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Gold - Posts: 4,913
Gold spacespace
Joined: November 03, 2008
Location: Australia
Posted: November 05, 2012 at 7:12 PM / IP Logged  
I hope that guy's a good programmer LOL! (I have a knack of doing things they can't do, or doing it "smaller".)
He may not know or like PICs, but he should be able to describe what to do - eg, initialise (clear memory, buffers etc), set up inputs & outputs, pre-load variables, and run the program. The program may do whatever before looping awaiting input changes whereupon it does whatever and re-waits. Those things never change, it's just how it gets implemented (eg, an a PIC-08 that does not have "interrupts".)
Sequencer - I overlooked that.
The PIC 08 which has only 8 pins as opposed to those with 16, 24, 40, 132 etc - has few i/o (input/output) pins. 2 are for power which leaves a max of 6 pins but one or more may have a dedicated function though newer models can multi-function the older "dedicated" pins.
Assume the 08M2 (the later PC 08 version) can use all 6 non-power pins. One is a dedicated input which leaves a max of 5 outputs (of which one is a dedicated output anyway).
5 outputs is probably not enough for a sequencer - especially of one output is going to be a PWM for dimming.
Of course if you have 2 inputs - maybe 1 for sequencing and 1 for dimming, that leaves 4 outputs.
There are all sorts of tricks that can be used, but that's part of the design. It might be easier using a separate 4017 decade counter (which can count or sequence from 2 to 10, and higher with more 4017s) than adding a binary decoder to the 3 PIC08 outputs for a 7-sequencer, or combining 2 or 3 inputs via resistors etc to allow more outputs.
You could use a bigger PIC, but I've been concentrating only on the smaller 08 8-pin version since its the same size as the smallest typical chips (eg, 555 timer, many SMPS controllers, etc) and can do so much more.    
The aforementioned "tricks" is where it becomes a buzz. That buzz may be from realising a more efficient program, or overcoming limitation - like how do I input 10 switches into an 8-pin PIC? Connect them via a resistive network to one pin and have the PIC sense the (at least) 11 different analog voltages.   
It's getting to that stage that can be a pain.
I found that computering (as in uPCs, CPUs etc) was a discipline that had a high initial threshold - a steep learning curve before anything made sense or could be done. (Guitar was too steep for me so I bashed drums instead LOL.)
But PICs make it somewhat easy for novices. No address or data busses or crystals to worry about, nor memory clearing or vectoring.
But dimming etc IMO - definitely PIC.   
And example at hand - I recently fitted electric windows to my ute.
I've decided that mere off-on-off is too fast for small adjustments. Hence I want a soft-start circuit.
Though it could be an analog soft-start, I don't want to worry about heating and heatsinks, nor adjustments for that matter. So PWM is my intent.
Why use a PIC for this? Well, I was looking for a 555 PWM circuit that would ramp-up when power was applied.
Not that I found one, but I was going to figure out how it could be done...
But a PIC would be fewer components. And if I wanted to change the ramp up time I wouldn't have to change any components, just change one variable.
Furthermore, a 555 PWM will not turn "fully on" - it may have a 99.99% duty cycle. but it's still switching.
The PIC can be programmed to stay on when the PWM duty cycle gets above 99% or 99.9% etc.   
The PIC can also have a reprogrammable threshold like say start at 30% because below that isn't enough to start the motor, or start at 100% before quickly dropping to to 10% or 30% whatever (since motors may have a starting threshold).
It's all programmable. Add if you need to. Change if you need to. No soldering iron involved - just a serial interface.
Of course the above is preemptive. That's your next project. I don't even know the intent/design!
Member - Posts: 38
Member spacespace
Joined: October 08, 2012
Location: North Carolina, United States
Posted: November 06, 2012 at 8:18 PM / IP Logged  
to blow off some steam about my first day at work today...I just started at a custom audio/video/lighting etc shop in my area as a tech/installer. a guy from another shop brought in a 2011 taundra and wanted a cheap ass ebay remote start installed for one of his customers, and I was told to use t-taps and electrical tape o.O no naturally I'm a bit hesitant...I get everything wired up, lock/unlock works fine, remote start starts the truck, but then turns off. over and over, double and triple checked every wire, the immobilizer, the can hi/lo, the firmware, the blade programming...driving myself nuts trying to figure it out, the head installer there is working beside me trying to get it figure out...then we're told that another place already tried to get it working, and couldn't so they brought it to I the only one that HATES going behind other peoples doodiety work? from 0900 till 2030 we worked on this thing, and the owner decided he wanted his truck back without the system.
