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Ron Hackett

Ron's Articles

Controlling an Electric BBQ Smoker — Part 1
Column: PICAXE Primer
April 2016
As I mentioned at the end of the February Primer, we're now going to turn our attention to using a thermocouple sensor and a solid-state relay (SSR) to monitor and control the temperature of an electric smoker.

Controlling an Electric BBQ Smoker — Part 2
Column: PICAXE Primer
April 2016
Controlling and monitoring an electric BBQ smoker with a PICAXE data logger.

Building A Simple Data Logger
Column: PICAXE Primer
February 2016
Implement a simple 08M2 based data logger that monitors and records the real time temperature of a backyard grill.

PICAXE-PC Serial Communication Part 4
Column: PICAXE Primer
November 2015
PICAXE-PC Serial Communication Part 4. Discover three different approaches to transferring data from a PICAXE project to a PC, then test out the FRAM breakout board being utilized.

PICAXE-PC Serial Communication — Part 3
Column: PICAXE Primer
September 2015
Experimenting with an interrupt-based method of improving the 20X2 response time that’s faster than anything we’ve used so far.

PICAXE-PC Serial Communications Part 2
Column: PICAXE Primer
July 2015
We’ll continue our exploration of hardware serial communication between a PICAXE and a PC.

PICAXE-PC Serial Communication — Part 1
Column: PICAXE Primer
May 2015
We’ll continue our experiments with the Prolific cable, but this time focus on sending data back and forth between a PICAXE processor and a PC.

USB-to-Serial Adapters Revisited
Column: PICAXE Primer
March 2015
Explore a hardware solution that allows you to use a wide variety of relatively inexpensive USB-to-serial adapter cables in PICAXE breadboard projects.

Harnessing the Power of USB
Column: PICAXE Primer
January 2015
Construct a couple of simple USB-based power supplies that you can use in your next PICAXE project.

Introducing the RazzPi PCBs
Column: PICAXE Primer
November 2014
Learn about two new printed circuit boards you can use in either PICAXE-Pi projects or pure PICAXE applications.

Build an Auto-Off Continuity Tester
Column: PICAXE Primer
August 2014
Follow through a few experiments to construct a PICAXE-based auto-off continuity tester that will help save money on batteries.

Construct a Battery-Backed UPS for Your Pi
Column: PICAXE Primer
June 2014
Protect your Pi during power outages for a fraction of the cost of commercial uninterruptable power supply units.

PICAXE-Pi Communications — Part 2
Column: PICAXE Primer
April 2014
We’ll continue with our PICAXE-Pi communications experiments, and cover the basic techniques that can be used to send a PICAXE ADC reading to the Pi from any analog sensor we choose.

PICAXE-Pi Communications — Part 1
Column: PICAXE Primer
February 2014
Get answers to questions about the behavior of the program from last time, and begin an exploration of PICAXE-Pi communications.

The Ins and Outs of Python Programming
Column: PICAXE Primer
December 2013
Start off with a few Python experiments with digital inputs on the Raspberry Pi, then implement a Cylon Eye project to continue our quest of interfacing the PICAXE with a Pi.

Getting Started With Python Programming
Column: PICAXE Primer
October 2013
We're going to begin our Raspberry Pi programming experiments by implementing a simple "Hello World!" program using Python, and then move on to the basics of controlling the RPi's GPIO pins with a Python program.

Have A Piece Of PICAXE Pi
Column: PICAXE Primer
August 2013
Begin exploring the possibilites of interfacing PICAXE processors to the Raspberry Pi, starting with a simple stripboard circuit that will allow easy access to several of the Pi’s GPIO pins.

Reader Questions Answered Here
Column: Q&A
July 2013
A radio modification, a beginner’s question, a Jacob’s ladder circuit, electret microphones, and a stable, accurate oscillator are covered.

Getting Started With Surface-Mount Soldering
Column: PICAXE Primer
June 2013
Getting Started With Surface-Mount Soldering. In order to finish our multiplexed LED project, we’ll need to construct a strip board version of the circuit.

