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PICAXE Net Server - Pt.1

Control your next electronics project from virtually anywhere on the planet using the Internet and a tiny web server - the PICAXE Net Server!

By Clive Seager

Most readers will already be aware that it’s possible to control just about anything over the Internet. Unfortunately, the complexities involved in doing so mean that simple do-it-yourself projects are locked out of this extremely useful technology – until now, that is!

The PICAXE Net Server (PNS) described here is a microcontroller-based web server, designed to operate either by itself or in partnership with a PICAXE chip. This small (112 x 76mm) board acts as a complete stand-alone web server, without the need for a computer, making it ideal for building into electronics projects.

Because the PNS is microcontroller based and reads its web pages from a small memory chip (EEPROM), it obviously cannot act as a conventional web server, serving thousands of pages to hundreds of users. However, when used appropriately as an Internet interface for electronics projects, it is an extremely versatile and powerful piece of equipment.

Click for larger image
Fig.1: the PICAXE Net Server is based around a PIC18F452 microcontroller from Microchip. Compressed web pages are stored in a tiny 64kbyte EEPROM, while a 2-line, 16-character LCD conveys status information and can display user-programmed messages. The network connection is handled by a Realtek RTL8019 Ethernet controller chip.

Over the coming months, we’ll look at using the PICAXE Net Server in a couple of simple projects. This month, we’ll look at the basics of the PNS and then construct a simple demo board to connect to its input/output port. The remainder of the article focuses on setting up the PNS and culminates in the use of the demo board for testing.

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