2015 f150 xlt
Gold - Posts: 4,913
Gold spacespace
Joined: November 03, 2008
Location: Australia
Posted: November 06, 2012 at 10:41 PM / IP Logged  
Hey - stop hijacking! (LOL. But no, this is an excellent spot for your story. And I'm glad you told it - ie, blow-off steam etc.)
IMO such customers should be charged for the hours.
Whilst a "normal" stuffed job may be unchargeable, when the customer has failed to divulge reasonable & known supportive information...
And certainly if such lack of disclosure is to cover up...
Of course I understand the company view and the situation of "extra" customer support that goes with the territory or social conscience - and product augmentation - but I also note the marketing view that "some customers are not worth having". However, the advertising destruction such customers can cause...
When I worked for companies, I made a point to warn of the consequences of "cheap buys". Unfortunately that was rarely heeded because the problems would be in next year's budget or someone else's budget. Either way it didn't matter because they wanted this year's bonus for money saved. (Geez, I wonder why Edwards Demming was so against individual bonus schemes, yet so many companies today have apparently adopted his Quality practices?) Bad luck if that bonus was from saving $20 on a few thousand items despite then costing well over $10,000 in extra training (sometimes per person!) plus support infrastructure, and of course the supposed extra staff for the new overhead.   
But I made sure I did not suffer when their poo hit the fan. If it was a failure solely related to the cheaper spend, I would not stress over their angst and timing requirements. And when they tried flakking me, I'd merely refer to their risk analysis which either correctly pointed out this predictable scenario else for some reason omitted entirely the pre-buy advice I had given. [ Yep, upper-managers sure liked that one - finally they had a reason to sack one of their own ha ha! And for some unknown reason, my supposed insubordination did not impact my job security. ]
I try the same for the general population. It's merely the same old general advice that cheap may cost more, and I'll detail what I know else suggest they research etc. (More often I'm telling people not to be afraid "just because it's cheap" - there are some excellent quality products out there that are IMO unbelievably cheap. But that's another story and usually involves the same experience or info required for any investment - cheap or not.)
In the past few years I have had several friends ask me to help fix their problem. When that problem has arisen out of failure to follow my previous advice, I merely tell them how I am into preventing problems, not fixing them after they (then) occur. [Those that were unable to implement for valid reasons like funding etc get my help or fix, but those too lazy etc don't. As to those too stupid to heed my advice, well, that depends...)
It's easy for me to say the above, and there are many shades of grey involved.
I'd like to think it's easy to define a fixed offering - eg, we are prepared to spend 2 hours gratis (if we can't/couldn't find the fault). But then comes the "I've invested so much already, and I'm so close! (Not)".
And how often to we pre-clarify with the customer what they are prepared to spend, or what you will charge - even if not fixed? Or even if a simple disabling is acceptable (until they have appropriate funds).
The latter clarification might make it obvious that the safest or cheapest solution is for the repairer themselves to refit the device, or even buy the more expensive quality device. (Why do power companies give away free energy-saving light bulbs?)
Anyhow, I'm sitting here on my high perch... And I'm merely discussing my business related frustration.
As to the frustration of fault finding in a car - forget it.
And someone else's work... And with a device of unknown status and behavior...
Nah - as I said, I bow out. I'm smart enough to have read things on a site called "the2volt" that makes even me aware of my limitations.   
IMO those installers are gods to be revered! (And luckily guns are essentially "banned" here n Australia LOL!)
My sympathies kazp3rr! Whilst it may be easy to add padding to customer charge$ to cover these things, I wish the emotional padding was just as easy.
Member - Posts: 38
Member spacespace
Joined: October 08, 2012
Location: North Carolina, United States
Posted: November 24, 2012 at 1:27 AM / IP Logged  
haven't forgotten about you, sir, nor the project lol
things have been a bit crazy lately (understatement of the day)
will be back in a couple days hopefulley~
2015 f150 xlt
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