Interest in PIC chips

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by KLillie, Mar 6, 2015.

  1. KLillie

    Thread Starter Member

    May 31, 2014
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    First of all this is not to start a war. I have not done much research on PIC microcontrollers. I am starting to get the impression they are pretty cool, just not as user friendly as the atmel/AVR/arduino environment. What would you say is the PIC chip's saving grace? Why use them? In what area do they shine? Just a question for sh!ts and giggles. Please don't hate on me for this (if you can't say anything nice...); if I wanted to do untainted research I'd be in a corner with a stack of books. Thanks! :cool:
     
  2. Roderick Young

    Member

    Feb 22, 2015
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    The PICs are cheap. If I was a kid again, that might be the only thing I could afford. Those arduino boards are maybe $25 at least, and a PIC could be a dollar.

    I do have an arduino, and it's a different class of machine. It runs a kind of Linux, and I actually have it set up as a web server, with wordpress, mySQL databases, and everything.

    A good compromise for usability is the PICAXE, which I still love today. On a $3 chip, you get something that runs BASIC, as A/D converters, a UART to communicate by serial with your computer, and a free development environment. A couple external resistors, and a serial port on your computer are pretty much all you need. For a simple controller, small space, low parts count, that may be all that I need. Many of my little experiments run on the PICAXE. If there were something that needed more performance, I could go to an actual PIC and write in assembly, but I haven't found a need for that, yet.
     
  3. tshuck

    Well-Known Member

    Oct 18, 2012
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    PICs come in a huge variety of flavors from a unit cost of $0.50, 6-pin controllers to 32-bit devices that give ARM M3 a run for its money.

    I'll have to assume you mean the mid-range 8-bit devices.

    Almost all PICs have a (minimum) 10-bit ADC, where I've seen plenty of Atmel chips that either don't have any, or an 8-bit ADC.

    Microchip seems to bring innovative peripherals that Atmel doesn't offer (of course, I could be wrong in this as I am biased toward using PIC, so I may miss something from Atmel).

    I'd have to disagree with the not as user friendly comment. I really like the way Microchip lays out their datasheets and have found Atmel datasheets to be quite confusing at times. That plays very much into my experience in using their products.
     
  4. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    The PIC micros are workhorses, not toys. If you are just trying to develop a one-off item quickly then using an Arduino or similar may be a good option, particularly for those without a lot of experience in embedded system design. But if you are wanting to design a product for commercial scale production, then you are going to be willing to trade a lot of learning effort and development time for the kind of cost reductions you get with going with a PIC or similar.
     
  5. KLillie

    Thread Starter Member

    May 31, 2014
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    Besides the ARM, it seems like the run of the mill atmel runs at either 16 or 20 Mhz. Do they have PICs that run faster and are still cheap?
     
  6. KLillie

    Thread Starter Member

    May 31, 2014
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    Sorry. I already answered my own question! I gotta check this out some more. So cool. Thanks!
     
  7. nsaspook

    AAC Fanatic!

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  8. WBahn

    Moderator

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    Why not go to the Microchip website and find out?

    A few seconds will reveal that they have 64MHz parts that are as low as $1.16 in quantities of 5,000.
     
  9. KLillie

    Thread Starter Member

    May 31, 2014
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    I did. I am amazed. Cheap and strong. Do you guys have favorites? And/or the best way to start with PIC?
     
  10. WBahn

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    There are a number of ways to get started. Much of the Microchip software is free and you can get programmers pretty cheaply -- or you can get more fully featured programmers that have a lot of bells and whistles and a corresponding price tag. I'd recommend getting a lower-priced programmer at first and getting some small, cheap processors and just start playing with them. You can learn a lot by just doing the "blinking light" type projects (light chasers, seven-segment displays, keypad interfaces, small servo motor controllers, etc.). That would be a path if you don't have any specific project objectives in mind.
     
  11. Hypatia's Protege

    Distinguished Member

    Mar 1, 2015
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    For a 'gentle entry' you may wish to investigate the offerings of "MicroEngineering Labs" :)

    Best regards
    HP
     
  12. Roderick Young

    Member

    Feb 22, 2015
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    The PICAXE stuff is here. If you want to start easy, you can get an 08M2 or 14M2 for a few dollars, and have an LED flashing in about 20 minutes. You'll be shielded from the instruction set of the PIC, but will learn about the chip's capabilities, such as the A/D converter, touch sensor, even multi-tasking. A PICAXE can go a long way - I'm using one right now as the control element for a switching regulator. When you're ready to move into serious programming, you can get a real PIC, and write your own software.
     
  13. MaxHeadRoom

    Expert

    Jul 18, 2013
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    The 16f628a is a popular Pic starter, and there are many projects out there based on this chip.
    http://www.winpicprog.co.uk/pic_tutorial.htm
    Then gravitate to the 18F series, especially if you go the assembler route.
    Max.
     
  14. ErnieM

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 24, 2011
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    When you are just beginning with embedded devices you have these problems to contend with: writing code, compiling code, programming the code into the processor, the hardware that programs the processor, and the hardware around the processor. And you have to solve all these problems simultaneously.

    Therefor until you get some experience with your processor of choice I strongly suggest you get a kit containing a programmer, a processor board, and some lessons showing how to program the features of the processor. I suggest you start with the Microchip PICkit 3 Starter kit. For about $65USD you get a board with a push button, a potentiometer, some LEDs, and a general breadboarding area. You also get the PICkit 3 which not only can program devices but debug them by watching the code as it is actually running inside your hardware.

    That link lets you download the tutorials to get an idea what you are getting into. Just keep in mind things are changing so fast right now at Microchip that the compiler used may be obsolete (so you need to know the place where they archive them) or may need some tweaks to work with the latest compiler. But the real good news is you can download C compilers for free that are very goo tools.
     
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  15. KLillie

    Thread Starter Member

    May 31, 2014
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    I can certainly see all your passion for the PIC. Thanks guys. I'm looking at the PIC16F1619-I/P . It has a lot for a little ($1.51). That with the PicKit 3 would probably keep me occupied (learning) for the rest of my life. When you combine the electronics (external hardware), the programming (C, C++?, Assembly!?) and this chip (architecture, pins, instructions) my mind shirks! I downloaded the MPLAB X IDE 2.3 and the MPLAB® XC Compiler just to have it ready. To hijack my own thread, what plugins do you recommend? The code configurator looks cool.
     
  16. MaxHeadRoom

    Expert

    Jul 18, 2013
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    I started out with the modular boards from Nigel Goodwins site, and now also have the PICDEM 2 Demo board, it has features that exercise just about every module that the Pic features, 18/28/40 pin, Usart, Analogue,digital, i2c, PWM, crystal options, LCD, ICD socket for programming, it comes with example source code in assembler and C.
    Max.
     
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