picon face
www.censuspc.com/Merchant2/merchant.mvc?Screen=PROD&Product_Code=AO-UC-320
$14 free shipping
I dont endorse or reccomend this company , I simply dont know
anything about it
You can find more deals like this on http://pricewatch.com

Peter van Hoof


{Original Message removed}

2004\12\30@002319 by David Schmidt

flavicon
face
Here you go, $9.00 each
http://www.acortech.com
click on "Cable/accessories" on the left side, then "serial cable" and
you'll see it.
Great service, cheap USB cables too.  They're in Calif.
Dave

----- Original Message -----
> I have made an extensive search for USB<=> Serial converters and
> the price seems to begin at US$40. and goes up to about US$60.
> If you can beat that price, let me know.

2004\12\30@043017 by Chen Xiao Fan

face
flavicon
face
When you can buy the parts from Mouser/DigiKey/local electronics
market, can you say they are "odd resistor values"? Of course
I still think a ready-made part is better.

I totally agree with Jan that the programmer is just a tool.
So why not spend the money and buy the EasyProg, Wisp628,
Kit 128/182/149c, ICD2, PICStart+ and save the troubles?

By the way, I did not expect so many reply regarding the
definition of hobbyist. Very interesting.

Xiaofan

>Date: Wed, 29 Dec 2004 13:10:44 +0100 (MET)
>From: Jan-Erik Soderholm <jan-erik.soderholmEraseMEspam.....telia.com>
>
>Hi.
>It's been a long thread, but I can't resist... :-)
...
>Well, as has been mentioned in other treads, maybe the major
>"problem" with the EasyProg is that Olin selected to use rather
>odd resistor values (from a hobbyists view, not for the pro !).
>So a kit (with *at least* the resistors) is, IMHO, the only way to
>to get more then just a few of them sold. Again, IMHO...
>...
>IMHO, the programmer is just a tool, just as the hammer and saw
>are just tools when doing construction work on my house.
>...

2004\12\30@063245 by Peter van Hoof

picon face
I could not find it right away, should be Cable/assessories then
USB cable/IEEE 1394 firewire.

Peter

{Original Message removed}

2004\12\30@065920 by Jan-Erik Soderholm

face picon face
Chen Xiao Fan wrote :

> >From: Jan-Erik Soderholm <EraseMEjan-erik.soderholmspamtelia.com>
> >
> > Well, as has been mentioned in other treads, maybe the major
> > "problem" with the EasyProg is that Olin selected to use rather
> > odd resistor values (from a hobbyists view, not for the pro !).


> When you can buy the parts from Mouser/DigiKey/local electronics
> market, can you say they are "odd resistor values"?

Well, I'd guess that most hobbyists (whatever that is :-) ) would
call about 95% of the 100s of 1000s of parts at Digikey as "odd"...
For a Pro' it's probably a little less.

Anyway, this was discussed a lot when the EsyProg's BOM was
released. See the archives. In short, it's an issue of values from
the different E-series (E12, E24, E48, E96). The specific values in
the EasyProg comes from the "higher" series, not commonly
available in the usual "restistor-sets" that a hobbyist might have.
Buying resistors in singles is a mess.

Jan-Erik.



2004\12\30@075157 by Charles Rogers

flavicon
face
.
>
> Here is one on eBay @ $5.99 + $9.89 shipping (US) :
> cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=6732796422
>
> Here is another on eBay @ $2.85 + $8.50 shipping (worldwide shipping !) :
> cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=6732153953
>
> Tell me, how "extensive" was your search ?
>
> Jan-Erik.

My search certainly wasn't as extensive as yours, but I don't use eBay,
for any reason.   Thanks for your reply.

CR

2004\12\30@095101 by Charles Rogers

flavicon
face
Dave Schmidt wrote:


> Here you go, $9.00 each
> http://www.acortech.com
> click on "Cable/accessories" on the left side, then "serial cable" and
> you'll see it.
> Great service, cheap USB cables too.  They're in Calif.
> Dave
>

Thank You for this website !

CR

2004\12\30@182908 by David Schmidt

flavicon
face
No problem.  Hope this isn't too late, but if you enter the coupon
PRICEWATCH you get free shipping for US destinations.
Dave
----- Original Message -----
From: "Charles Rogers" <RemoveMEcrogersEraseMEspamEraseMEgbronline.com>
> Thank You for this website !

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