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PIC Micro Starter Question

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Newbie level 4
Jul 30, 2009
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Hey, I need some advice.
I understand circuitry and higher level programming, but now I'm trying to jump into PIC Micro kinda projects.
So before I go and spend a ton of money on useless things, I'd like you guys to set me straight.

Recommend anything to help me start off? Starter kits perhaps?


check out this site

**broken link removed**

it should tell you everything you need to know to get started, plus they sell the pickit2 starter kit for about $50.

Enjoy, PICs are fun to play with :)


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Ah thanks!
I wasn't sure if Microchip's starter kits were any good.
It's hard to find reviews or even a straightforward discussion on some of these things.

So I'll check it out and see what happens.

Since PICs require very little external circuitry, I would recommend buying a solderless breadboard and a PIC in a DIP package (e.g. PIC18F2520) and making your own board. You could find a well-documented kit online with a published schematic and build it on the breadboard. It could take a little longer than buying a kit. But you will learn more, you'll be more confident with hardware, and you'll be able to prototype your more application-specific stuff on the same breadboard.


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Yeah, there's no way I'm going to solder down my first few projects.
I'd like to reuse the materials.
I'll have get a breadboard for that.

I do have a few important questions though~

1)How do you know which PIC is right for the job? I assume if you have enough IO pins, speed, and memory, it'll work?

2)Multiple PICs can be used to handle a job, but they can't communicate with other brand name micro processors and controllers like Intel, right?

3)I guess most people usually end up making their own JDM programmers instead of buying them?

**I'm just poking at some of the theory for confidence basically...**

jmpeer said:
2)Multiple PICs can be used to handle a job, but they can't communicate with other brand name micro processors and controllers like Intel, right?
Why not? PICs can communicate with other things via:
- Direct digital I/O connections. E.g. when controller A drives some line high, controller B performs some task. Archaic, but easy to get going.
- UART serial (RS232, RS485). Very common. Easy to get going.
- I2C. Both master and slave*
- SPI. Both master and slave*
- Some of the PICs can do USB*
- Some of the PICs can do CAN*

* I2C slave, SPI slave, USB, CAN may be considered moderately advanced topics.


3)I guess most people usually end up making their own JDM programmers instead of buying them?

You really want to avoid the JDM and Parallel port programmers , they may work but are limited in their range and generally cause more problems than they are worth.
Spend your money on a Pickit2 from Microchip or make your own as shown in this forum - sample plan attached ( you do have to program its chip in the first place)

Also agree with Kender, the 18F range are much easier to use, the 18F1320 or 18F2520 are good chips to use - most web projects are based on the 16F chip but it is usually easy enough to convert the code to the 18Fs

Alrighty then.
I decided I'll go and get the PICkit 2 Starter Kit.

Thanks for the info!
I'll probably see you later! ^^


You cannot go wrong with the PK2 and the Starter kit is good value, but the better buy is the Debugger version, it is very similar to the Starter kit but uses a slightly better Pic chip that can be run under Mplab as a real time debugger.
Not something you will probably use straight away but it can be usefull once you get going.

You can also buy just the Pickit2 on its own without any little pcb and chip, but it does still include the cds and the usb cable.
( all the stuff on the cds are free downloads from the Microchip site anyway - you can download MPLAB IDE and get assembler coding now ! - they have free/ trial versions of C as well )

Yeah, I noticed the PIC is a little better.
But I was a little hesitant because I've never seen a square PIC with a high number of pins used on a breadboard project.
The pins seem small and condensed, can you even put them on a solderless breadboard?

If they require something other than the simpler PICs with low pin counts, then I need to know. But, I have until Tuesday to make my order anyways.


The Starter kit uses the 20 pin 16F690 chip which cannot directly use the Debugger function - forget about using all the adaptors that are available to make it do so - its not worth it.
However, the picture shows it to be fitted to an ic socket so you could change the chip for something pin compatible.

The Debugger board uses a 44 pin SMD, Surface Mount Device, which is soldered directly to the pcb and cannot be changed.

There is little between them, but my choice would be the debugger board as it does give you that facility to try later on.

On a more practical note, neither board will be much use long term, they are really just to give you a proven working board to start your initial programs on such as the proverbial flashing a led, but for this introduction alone either one is worth it.

Also when you actually get your pcb you will be amazed how small they are, and again you will soon move onto a larger bread board or make your own pcb to work on - but don't think about all that yet as will be more obvious once you have mastered the Starter or Debugger Kit.

good luck

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