These are available from many sources in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. To package the additional inverter circuitry, attach a small perfboard extension to the end of the module board with epoxy. It’s also a little clunky. That’s easily done in several ways. There is one catch, though.

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The 22K and 10K resistors cannot be part of the cable. Purchasing a ready-made converter module or breakout board can save you the tedious job of soldering the small closely-spaced pins of a converter chip. Many hobbyists are reluctant to venture into new technology because of startup costs.

AXE USB Cable Driver – Software – PICAXE

Need to brush up on your electronics principles? The cable uses an FTRx series converter — a chip found in many USB-to-serial converters because of its versatility, as well as the availability of drivers for a wide variety of operating systems.

Figure 3 shows some examples. What else could you want? Since most of the converter modules will operate up to Kb, you can use your cable for many computer interface projects other than PICAXE downloading.

Output designations are pocaxe by a symbol if they are active low by default. You can temporarily power your PICAXE circuit from the module, but for a final design use something that works when the download cable is unplugged.

PICAXE USB Programming Cable (AXE) – Robot Gear Australia

Nearly all modules have one or more LEDs to indicate power, transmit, receive, etc. All you would need to add would be cables.


These are available from many sources in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Figure 1 lead photo shows details of the PCB assembly removed from a recently acquired AXE cable and its schematic. There are many choices of similar ICs in a pin DIP package with through-hole leads, and many hobbyists prefer this type of package because it is easy to work with when using perfboard or a solderless breadboard. For connections to the inverters, use tiny 30 gauge wire-wrap wire or strands from stranded hookup wire.

PICAXE USB Programming Cable (AXE027)

Most other applications for a serial comm cable use standard TTL polarity signals, so you won’t need the inverters. In summary, there are ways that PICAXE could have made it difficult to substitute third-party download cables, but to their credit there is no evidence they have attempted to do that.

They keep the PICAXE serial input from floating pjcaxe like an antenna when the cablr cable is disconnected, which could result in noise pickup that might interfere with program execution. PICAXE products offer an attractive alternative to novices who lack experience using microprocessors and would like to learn more about them without a major investment in development tools and software training.

Figure 4 shows how you can use discrete transistors and resistors for the inverters.

Download cable using a converter module that can provide inverted RX and TX. There is one catch, though. Any type of NPN transistors can be used, and the resistor values are not critical.


No other programming equipment is required. After anchoring a three-conductor cable and testing the unit, cover the add-on board assembly with epoxy or heat shrink. To package the additional inverter circuitry, attach a small perfboard extension to the end of the module board with epoxy. None of these boards have the capability of inverting RX and TX. Note that the 22K and 10K resistors from Figure 2 are still necessary to prevent noise on the serial input when the cable is disconnected.

FTDI-based boards use a built-in oscillator, so no external crystal is needed.

PICAXE USB Download Cable

To test your completed cable — including the inverters — jumper pin 1 to pin 2, and then use Windows HyperTerminal or any other serial comm utility software to perform a loopback test. The chips are inexpensive, and the editing software for writing and testing ase027 program is a free download.

My favorite is the board at the far right of Figure 3which is supplied with a protective outer wrapper of clear heat shrink tubing. Select the miscellaneous parts per the version you are building. For the others, you can add a couple of simple inverters.