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.
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.