Whats the cheapest way to start pic programming?

Thread Starter

reaman4ever

Joined Sep 2, 2007
16
I'm looking to start PIC programming, but I don't want to spend $100 for a pre-made board to program the PIC with. Does anyone have a link to a circuit that I can build by myself to program a pic with (preferably in the PIC 16 family, and usb compatible). Also any suggestions for some software that I can program in C++ with? I have looked around online, and there are a ton, but I don't know which are good/ up to date.
Thank you
 

sax1johno

Joined Oct 20, 2007
17
I bought a kit from Fry's electronics for ~$65. It seems to be working quite well so far and has USB drivers. The only issue I have is that the program and drivers work in Windows Only -- but other than that is seems to be quite effective.

It is sold by kitsrus.com and is called the KIT149. Make sure you get "version E" -- it is the newest and offers safeguards that were not present in Version D or earlier.

Hope this helps.
 

nanovate

Joined May 7, 2007
666
The AVR is another 8-bit microcontroller. It competes with the PIC12/16 & PIC18 and has eveything they have. There is a AVR Dragon that has ISP and JTAG Debugging (32K) for $50. You would also want to get a ZIF connector for it though -- $11. To get a similiar package -- ISP *and* In-Circuit Debug you'd need to pay at least twice as much for the PIC. As far as performance goes it is often faster than the PIC and doesn't have the bank switching quirks that the PIC has. Look at www.avrfreaks.net for more info -- search for PIC vs. AVR (but don't start a new thread on it -- there have countless flame wars). Of course if you have a specific question then feel free.

There are many PIC and AVR experts here at AAC also.

I am also a PIC user but I have access to commercial level tools (many $$). Properly equipped, PIC development is on the same level as AVr development.
 

hgmjr

Joined Jan 28, 2005
9,029
I am also a proponent of AVR and I would like to mention that both the assembly language development software (AVRSTUDIO4) and the C-language development software (WINAVR) are very powerful and FREE.

Will provide more details on where to obtain the software tools if interested.

hgmjr
 

hgmjr

Joined Jan 28, 2005
9,029
Step one is to go to this link on the ATMEL website and download avrstudio4 onto your Windows PC.

Install it and do some test driving to see what you think. This is the assembly language development environment.

Once you have test driven AVRSTUDIO4, we can proceed to installing WINAVR.

Harry
 

Art

Joined Sep 10, 2007
806
Cheapest wat to start pic programming is to order free sample pics from microchip,
biuld a JDM serial programmer, download ICprog and Microchip MPLAB IDE.

Now you're pic programming for just $5 assuming you have a PC.
 

nanovate

Joined May 7, 2007
666
Now you're pic programming for just $5 assuming you have a PC.
Assuming you do not have a laptop that is... JDM requires a "full power" serial port. ;)
Also JDM is not ICSP friendly. But it can be nice DIY project.
 

Art

Joined Sep 10, 2007
806
They're all over the net:
http://www.k9spud.com/jdm/schematic.html
The chip in the circuit is the pic being programmed,
so it's simpler than it looks. Keep all leads as short as possible.

nanovate is right about the RS232 situation with laptops.
The JDM relies on 12 Volt power from the serial port for it's operation.
 

Salgat

Joined Dec 23, 2006
221
Step one is to go to this link on the ATMEL website and download avrstudio4 onto your Windows PC.

Install it and do some test driving to see what you think. This is the assembly language development environment.

Once you have test driven AVRSTUDIO4, we can proceed to installing WINAVR.

Harry
Do you have a specific kit for the 8-bit AVR that you would reccomend?
 

hgmjr

Joined Jan 28, 2005
9,029
The one I have is the stk500 (also sometimes referred to as the atstk500). At just under $84 dollars it packs a lot of stuff on the board.

I will admit that this board is a little pricey and you have to obtain a 12Vdc - 14Vdc power supply (I use a 14V 2amp wall-wart) to complete the kit. However, unlike the development boards for the PIC family, this single board allows development for a very broad range of AVR family of devices.

It is well worth the investment for what it provides. A third of the board is devoted to the programmer section and the balance of the board is populated with the headers, sockets, LEDs and switches to support software and hardware development. It even contains a MAX232 chip dedicated for use as a user assigned serial comms port.

Easy access to the programmer is made available through the AVR ISP header so that once you build your own AVR board with an ISP header, you can then use the stk500 to develop code for your board directly.

hgmjr
 

nanovate

Joined May 7, 2007
666
There is also the AVR Butterfly for $30 that you can put a custom bootloader into which will act as a programmer-- search for "Buttload" for AVR
 

hgmjr

Joined Jan 28, 2005
9,029
There is also the AVR Butterfly for $30 that you can put a custom bootloader into which will act as a programmer-- search for "Buttload" for AVR
Thanks nanovate. I forgot to mention the AVR butterfly board.

The butterfly has one limitation. That is it does not have socketing provisions for other AVR processors. The butterfly board is based on the ATMEGA169 microcontroller. While it is based on only the one AVR device, it makes up for it by providing some very nice extras like a small LCD screen. The lcd is of segmented-character type. It has a multiposition switch and a few other IO goodies.

Digikey has the butterfly on sell for slightly under $22 dollars not including shipping.

hgmjr
 

FredM

Joined Dec 27, 2005
124
Cypress PSoC is my favored.. Not the fastest 8 bit, but utterly configurable and low cost (analogue + digital user definable modules, superb free graphical configuration tool / IDE etc)

This MPU+ is ideal for those electronics projects requiring both analogue and digital circuitry, or unusual mix of on-chip functions. For example.. UART + I2C + 14 independent fast (93kHz) 8 bit PWMs + fast ADC + 2 programmable gain analogue amplifiers + Switched capacitor LPF.. All in a chip costing about £2 (this implemented a MIDI sound module + MIDI controlled audio mixer).. This same chip can be configured to be an entirely different animal.. for example, a 3 input MIDI MERGE unit (3x UART RX) .. etc.. see www.PSoC.co.uk or http://www.cypress.com/

If its just a MCU you want probably best to forget the PSoC.. There are MUCH faster 8 bit MCUs... On the other hand, they are CHEAP, and the development kit is superb..

Using PIC? - http://www.labcenter.co.uk/ has a superb simulation package which allows an entire PIC project to be 'constructed' and tested without touching a board.. I have developed large PIC based projects using VSM, done all the circuit design + coding + debugging, then built the units, and they worked exactly as the simulation. (you need to get a compatable C compiler if you want an easy life.. my compiler was not compatable, so debugging was in assembler).

Compiler / Programmer.. I have used http://www.fored.co.uk/ Wiz-C Pro and Pic Key rogrammer / ICE. Wiz-C Pro has a (compared to VSM extremely limited) in built simulator, but it does allow projects with multiple PICs to be co-developed and co-simulated.




 

Thread Starter

reaman4ever

Joined Sep 2, 2007
16
So I think I have decided to use either a PICkit 2 Debug Express or a PICkit 2 Starter Kit. They are both the same price, but I'm not totally sure what the differences are. It seems the starter kit has some tutorials which is nice, but can't debug as well (or at all?) as the debugger. Can I use the debug express as a programmer or only a debuger? Does anyone have any recommendations on one or the other based on anything else?
Also can either of these be used to program an eeprom?
thanks very much for your help
 
Top