Experimenting With Parallel Task Processing
Column: PICAXE Primer
April 2013
All M2-class processors include this new software feature that allows them to simulate a multi-core processor by rapidly switching between two or more separate tasks.

Yet Another LED-2X7 Project!
Column: PICAXE Primer
February 2013
Working with the 20M2 and the Lumex LDD-N514RI-RA LED Display.

Sharpening Your Tools of Creativity
Column: PICAXE Primer
December 2012
Wrapping Up and Moving On: The MCP9700A and Battery-Powered Systems.

Measuring a PICAXE Processor’s Internal Temperature
Column: PICAXE Primer
October 2012
In this month's Primer, we're finally going to take a look at the new M2-class readinternaltemp command.

Further Explorations With PICAXE Temperature Measurement.
Column: PICAXE Primer
August 2012
In this month's Primer, we're going to continue our explorations of temperature measurement with PICAXE processors, but before we get to that, I want to give you an update on my "Freezer Alarm" project.

Column: PICAXE Primer
June 2012
Interfacing the DS18B20 Digital Thermometer.

Column: PICAXE Primer
April 2012
Developing software for the LED-2x7 project board.

Column: PICAXE Primer
February 2012
Constructing a two-digit seven segment LED project board.

Column: PICAXE Primer
December 2011
Upgrading the recent serial LCD project.

Column: PICAXE Primer
October 2011
Introducing the new PICAXE M2-Class microcontrollers.

Column: PICAXE Primer
August 2011
Using EEPROMs to Store and Retrieve Data.

Column: PICAXE Primer
June 2011
Introducing the PICAXE AXE401 Shield Base.

Column: PICAXE Primer
April 2011
Experimenting with capacitive-touch sensors.

Column: PICAXE Primer
February 2011
In this month’s installment of the Primer, we’re going to explore two different implementations of a touch-sensitive keypad.

Introduction to the PICAXE-18M2 Processor
Column: PICAXE Primer
December 2010
As promised, in this month’s Primer we’re going to take our first look at the new PICAXE-18M2 processor. If you read the brief “teaser” of new 18M2 features that I included in the previous installment, you already know that it’s an impressive processor, to say the least.

Implementing an ADC Keypad
Column: PICAXE Primer
October 2010
This alternate approach only requires a single ADC input to decode a 12- or 16-key matrix keypad, so it’s suitable for use with any 08M-based project.

Introducing Tex and Rex: The IR Twins
Column: PICAXE Primer
August 2010
In this month’s column, we’re going to re-visit the infrared realm, but this time we’re going to take a different approach and develop two very simple IR boards — each of which serves only one specific function. Rex will be our IR receiver and Tex will transmit IR signals to Rex.

Using the AxMate Power and Programming Adapter
Column: PICAXE Primer
June 2010
In this month’s installment of the PICAXE Primer, we’re going to construct a simple “AxMate” adapter that provides all the necessary breadboard connections for powering and programming a PICAXE project.

Programming the MAX7219 LED Display Driver
Column: PICAXE Primer
April 2010
This month, we’ll experiment with three different programs for our display and one for our 28X1 master processor. First, we’ll try out a simple program to count from 0 to 9999, and then we’ll throw in a little “zero-blanking” for good measure.

Using the MAX7219 LED Display Driver
Column: PICAXE Primer
February 2010
Using the MAX7219 LED display driver for any PICAXE project.

Interfacing Seven-Segment LCD Displays
Column: PICAXE Primer
December 2009
This time,we’re going to experiment with interfacing seven-segment LED displays with PICAXE processors.To explore the basic concepts involved, we’ll begin with the simplest case: interfacing a single-digit LED display with a 20M processor.

Using The AXE027 USB Programming Cable
Column: PICAXE Primer
October 2009
This month's Primer we're going to take a first look at how to cope with the process of migrating from the serial to USB programming connections.

Programming Your Serialized LCD Display
Column: PICAXE Primer
August 2009
This month we’re going to turn our attention to some of the details of programming the display. Specifically, we’ll investigate two of the most useful features of LCD displays: scrolling a long line of text across the relatively small width of the display and creating custom characters to enhance the functionality of the display.

