TCPmaker sounds too good to be true. Does it actually work?

It may sound too good to be true, but our customers find that it works brilliantly. We've worked hard to keep it that way, and to help our customers when they run into problems.

We have added written and video testimonials from real customers in various places throughout our site, as well as a Showcase section that displays real products that our customers have developed with our tools. We hope that these will put your mind at ease, and help settle any doubts that you might have.

But if those won't convince you, then please consider this: our products are also sold by Microchip itself, in their MicrochipDIRECT online store. If our products didn't work, or if we didn't provide great tech support for our customers, Microchip wouldn't sell our stuff. It's as simple as that!

And if THAT won't convince you, then check out our TCPmaker Test Drive pages, where you can download some sample projects and see for yourself.

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Can I get a time-limited evaluation version of TCPmaker?

Sorry, no, we really cannot do that. We have a problem with trial editions. Our software is so powerful that it can generate your whole project in a matter of minutes, so if we were to give out trial editions that can actually generate code, no one would have any need to buy the product!

For that reason, the TCPmaker Test Drive part of our web site contains some TCPmaker sample projects that you can download and run yourself. Each of these sample projects contains a .HEX file that you can program into a working

demo board like Microchip's PicDem.net2 board or an Explorer 16 board with an Ethernet PICtail board. There are demos for the PIC18F97J60 "EtherPic" for the PICDEM.net2, and for the Explorer 16 board, we provide the same demos for either the PIC24FJ128GA010 (which is one of the Plug In Modules that comes with the Explorer 16) or the PIC32MX360F512L (which is a Plug In Module that works with the Explorer 16). With each project, we also provide instructions, and some experiments you can try with the demo.

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Is there a student version of TCPmaker?

At the moment, we do not have a student version that can be bought by an individual student. However, we CAN offer the next best thing. If you are a student at an accredited college or university or technical school, please have your professor contact us to buy a copy of TCPmaker that you can use for a student project. That way, you don't have to pay a thing, and your university gets a tool that other students can use as well, under the direction of a faculty member.

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Is there an educational discount for using TCPmaker in a class?

If you are an educator, we'd love to help you make use of TCPmaker in a classroom setting. Please contact us for volume discount pricing.

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Is there any guarantee?

 

Absolutely! We guarantee that our generated code will work correctly, perfectly, every time, or we will make it right! If you can show evidence that you contacted us for technical support, followed our instructions repeatedly on a known good microcontroller board (like a commercial demo board), and yet were still not able to get your first project working, we will refund your money up to 90 days after purchase.

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Do I get tech support?

Definitely! Many of our customers find that our tech support is the best support they have ever seen. We are determined not to let you fail.

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Is there some equivalent of USB's "Vendor ID" that I need before I can sell my Ethernet product?

Yes, there is. In order to be able to sell a product that uses network connectivity, you must obtain the rights to commercially use either an Organizationally Unique ID (OUID) or an Individual Address Block (IAB). You must purchase this from the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.

These are two different options: you do not need both. The more expensive OID option (USD $1,650 at the time of this writing) gives you the ability to make 2^24 = 16,777,216 product units, each with a unique MAC address.

The less expensive IAB option (USD $550 at the time of this writing) gives you the ability to make 2^12 = 4,096 product units, each with a unique MAC address.

Both of these options provide you with numbers that become part of the physical or MAC address of each unit of your product. THE MAC ADDRESS FOR EACH UNIT OF ANY OF YOUR COMMERCIAL PRODUCTS MUST BE GUARANTEED TO BE UNIQUE IN THE WORLD. Please note that there is no separate equivalent of USB's Product ID, so there is no additional "Product ID" type number that could let you re-use the same MAC address in two different products.

An OUID is a 24-bit number that is used as the first 3 bytes of the MAC address of each unit of your product, to uniquely identify your organization. (See file TCPIPConfig.h in the examples in the Microchip TCPIP Stack, or the file of the same name in your TCPmaker project.) You must then provide a unique set of numbers for the last 3 bytes of the MAC address, for each unit of your product. THE MAC ADDRESS FOR EACH UNIT OF YOUR COMMERCIAL PRODUCT MUST BE GUARANTEED TO BE UNIQUE IN THE WORLD.

An IAB is used in a similar way, but you are only allowed to provide 4,096 unique MAC addresses.

You can learn more about OUID and IAB registration at the IEEE Registration Authority's Frequently Asked Questions page at http://standards.ieee.org/faqs/OUI.html .

Sadly, there is no free option available for OUIDs or IABs: IEEE rules explictly forbid the "subletting" of these IDs to third parties that are not directly registered with the IEEE.

However, Microchip does offer several low cost chips (budgetary prices range from $0.21 - $0.30 at the time of this writing) that you can design into your product's circuitry that provides a complete, globally unique MAC address for each unit of your product. These chips also a provide 1.5 KB of serial EEPROM for your use. These chips are offered with SPI, I2C, and Uni-I/O interface formats. Search the Microchip web site these devices: 25AA02E48 (SPI version),

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Do I need to pay for an OUID or IAB if I am not selling a product, but only experimenting in my own lab?

We don't think so. We have never heard any reports of any sort of "Ethernet Police" breaking down your door if you use a OUID that is not your own, as long as you are only experimenting in your own lab AND BEHIND A HARDWARE FIREWALL. In this situation, the key is to find a MAC address that is not already in use on your Local Area Network that you already use. If you pick a MAC address that is already in use on your network, then you may create an address conflict, and one of your devices will not be accessable.

IF YOU DO USE A MAC ADDRESS THAT IS NOT YOUR OWN, YOU DO SO ENTIRELY AT YOUR OWN RISK.

Make sure that you never give software or a device made from this experimental work to anybody else, without changing it to use a MAC address that you are entitled to use. DISTRIBUTING A DEVICE OR SOFTWARE THAT USES SOME OTHER COMPANY'S MAC ADDRESS WITHOUT THEIR PERMISSION COULD SUBJECT YOU TO LEGAL ACTION. TRACE SYSTEMS WILL NOT BE HELD RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR ACTIONS.

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Is there a royalty for selling products that use TCPmaker code?

No, there is no royalty for using TCPmaker's generated code in your products. TCPmaker gives you a permanent, paid-up right to use the code that it generated, with your modifications, in binary form in your products.

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Are there any license restrictions?

Yes, there are a few. In plain language, the License Agreement prohibits you from using our product against us. You are prohibited from using TCPmaker to create a development tool that competes against us.

Also, you may not publish the source code that TCPmaker has generated for you, with or without modifications. TCPmaker does things that nobody else knows how to do, so we don't want our generated source code flying around the Internet. Our customers do not find this to be a problem, because they too want to protect the source code for their product.

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Is the license permanent?

Yes. We are instituting an low annual maintenance fee for technical support and upgrades, which starts a year after you purchased our product. Whether or not you purchase a support package has no bearing on your right to use the tool that you have purchased, or your right to sell products that have been made with it.