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Got a technical problem? Can't understand a piece of jargon or some technical principle? Drop us a line and we?ll answer your question. Write to: Ask Silicon Chip, PO Box 139, Collaroy Beach, NSW 2097 or send an email to

dsPIC programming capability

Is the "Low-Cost Programmer For dsPICs & PICs" that appeared in the May 2008 issue capable of programming PIC16C745 OTP chips? (J. B., Ballarat, Vic).

• No, the dsPIC Programmer does not support the PIC16C745. The main reason is that WinPIC (the PC freeware program used with the dsPIC programmer) does not support it.

We suggest you look at the PIC18F2550 which is pin-for-pin compatible with the 16C745, as a suitable replacement. It has USB 2.0 rather than 1.1 and is flash-based (not OTP). It also has more memory and better specs all round, as it is a newer design. And the dsPIC programmer can program most of the 18F series.

Variable boost controller

I purchased the Variable Boost Controller (SILICON CHIP, February 2007) to fit to my car but I did not realise it needs to see a signal from the ECU. My ECU does not control the boost solenoid in my car. I was hoping I could hook this kit up with +12V and it would operate correctly but after making it and reading the paperwork, it seems I am mistaken. Please let me know how to hook this kit up without an ECU signal. (C. W., via email).

• The input signal to the Variable Boost Controller can be from the pulse width modulated signal that controls the boost control solenoid. The Variable Boost Controller intercepts the signal. Note that the Variable Boost Controller is suited to electronic controllers, not electromechanical.

Using a fuel mixture display on a motorbike

After reading your November 2008 edition of SILICON CHIP am I able to do the following with the Wideband Fuel Display Mixture Kit?

(a) Use it as a standalone unit to tune the carburettor on a motorbike? I would add an extension pipe into the exhaust and drill a narrow-band oxygen sensor into it.

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