PIC Programming Help?


I've come up with a project for next year's holiday display, and I think I might want to build 7 or 8 copies of a single microcontroller circuit. I need to use a controller that's relatively cheap, and it seems reasonable to consider the PIC.


So, I'm looking for good links, either online or books, to get started.


I've never programmed embedded systems professionally, but I've done 3 68HC11 projects, all of them written in assembler, one of them hard real time (but still pretty simple, overall).


I'm also looking for a decent programmer, and perhaps a C compiler.


Recommendations?


Comments (13)

  1. Jesse Arnold says:

    a great resource is http://www.microchip.com. Tons of info, don’t buy their programmers unless you can expense it. I’m still using a home-built programmer from a 5 year old kit. There is also a sourceforge project to for the programmer software at http://pp06.sourceforge.net/

    Good luck!

  2. Lazyboa says:

    C compiler… IAR Embedded Workbench maybe

    http://www.iar.com/Products/EW/

  3. I work with Microchip tools.

    – For programming I still use the dear old PICStart Plus that you can periodically update with new firmware provided by Microchip (so that it can support new micros)

    – For debugging I actually use MPLAB ICD2 (via USB) that permits you to do step-by-step debugging using MPLAB software (the software is free, ICD2 is cheap).

    I also have the MPLAB-ICE (expensive) that is a hardware emulator. The Pro is that you can debug very wuickly and you have a backtrace memory so that you can understand what the micro did. The Cons is that you have to buy separate adapters for each type of Micro you want to emulate.

    For small apps ICD2 is great and cheap and this is why I suggest it.

    I also tested many compilers and I strongly suggest CCS (http://www.ccsinfo.com) that is a C compiler.

    Anyway normally I use straight assembler that is not difficult since PICs are risc and very easy to use. Again, I suggest you to use assembler only.

    Maybe one day we’ll use SPOT for PICs 🙂

    If you need other info, ping me!

  4. Peter Ibbotson says:

    PIC don’t have a free C compiler (I think there is a freebie eval version)

    Only the 18 series parts really have a C friendly architecture.

    I ended up buying the PICDEM 2 Plus board with the MPLAB programmer (Part number DV164006). This is enough to deal with most of current shipping PIC parts

    (You asked this back in december too)

    I’ve also been hearing good things about the Atmel range.

    The PIC website does have some fairly reasonable "getting started" stuff on it. I suspect if you’ve done embedded systems before it’ll all come second nature although some bits like jumping to return(n) statements to generate lookup tables is a bit weird. (there is some fun to do with setting code segments thats required to make this work)

    For the 16 series parts once you figure out the basic accumulator architecture they have the rest really is simple. The 18 series parts are a lot easier to deal with and if you’ve used something with a zero page for pointer structure it probably won’t be too hard.

  5. Eric,

    Look no further than the AVR chips by Atmel. They’re 8-bit, cheap, extremely easy to program in assembly or using the GCC C compiler, and Atmel provides an EXCELLENT free IDE/simulator.

    While you can program AVR chips with 3 wires without even removing them from a finished system, I went ahead and got the STK-500 kit to use as a programmer and test bed. It has turned out to be a great way to get started. Here’s a link to it: http://www.atmel.com/dyn/products/tools_card.asp?tool_id=2735

    The WinAVR project on sourceforge (http://winavr.sourceforge.net/) provides the set of tools for using the GCC C compiler. Switching from assembly to C on microprocessors increased my productivity like switching to C# from C++ on PCs.

    I’ve been playing with AVR chips for several months now and I’ve been very pleased. There are quite a few good resources on the web including Atmel’s own site and data sheets.

    Josh

  6. Skip the PIC and go Zilog instead:

    http://www.zilog.com

    They have some z8 Encore and Encore XP parts that are PIC killers. Better peripherals, the dev kits are cheapo and you can kit an entire IDE with C compiler, assembler and linker from Zilog’s site for free.

    Search Digikey’s site for z8F:

    http://www.digikey.com

    Steven J. Ackerman, Consultant

    ACS, Sarasota, Florida

    http://www.acscontrol.com

    http://spaces.msn.com/members/sjackerman

  7. Billy Chism says:

    Microchip has a great lineup, great tools and support and good prices. I wouldn’t use anything else. I used a homemade programmer for a while but switched to the PicStart Plus programmer after having intermittent problems. It’s worth the cost. I don’t have an ICD.

    I use the PIC16F628 @20MHz. It costs $3.69 at jameco.com

    If you’re looking for a website that discusses microcontrollers AND holiday displays, check out the forum on http://www.planetchristmas.com. Lots of good information on it. I’ve built my own display controller from scratch. It’s a great project to work on. Would be glad to share assembly code with you.

  8. Billy Chism says:

    Microchip has a great lineup, great tools and support and good prices. I wouldn’t use anything else. I used a homemade programmer for a while but switched to the PicStart Plus programmer after having intermittent problems. It’s worth the cost. I don’t have an ICD.

    I use the PIC16F628 @20MHz. It costs $3.69 at jameco.com

    If you’re looking for a website that discusses microcontrollers AND holiday displays, check out the forum on http://www.planetchristmas.com. Lots of good information on it. I’ve built my own display controller from scratch. It’s a great project to work on. Would be glad to share assembly code with you.

  9. Ben Andrews says:

    Some additional insights…

    PicBasic Pro is actually rather credible as a development environment – I’ve been very pleasantly surprised at the results. You can get a decent amount done using http://www.compilespot.com/ without having to purchase the compiler itself.

    For programmers, the KitsRUs programmers from http://www.kitsrus.com/ have treated me very well for a very low sum of money. I use a K150V2 with a ZIF socket http://www.kitsrus.com/upuc.html#k150 and couldn’t be happier.

    For prototyping, remember you can do samples ordering direct from Microchip. If board space isn’t a concern, the 16F877A and 18F458 parts have a whole bunch of horsepower for small volume productions… it helps when you don’t have to worry about chip resources as much, and it only adds a few bucks (or nothing, with creative sample ordering!) to the bill of materials.

    And of course, the ultimate link is the PicList. http://www.piclist.com/

Skip to main content