Recommend a programmer

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by cork_ie, May 18, 2012.

  1. cork_ie

    Thread Starter Member

    Oct 8, 2011
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    Hi All,
    The day has finally arrived when I have to buy an eeprom programmer. I have no formal electronics or programming training but am always willing to learn. I left school around the same time as pocket calculators hit the shops & am not deluded by my abilities.
    I have worked for 35 years as an auto/marine electrician and have a good working knowledge of basic electronics and made 90% of my own test gear.
    I now want to do some pic projects and basic programming.I understand that there will be some study involved and a whole lot of new learning to do . I would also like some time in the future to be able to read some automotive eeproms.What I am really hoping for is a programmer that is widely used and that I will be able to get some online help now and then if I get stuck in a project.
    Can anyone recommend a good all round programmer with user friendly software. Connection must be to a PC via USB.
    Price is not the overriding factor but is of course an important consideration.
    Many Thanks in anticipation
     
  2. tracecom

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 16, 2010
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  3. cork_ie

    Thread Starter Member

    Oct 8, 2011
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    Preferably both,
    Microcontrollers to get a grip on PIC programming but would like to be able to read Automotive eeproms sometime later on
     
  4. SgtWookie

    Expert

    Jul 17, 2007
    22,182
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    The PICkit 2 is just for Microchip's microcontrollers.

    You will need a more general-purpose universal programmer.
     
  5. MrChips

    Moderator

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Forget the idea of a single all purpose programmer.

    EEPROM programmers and MCU programmers are two completely different things.
    Every device is programmed differently. Luckily, they are all relatively inexpensive. So you will purchase them one at a time as the need arises.

    For learning to program:
    Two places to start, PICkit2 and Arduino.

    Judging from what you have written, I would go with Arduino first.
     
  6. cork_ie

    Thread Starter Member

    Oct 8, 2011
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    Thanks to you all - a great bunch of Guys for your advice so far. I have read a good bit about the Arduino but didn't quite realise that it could be used for reading automotive eeeproms as well. There appears to be a huge online following for this device and it is so versatile that it was already in my "Must investigate further " list .
    I am going to sit down for the rest of the evening, take the phone off the hook and do some online reading.
    Thanks again guys. My speciality is Auto & (leisure) Marine electrical & electronics. I am good at the , high current low volts stuff and modern common rail diesel systems , so if anyone ever needs help or advice please ask or PM me.

    To Sgt. Wookie You appear to have a great depth of knowledge and I have been browsing through the old projects threads and have benefited enormously from reading some of your contributions - so a belated thank you and keep up the good work.
     
  7. Rbeckett

    Member

    Sep 3, 2010
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    I just made the switch from Picaxe to Microchip 16f877A. I wanted to learn C++ but have been shown that may be an error. I have since decided to learn C and use a readilly available free IDE from Microchip also. I ordered several project boards with chips, and a developement board to explore different devices and the required interface for them. I am in no hurry to learn so C will be just fine time wise. If your in a bit of a hurry you can look at Arduino and other basic type languages too. The Arduino is an Atmel processor and uses Basic-like programming with a lean toward C also. I did cars for 35 years plus or minus and graduated about the same era as you. If I can learn it anybody can, I'm a slow learner. The Sarge is an asset on this forum in so many ways. His explanations to me and others have taught me literally how to do basic electronics betty crocker style. Learn to read Datasheets and download one for every device you ever buy and you will be amazed how quickly it all starts to fall together. Good luck, welcome to the club and above all, don't ever get discouraged... The miracle will happen sooner or later.
    Wheelchair Bob
     
  8. Wendy

    Moderator

    Mar 24, 2008
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    cork_ie likes this.
  9. profmuggs

    New Member

    May 21, 2012
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    I had a project last year to program about 700 EPROM chips. I had never programmed chips before but I was able to pick it up quick enough and the project was a success. I chose the Dataman programmer and it worked out perfectly. I think it was around $250.
     