Taming Unruly LCD’s: Part 2
Column: PICAXE Primer
June 2009
The 14M is the perfect processor for this project. It has more than enough I/O lines and program memory for the task at hand and it’s cheap enough that you can construct two or three complete “serialized” LCDs for the price of one commercial display.

Taming Unruly LCDs: Part 1
Column: PICAXE Primer
April 2009
In the previous installment of the PICAXE Primer, I said we would turn our attention toward interfacing our Master Processor with inexpensive LCD displays based on the Hitachi HD44780 controller

Implementing a serial data link with the IR multi-board
Column: PICAXE Primer
February 2009
This month, we're going to resolve the problem of the missing keypresses that we had last time with our SIRC system and then move on to accomplishing our final goal for the IR Multi-Board:

Playing Music and Watching Lights
Column: PICAXE Primer
February 2008
In the first installment of the PICAXE PrimeR, we took a look at the 08M’s music making capabilities and used the super simple “play” command to play “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.” This month, we’ll expand our repertoire by exploring the “tune” command, which will enable us to play any tune we choose. As I mentioned last time, there are nearly 1,000 tunes available for free downloading at the Revolution Education website (

Getting Started With Stripboard Circuit Construction
Column: PICAXE Primer
April 2008
If you have been reading the PICAXE Primer or any of my articles in Nuts & Volts and SERVO Magazine, you know by now that I am very partial to working with breadboard circuits. I think they are by far the fastest and most flexible approach to building and debugging a PICAXE-based circuit, or any small circuit for that matter. However, sooner or later you may want to construct a circuit that is more reliable and “permanent” than a breadboard circuit...

Good Intentions and “Faux” PC Boards
Column: PICAXE Primer
June 2008
It’s funny how things sometimes get away from me. My original intention for this month’s column was to present an introduction to the many new and powerful features of the PICAXE-28X1 processor but, as I started to elaborate on the details of some of these features, it began to feel like information overload...

Getting Started with the PICAXE-28X1 Microcontroller
Column: Getting Started With PICS
August 2008
In essence, the PICAXE-28X1 is like a 28X on steroids. It’s pin-for-pin compatible with the 28X and all the 28X commands will function correctly on a 28X1. In other words, if you have an existing 28X circuit, it will function exactly the same with a 28X1 installed. This is a good thing, because Revolution Education considers the 28X to be obsolete and has discontinued it. Amazingly, the new 28X1 is about the same price as the old 28X...

Build The PICAXE IR Multiboard
Column: PICAXE Primer
October 2008
This month, we’re going to develop and test our first I/O device for use with the PICAXE-28X1: an 08M-based, multi-function infrared board capable of implementing the entire range of PICAXE IR communications.

Experimenting With The IR Multi-Board
Column: PICAXE Primer
December 2008
This month, we’re going to continue our exploration of PICAXE IR capabilities, which we have divided into three basic categories...

Getting Started With PICAXE Microncontrollers - Part 1
January 2007
If you are relatively new to the world of programmable microcontrollers, the PICAXE line of processors is the perfect place to start.

Getting Started With PICAXE Microncontrollers - Part 2
February 2007
As promised, in Part 2 we will focus on interfacing the PICAXE-18X with a Hitachi HD44780-based LCD display. Finally, in Part 3, we will add a 12 or 16 key matrix keyboard and a piezo beeper to complete our I/O terminal.

Getting Started With PICAXE Microncontrollers - Part 3
March 2007
Last month, we interfaced the 18X with a Hitachi HD44780-based LCD display. Now we are ready to add a 12- or 16-key matrix keyboard and a piezo beeper to complete our I/O terminal...

Welcome To The Power Of PICAXE
Column: PICAXE Primer
December 2007
Welcome to the first installment of PICAXE Primer, a column dedicated to “spreading the word” about the ease, power, and versatility of programming and project-building with the unique microcontrollers.