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Running Small Motors with PIC Microcontrollers Paperback – Jul 23 2009


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About the Author

Harprit Singh Sandhu is the founder of Rhino Robotics, a major manufacturer of both educational robots and small computer numeric controlled machines. He is the author of Making PIC  Microcontroller Instruments and Controllers.


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Amazon.com: 16 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Kudos to Mr. Sandhu Oct. 5 2009
By Stephen M. Tobin - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Running Small Motors with PIC Microcontrollers" fills a void in the literature for those of us who don't write embedded firmware for a living. Sandhu cuts through all the mystery surrounding the PIC, and uses an easy to understand compiler from Micro Engineering Labs called PIC Basic Pro. This makes it especially easy for non-C programmers to get projects up and running quickly. Although only unsigned integer math is supported, it is sufficient for many useful DC servo applications. I was especially interested in running DC motors with quadrature encoders attached to them, and I agree that there is a considerable mystique attached to running these "servo" motors with encoder feedback. What this really means is that a lot of the know-how for doing these things is locked up in trade secrets held by companies who depend on motion control to make a living. Sandhu gives us a rare glimpse into the inner workings of discrete-time (digital) DC servo control on a very practical level, and I for one really appreciate his willingness to share this hard-won knowledge.

"Running Small Motors with PIC Microcontrollers" packs more useful information into 334 pages than any other book I have seen on this subject. It is not overly theoretical, but instead gets right into the nuts and bolts of running PICs and interfacing them to the outside world, including motors. The book covers all the essential details for getting a project up and running, and presents the material in a very logical order, with one concept building on another as the book is read through. The reader follows along by actually doing each "mini-project" using the PIC Basic Pro compiler to run Sandhu's programs on the Micro Engineering Labs "LAB-X1" hardware platform. The editor included with PIC Basic Pro, Micro Code Studio, provides seamless programming at compile time. For this kind of work, where many elements of hardware and software have to work together, there is no substitute for direct experience as the reader gains knowledge. I agree with Sandhu's "learn by doing" philosophy, and I believe this is a trend the engineering schools ought to be following. Pure theory is necessary but not sufficient to build complex machines in the real world.

(4-16-10) In response to a negative review on this site:

I am writing a book to be published this fall entitled "DC Servos: Application and Design with MATLAB". I used the same hardware as Mr. Sandhu, because it was the only platform I could get working in the time I had to publish my book. I tried to reproduce hardware and software from Microchip's application note AN696, but was unable to get it to work in the lab. My philosophy was to only feature hardware and software in the book that I had personally gotten to work on my bench. More specifically:

1-The Lab X-1 board costs $200.00. The USB programmer costs $90.00. The Lab X-1 is a development tool, and many features of it are not used. For making any end product, a new board would normally be designed to eliminate most of the unused parts (like the LCD display and push-buttons).

2-I don't think it's necessarily true that anyone serious about programming PICs should be using C. For those of us who don't know C well (like me), it's a serious barrier to entering the exciting PIC world. As such, I felt shut out of the action until I picked up Sandhu's book. As for the price of the Microchip C compiler, it is free for 60 days on a trial basis. It took me longer than that to optimize my code for chapter 8 of "DC Servos". The price for their full C compiler supporting the PIC 18 series controllers is $495.00. On the other hand, the ME Labs PIC Basic Pro compiler costs $250.00.

3-The pre-packaged amplifier board from Xavien is $45.00 and saves the user the hassle of bread-boarding and heat sinking the LMD18200 IC. If the user prefers to do this, the LMD18200 is available from National Semiconductor as a sample, however the user needs to add charge pump capacitors to the circuit and make sure it is properly heat sunk and properly grounded.

4-The Parallax Basic stamp is a different animal entirely. It uses a Basic interpreter to "compile" code every time the program is run. It is much too slow to handle the servo update rates required for DC motor position control and I don't believe interrupt requests are supported.

I still think this is a great book at a bargain price...highly recommended!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Contains some very good information Dec 15 2011
By Mark R. Hunsberger - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a very good book for someone looking to get started with PIC mcu's. I will warn you up front, the book uses ~$500us in products to get you started driving small motors with PIC's. It uses the PIC BASIC PRO compiler, which is about ~$250us, and an experimenters board from the same company. You do not need to spend this much to get your systems up and running, but the BASIC language is geared for beginners. Microchip gives out their IDE, MPLAB, for free and lite versions of their C language compilers. The term "lite" refers only to the lack of code optimization, other than that they seem to be full featured. I personally use Mplab X, in Linux fedora, and it seems to work fine. Microchip actually sells a couple of inexpensive development tools, most notably the microstick ( ~$25us ), but they also have a new line of arduino compatible devices that can be reflashed to use as a pic platform. You can even breadboard a microcontroller, and just buy an Mplab compatible programmer. The PicKit2 is a very popular model, and somewhat open source, but it will not program Pic32 parts like the PicKit 3 will.