  10. cork_ie

    Thread Starter Member

    Oct 8, 2011
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    OK folks, after much research it appears that my best options are:

    1) To forget about eeprom programming for the moment and get comfortable with programming by doing a few PIC microcontroller projects first. They are cheap and disposable.

    2) Picaxe is proprietary with special firmware already on the chips and are a more expensive option in the long term and possibly less versatile.

    3) Microchip are the Intel of the Microcontroller world and while there are alternatives, they have the widest range, are the easiest to work with and the most universally supported.

    4) MPLAB is the best (and free ) software available for a beginner. There are 2 versions, MPLAB IDE 8.85 and the newer MPLAB X. It appears that MPLAB X is an all new breed and will eventually be the dominant offering so a beginner might as well start off learning to use that rather than MPLAB IDE

    5) PicKit 3 is the newer base version programmer and supersedes a very successful PicKit 2. It works with low (3.3 Volt) chips and works directly with USB ports without any issues. It is cheap enough to buy the original from Microchip and steer well clear of Chinese clones
    ICD 3 is another option but more expensive and suitable for a more advanced user.

    6) PicKit 3 will also allow me to do some in-circuit debugging and learn what it is all about.

    7) I will need to buy or make an additional development board depending on the project in hand and would do well to buy a full PicKit 3 "starter Kit"

    Are my conclusions correct? Any yes's, no's or alternatives suggested.
    Devil's Advocates very welcome.
     
  11. tracecom

    AAC Fanatic!

    Apr 16, 2010
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    I chose MPLAB 8.x rather than MPLAB X because I think MPLAB X is still being refined.
     
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  12. MrChips

    Moderator

    Oct 2, 2009
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    You sound rather certain about your conclusions but I would not go along with it 100%.

    1. Yes

    2. Yes

    3. There are other fish in the sea. Don't get hung up on one manufacturer. There are others that have superior qualities.

    4. I don't have any experience with MPLAB X but I read some users are running into problems. Might be best to stay with Ver 8 for now.

    5. I have been using PICkit2 for awhile. Some people resort to owning both PICkit2 and PICkit3.
    PICkit2 Debug Express is a good way to begin.
    You can save some money by getting the PICkit2 by itself and folks here on AAC will show you how to wire it to an MCU.

    6. Not needed

    7. Not needed. Just get a solderless breadboard (protoboard).
     
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  13. cork_ie

    Thread Starter Member

    Oct 8, 2011
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    Mr. Chips I really appreciate your comprehensive reply.

    I wasn't at all certain about my conclusions, just really a distillation of what I had garnered on-line, here & in other forums and from Microchips website.
    So your advice is really appreciated.
    I have now decided to take your advice and start with the debug express kit and MPLAB IDE. At least it will be a start.

    You also mentioned in a previous post that Arduino is also a good way to go.
    I have yet to complete my research but it appears there are hundreds of options and lots of clones as well. Is there any particular Arduino kit that you recommend for an absolute beginner?
     
  14. MrChips

    Moderator

    Oct 2, 2009
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    Just to clarify things. IDE is the acronym for Integrated Development Environment.
    In the ol' days you had to use a text editor to write the program.
    Then you used a compiler/assembler to produce the binary code.
    Followed by a loader to transfer the code into memory.
    And you were lucky and really sophisticated if you had a runtime debugger.

    Now all of these functions are put into the IDE for your convenience.

    MPLAB is such an environment, an IDE. It does not come with a compiler but you can download HI-TECH C for free and MPLAB will allow you to access it.

    MPLAB X is the latest version of MPLAB IDE.

    On the Arduino, I have not used it but just getting started. You can go to the Arduino forums and see what's going on over there. The Arduino Uno is probably a good place to start.

    If you are now starting out with MCUs you will likely find Arduino a lot simpler and more fun.
     
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