[dorkbotsea-blabber] PIC book and programmer for beginners

J. Aaron Holmes jaholmes at silicon-arcana.com
Thu Mar 16 11:55:11 EST 2006

Hey Joe, group,

I'd just like to put in a good word for the PICKit 1. 
It's a bargain.  Got mine from DigiKey a few years
ago.  I've used it for many PIC-based projects.  The
only downer is that the socket on it is an ordinary
14-pin DIP socket, which is a bit of a pain if you're
constantly dropping new code on the PIC, then plucking
it out and sticking it in a breadboard with your
circuit.  My first PIC-based project using the PICKit
1 was a transmitter controller for amateur radio
transmitter hunts.  If you scroll to the bottom of the
page (link below), you'll see what I did to my PICKit
1 to make it a better programmer:


Since that picture was taken, I've added the remaining
jumper wires to permit programming 14-pin PICs.  This
is a very worthwhile modification, if I do say so
myself ;)

I can also put in a good word for PICC Lite, the C
compiler that comes with the PICKit 1 (and is also a
free download from HI-TECH's web site).  It works
great, and is what I used for the project above. 
However, it doesn't support very many of the 14-pin
PICs though, and the non-Lite version is >$1000 (or
was the last time I checked).  I've used assembly
(always free!) on recent projects and found it to be
much less painful than I expected.

I would also point out that DigiKey currently has
Lumex-brand 16x2 character LCD display modules for
just over $5.00, and I have ported a display driver
for them to the 16F630, which is about the cheapest
14-pin PIC you can get (no ADCs, serial ports,
etc.--about $1.50 each, maybe less).  And the 16F630
is supported by the PICKit 1.  All you need is the
PIC, the display, and a couple of resistors and you're
set.  In advance of my project's completion, I'd be
happy to share the driver code with interested parties
or discuss how to drive them with other PICs

Best Regards,
Aaron, N7OE

--- Joe Benner <bennerj at qwest.net> wrote:

> Hi folks,
> At the bookstore last week I ran across, "123 PIC
> microcontroller
> experiments for the evil genius" by Myke Predko.
> He's written various books
> on microcontrollers and seems to have an emphasis in
> PICs.
> Anyway, what caught my eye in the book is the fact
> that he uses the PICKit 1
> starter kit from Microchip. He also uses the
> PICCLite C compiler and MPLAB
> IDE to work in (both of these are downloadable or
> come with the PICKit).
> Combined, these allow you to write C and assembler
> code for and burn a
> limited set of PICs with a USB connection to a PC.
> The PICKit programmer supports these:
> - PIC12F629, 635, 675, 683, 685, 686, 689, 690
> - PIC16F630, 636, 676, 684, 687, 688, 785, 913, 914,
> 916, 917,846
> and the C compiler supports a subset of those.
> So it's limited. But it costs $36 which seemed
> reasonable to me. And if you
> get the book you'll discover an online 20% discount
> code of PRED05 - which
> takes the whole thing down to under $30 (plus
> shipping). And additional PICs
> are like $1.00 - $1.50-ish.
> He's got some decent samples in the book and the
> PICKit comes with tutorials
> and source. The IDE does simulation, handles the
> programmer, and has an
> interactive debugger - and does syntax coloring.
> Probably more but I wanted
> to see how easy it was to get a program flashed onto
> the chip. Not bad at
> all at that.
> The book has about 20 pages on "Introductory C
> Programming." I taught intro
> and advanced programming for quite a few years and
> his intro assumes a lot
> of existing knowledge that beginners won't have. The
> book will at least
> describe the elements of C that will be usefull to
> learn more about. But I
> think it won't teach C programming. The samples are
> useful.
> Anyway, I thought I'd mention it. The discount code
> is only good until March
> 31, 2006.
> If there are any PIC pros out there with better
> ideas for cheap starter
> kits, please let me know. Actually, if there are any
> recommendations for
> cheap starter kits for any MCU families please let
> me know.  
> This one does seem suitable for getting a fair bit
> of simple logic into a
> circuit at a not-too-nasty price.
> Joe
> >
> .........dorkbot: people doing strange things with
> electricity..........

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