Bolt Beginners Board

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Bolt Beginners Board

Postby linker3000 » Sun Jun 08, 2014 10:16 pm

I was looking on everyone's favourite auction site for a simple dev/play board to avoid the need to keep dragging out my breadboard, wiring jumper box, PSU etc. for some simple code testing and learning when I came across the Bolt board, based on the PIC18F2550. I managed to grab a Lite board for $14 shipped to the UK, but that offer seems to have ended :( Fortunately, you can also buy direct from the manufacturers in Mexico.

The Bolt is supported by a software development kit, add-boards and quite a few project ideas including wireless, bluetooth and LCD modules - it looks like a well put together package with good documentation.

"We have over 50 test programs developed in ANSI C and assembly language, video demonstrations and 19 projects ready to be implemented on Bolt 18F2550 system. Several tutorials on special topics of PIC microcontrollers are also available.
"

http://www.puntoflotante.net/punto-flot ... a-site.htm

The board has just arrived with me and I will be having a play. I'd appreciate anyone else's comments - from experience or just looking at what the company behind the board has put together. It looks like a good learner's board.
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Re: Bolt Beginners Board

Postby jtemples » Mon Jun 09, 2014 12:44 am

The 18F2550 is pretty ancient (for a PIC18) and not as full-featured as newer parts, and they've got you working with an obsolete compiler. Be sure to check's the PIC's silicon revision against its errata; there were some very annoying errata back in those days.

Maybe you could drop something like an 18F25K50 into that socket.
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Re: Bolt Beginners Board

Postby linker3000 » Mon Jun 09, 2014 4:52 am

jtemples wrote:The 18F2550 is pretty ancient (for a PIC18) and not as full-featured as newer parts, and they've got you working with an obsolete compiler. Be sure to check's the PIC's silicon revision against its errata; there were some very annoying errata back in those days.

Maybe you could drop something like an 18F25K50 into that socket.


Thanks for the info - worth knowing.
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Re: Bolt Beginners Board

Postby Ian.M » Mon Jun 09, 2014 8:04 am

It also fails to impress me because it has no ICSP/ICD connector and uses RB6 and RB7 on the keypad and LCD interfaces. I try to avoid development boards I cant debug. It seems to be aimed at cheapskate academic courses where they don't want to have to provide each student in the class with a programmer/debugger.

Alternatives:
https://www.olimex.com/Products/PIC/Proto/PIC-USB-4550/ - bare bones 5V PIC18 USB board
http://www.dizzy.co.za/store.asp?category=89&item=437 - PIC18 USB board that accepts Arduino shields and Mikroelektronika 'Click' modules
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Re: Bolt Beginners Board

Postby linker3000 » Mon Jun 09, 2014 9:02 pm

Thanks Ian - that was useful stuff. It's handy to get some insight into what's on the market and their pros/cons. As a beginner it's the nuances like those you mention which are especially valuables - worthy of a topic in its own right? At least the Bolt was only about £8.00, delivered. I was wondering whether I could lash an ICSP/debug link to the board as I do have a PICKit 3.

I was also the beneficiary of a lab clear out at work and have an older generation PICDem 2 Plus and an even older PICDem board (a Tad customized so it needs some rework), which I hope will be useful too for some learning - bearing in mind I am doing all this as a hobby and with no commercial aims/agenda.

Edit: Just spotted the forum: "Evaluation and Demonstration Boards" - maybe this thread should be moved?
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Re: Bolt Beginners Board

Postby Ian.M » Mon Jun 09, 2014 10:56 pm

So tell us about the PICdem board - post a photo of its current condition if possible.

The older PICdem 2 plus is a good board. Neither are USB PIC capable without serious hackery.

What are your PIC interests and priorities?
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Re: Bolt Beginners Board

Postby linker3000 » Tue Jun 10, 2014 12:56 am

Ian.M wrote:So tell us about the PICdem board - post a photo of its current condition if possible.

The older PICdem 2 plus is a good board. Neither are USB PIC capable without serious hackery.

What are your PIC interests and priorities?


Hi Ian, I'll post a picture sometime - it's in a box in the attic at the moment. From memory: the RJ11 socket has been removed - I'll get around to finding a replacement sometime - the crystal oscillator circuit has been modified, there's a few cut tracks, some pull-ups desoldered and the prototyping area has some additional logic - possibly related to an RF project. I seem to recall there was a marked-up circuit schematic in the box, but it's all been packed up for about 6 months.

My interests are to learn the architecture with regards to ASM programming,move onto C and to merge PICs into my resurrected electronics and stage/theatre hobby work - really just something to be creative with and to keep my hand-in.
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Re: Bolt Beginners Board

Postby Joseph Watson » Fri Jun 13, 2014 10:13 pm

I have been using the BOLT development boards for a couple of years. I am sure they do not fit well with everybody's needs but I have found them useful. If you have read some of my other posts, you may notice that I am generally an assembly language programmer. I never write in C language.

I have a web page devoted to the BOLT board. It provides explanation of the features on the boards, some of the BOLT's weaknesses (as I see them), ways to expand and add on to the board, other modifications to the BOLT boards, and many other additional bits of information. The last update that I made to that page was just after the start of 2014. I have since learned more tricks about using it and should push myself to update my BOLT page some more.

My current project involves the use of a BOLT Lite board, a low cost graphic LCD display, an SD card, and a Stonyman (made by Centeye) digital imaging chip (basically a digital camera geared especially for small microcontroller use). All the parts of the project (including the BOLT board itself) are plugged into a breadboard.

Personally, so far, I have found the PIC18F2550 to be adequate for my needs. I am sure the grass can always be greener with a newer model.

I have had telephone and email contact with one of the primary individuals at Punto Flotante S.A. in Mexico and he was very helpful.

My page about the BOLT is located here: http://www.angelfire.com/oh3/ebjoew/BoltNut.html

If you have questions with which I might be able to help or just general comments, you may voice them right here.
NCR once refused to hire me because I was too short. I'm still waiting on my growth spurt.
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Re: Bolt Beginners Board

Postby linker3000 » Sat Jun 14, 2014 12:58 pm

Hi Joseph,

Your page was a good read - thanks for the tIp. I'm going to populate my lite with some of the extra bits and use it as a learning tool. I also have a K-version of the PIC on the way as suggested by jtemples.
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Re: Bolt Beginners Board

Postby linker3000 » Sat Jun 14, 2014 3:25 pm

Ian.M wrote:It also fails to impress me because it has no ICSP/ICD connector and uses RB6 and RB7 on the keypad and LCD interfaces. I try to avoid development boards I cant debug. It seems to be aimed at cheapskate academic courses where they don't want to have to provide each student in the class with a programmer/debugger.

Alternatives:
https://www.olimex.com/Products/PIC/Proto/PIC-USB-4550/ - bare bones 5V PIC18 USB board
http://www.dizzy.co.za/store.asp?category=89&item=437 - PIC18 USB board that accepts Arduino shields and Mikroelektronika 'Click' modules


Just ordered a Breeze B from Dizzy. I have some Arduino shields on the way too so I can play the field!
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