[amsat-bb] Re: Programming language recommendation?

Clive Wallis clivew at zetnet.co.uk
Thu Oct 9 02:17:56 PDT 2008

Alan WA4SCA wrote -


>I am tempted to say that I am looking for the current generation BASIC, but
>I am want something a bit beyond that, though of course the ability to print
>"Hello World" with less than 10 lines of code is a plus.  ;)  And it needs
>to be something I can get into using a free or low cost compiler.  I am not
>much interested in spending a few hundred dollars.

I can strongly recommend BBC BASIC for Windows.   

For many years I have been using this software for all new applications.
The language is very powerful, with a very wide range of built-in
functions, including access to MS Windows routines such as the API, DDE
and COM/OLE. Assembler code is also supported.  It is possible to write
programs with a simple command line, type of user interface or with a
Windows style graphical interface.  Programs can be run in interpreted
mode or compiled as stand-alone programs. 

The program contains an excellent help feature, covering the instruction
set. This includes short code segments, which may be copied & pasted into
your code.  There is also a useful library of demonstration programs
showing a wide range of possible applications, and a beginner's tutorial.
In addition to the built-in help feature, there is a useful on-line WIKI
http://bb4w.wikispaces.com .

Further support is provided on-line by an active Yahoo discussion group
http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/bb4w .  The groups website also contains
many program files & tutorials submitted by members.

The author, Richard G4BAU, provides an unprecedented level of support
for his software,
directly by e-mail or via the BB4W Yahoo discussion group. A recent example
of this level of support was the response to a request about interfacing
to the DDE interface of SAT_EXPLORER.  Richard very kindly wrote the code
segment for me, and even tested it with the tracking program.

BBC BASIC for Windows is available from Richard's website
www.rtrussell.co.uk.  The program costs 30 GBP, but a free
trial version can be downloaded. This has all the features of the full
program, except the compiler, and it is limited to short programs.  Please
note that I have no commercial interest in this software, other than being
a very satisfied user.

Recently I have been using the PICAXE range of micro controllers. They
are available as 8, 18,28 & 40 pin devices. IMHO these wouldn't be
suitable for Alan's requirement. The BASIC language (free download from
PICAXE website) is very restricted in features, and for many tasks
offers little more than assembler code. AFAIK it doesn't include
floating point routines. However, it does include 'easy to use' routines
for communicating with a wide range of peripherals, such as I/O ports,
serial ports, single wire buses and the I2C bus. 

You don't need a special programmer for the PICAXE, as only three
resistors are needed to connect to a serial port.  However, a useful
experiments board is available from the distributers, which includes
these resistors, and various simple I/O devices.  

In the past I've used microcontrollers such as the popular 16F8, and
found them to be very critical on hardware and lead length for
programming.  I've never had any problems with the PICAXE.

Adding a PIXAXE to a PC running BBC BASIC for Windows produces a very
powerful and versatile combination.  


	 Clive    G3CWV

         Hitchin, North Hertfordshire, UK.

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