... Now back to the book because that is really what reviews are all about.

I got a lot of great information from reading this book. Even though I program in C, this book offers a great deal of insight as to the algorithms needed to design a motor control system. This book also gives great details about the internal layout of the PIC. I think it is a must read for anyone interested in learning about the PIC microcontroller. I would have easily given it 5 stars, but I do not like the fact it is written around the BASIC language. The C language is really easy to understand, and I think there may actually be less commands, but I could be slightly biased. Once you have learned one language, it is easy to learn more...

I recommend reading "The C Programming Language. second edition" ISBN-10: 0131103628 ISBN-13: 978-0131103627

It is only 274 pages, but there is a lot of great information contained inside, not to mention the book was written by the creator of the language! For a free compiler to use with the examples in the book, I would recommend GCC, which is available at sourceforge.net. A quick web search should put you in the right direction.

Sorry to be so winded, but I just want to make sure you know what you are getting into.

Good luck with the wonderful world of microcontrollers and embedded systems.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Dated but still very usable for 3 types of reader Jan. 4 2012
By Richard Carlson - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
It's 2012 and the book was written in 2009. The company that made the Xavien 2-axis controller the author recommends seems to be focused on the rocket hobby now (the controller is still available from a user at [...])and the LAB-X1 development board is still available at [...] (the website must have changed). Even though you can successfully use any PIC development board and controller, the beginning user should try and start off following the author closely. The more advanced user is probably better off with a more recent development board.

For the beginner this is a good book to start with. The first half of the book is devoted to understanding the PIC MCU's, PICBASIC PRO BASIC, and the getting the LAB-X1 set up. Yes, the first program is blinking LED's. Then the stuff about controlling motors starts (on page 163).

The more experienced user starts here. If you've used a MCU before start here and skim the first parts. At the lower end the user can continue with PICBASIC and work through the examples for each type of motor. This user probably already has his own development board and is using MPLAB.

The advanced user might be disappointed. There's no motor theory or electromagnetic stuff (be grateful). This is a practical book. Turn the motor on, control its speed or position, and brake it. Each type of DC motor (servo, stepper, etc.) is covered. A couple of pages are focused on AC (not really a lot of interest to most users). Even though the examples are in PICBASIC, that's useful as a pseudo language to understand the concepts. Easily implemented in C by the advanced user. This user won't be on the edge of his chair but it's still worth a quick read and as a quick reference.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Two Books in One March 10 2010
By Andrew Fong - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"Running Small Motors with PIC Microcontroller" is a well written book on the subject. I am new to Picbasic programming and Interfacing PIC with small motors but this book combined the two into one. As I go through the book, I appreciate the ease of use of the picbasic language in the applications and got a lot of helpful hints to interfacing motors with the PIC microcontroller. The chapter on "DC Servo Motors With Encoders" is well written with the programs graded with increasing difficulty to guide anyone through the programming of encoder controlled applications.

This book will serve as an excellent introduction to newcomers in programming the pic microcontroller as well as a reference to more seasoned programmers. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the pic microcontroller.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Practical and relevant means to bring PIC, Basic, & Hardware to your useful ends March 3 2011
By RentNetguru - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
While "Running Small Motors with PIC..." by Harprit S. Sandhu is a short book bringing PicBasic Pro to your vision, your project and your will, I think you will find the time spent here well worth your while. One can spend a great deal of time in the company of PIC micro-controllers learning, thinking, doing whether this time is for hobby or professional applications.
Value, that's the message here, especially your time and resources; the PIC series covered runs from the 16F to the 18F relating to experimenting and configuring the LAB-X1 board and the 40 pin microcontrollers which run on it.
High performance dsPIC30 series chipsets are not specifically covered except PIC chips carry over from the earlier chipsets as they move on to the next iteration of chips. So, you can carry over a great deal of information from PIC bread-n-butter 16 and 18 series chips to the dsPIC series from here.
I don't see this book as merely a foray into instant gratification as its BASIC language and a packaged lab environment. After all, one can move on to higher performance dsPIC chips and bring this knowledge with you and other languages, like C. There is lots you can use in BASIC code examples and tweak to your needs or wants. Either as reference or tutorial, I keep this book where I can get to it.


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