PIC, need help to choose one.

Discussion in 'Embedded Systems and Microcontrollers' started by dsp_redux, May 15, 2009.

  1. dsp_redux

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Apr 11, 2009
    182
    5
    I am thinking of buying a programmer for different projects, to have fun at home. I was looking in the direction of the Microchip Explorer 16, since I already worked with Microchip's dsPICDEM 2 board in my uC classes. (dsPIC30F4013). The Explorer 16 is compatible with the PIC24 and the dsPIC33F. I want something to program chip, non commercial stuff but who knows? A friend of mine already has an AVR STK, so I tought I'd go with PICs and borrow his board from time to time. What do you think of the Explorer 16? Should I go with a dev. board or a starter kit? 300$ surely is affordable since I've got lots of projects popping in my mind. Wireless / ZigBee capabilities... will it be that complicated to mount it on a PCB (out of the demo board)?
     
  2. Los Frijoles

    Member

    May 16, 2009
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    0
    I come from a shoestring budget background and I was able to start experimenting with pics with $20 to build a simple programmer and samples (from back in 2005 when they were free). Starter kits are nice, but they don't easily interface into your own projects (do you honestly want to buy a $300 kit every time you want to do something new?). The explorer 16 could work as a project board and could be integrated into a project enclosure I guess, but I think it looks more suited to development. You could develop on one of those boards and when you are ready to put it into a project you could design your own pcb that would fit all your needed components into it (thats what I do, except I use a breadboard instead of a dev board).
     
  3. dsp_redux

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Apr 11, 2009
    182
    5
    Would you suggest something instead? Building my own programmer + PSU + buy a small LCD and a couple of leds would cost me under 20$ Thinking about that... I think I already have a small lcd...
     
  4. Los Frijoles

    Member

    May 16, 2009
    10
    0
    Well, at the moment I am working on building a programmer for my 24F chips which I anticipate is worth about $30 (but it will only run me about $15), so you might want to invest in a programmer like ICD2 if you want to get started quickly. As long as it has ICSP capability (Enhanced ICSP is even better) you should have no trouble at all. My programmer that cost $20 was a modified JDM programmer for 16F chips and worked quite well on all my various 16F chips until recently when a transistor failed (I haven't bothered to replace it...i just bought a USB-based programmer instead).

    I haved always used breadboards for prototyping and design. The problem with breadboarding 24F chips is that most (if not all) of them are surface mounted and require conversion boards to work right. There are a few dsPICs that are DIP packaged, but they don't have the I/O or memory capacities that the surface mounted versions do.

    What you could do is design something of your own that is similar to the Explorer 16 for prototyping, but doesn't have as many features that you won't use. You could also design a "universal" socket that you would solder one of those surface mount packages to and plug it into the board much like a processor socket on a motherboard. And, instead of having all the parts mounted on the board itself, just put a bunch of ribbon cable connectors and run a cable to a breadboard to connect the I/O to a breadboard (you will probably want every other wire to be a ground to minimize noise). After creating your application on this dev board, create the board specifically for the project and then move onto the next one with your dev board.

    For actual PCB making, BatchPCB and Olimex are probably your best bet. BatchPCB does boards for $2.50/in^2 ($10 flat rate shipping) and Olimex will do your boards for ~$40 for a 6.3x3.9 panel with whatever you want on it (shipping is ~$10).

    But...this is all just the way I would do it. It all really depends on what you are trying to make: Experiment projects, appliance-like projects, etc.
     
  5. dsp_redux

    Thread Starter Active Member

    Apr 11, 2009
    182
    5
    I'll try to be a bit more specific. I'm thinking about buying the PicKit 2 (USB) and prototying on a breadboard. I'm using a mac, so first I guess I'll have to buy the PicKit 2 since I don't have any serial ports (only usb) and the schematics I found for programmers are for legacy ports I guess. Then I'll need to program my chip via the command line (really not an issue in my case) using PKCMD. For the testing, I'll design my circuits for my needs. I'll be mostly working with 16-bits PIC/dsPIC. Or maybe you know of a programmer that'll work for dsPIC30F/33F and PIC24F, and connects to the computer through USB?
     
  6. THE_RB

    AAC Fanatic!

    Feb 11, 2008
    5,435
    1,305
    Maybe have a look at;
    http://www.mikroe.com/en/tools/easydspic4/

    It connects via USB. Has TONS of features. Free C compiler (with rom/ram limits) but fairly cheap to buy the full C compiler.

    Having every PIC pin with a led and pushbutton available is very nice, likewise the text and graphic LCD which plug right in.

    They have a heap of plug in peripheral boards too, all quite cheap.
     
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