After my tutorial series on Atmel AVR Microcontrollers
and I have planed to start a similar tutorial series on Microchip
PIC Microcontrollers. PIC Family of Micros are popular among hobbyists as they
are easily available, easy to use and are low cost. In the first couple of tutorial
we will make/collect hardware and software tools which will be required to experiment
with PIC MCUs. Once you have the basic tools up and running we will proceed
to learning how to do basic stuffs with PICs, like setting and using PORTs,
Controlling LEDs, Relays, Motors etc. These will help you as building blocks
that will help you develop your own project and understand and implement thousands
of PIC MCU projects out there in Magazines and Internet.

These tutorials assumes that you are a beginner with Microcontroller i.e. having
no or little experience with them.

What is a Microcontroller?

Ans: For
information of "What is a microcontroller?" and how it can help you
see this link
.

Selecting A Microcontroller

We will start our journey with PIC16F877A and PIC16F628A Microcontrollers.
Then we will move to high performance 18F core microcontrollers like PIC18F2550
and PIC18F4550.

Tools Required

What hardware
and software tools you will need is described in this page
. The article
also gives you the over all process of development with MCUs. The article was
written for Atmel AVR Microcontrollers but
the same process is applicable for Microchip
PICs
too. So by now you must have got that the most important tool you need
is a Programmer.

A PIC Programmer.

A PIC Programmer will be used to transfer the final hex file from your PC to
the PIC Microcontroller. There are many ready made PIC programmers available
from many vendors. A good programmer is from Olimex.
European Users can buy directly from them. US Users can buy from US Reseller
Sparkfun
. Please see the worldwide
distributors of Olimex
products. And for my Indian Friends I am designing
some PIC programmers they will be available shortly from shop.eXtremeElectronics.co.in

Low Cost PIC Programmer form Olimex

 

Making a Low Cost PIC Programmer

If you have basic knowledge about electronics and simple electronics assembly
skills then you can easily make a PIC programmer at home ! How to do this will
be described in details in next tutorial.

Low Cost Home Made PIC Programmer

Low Cost Home Made PIC Programmer

 

Software Required

You will need the following software.

  1. An IDE (Integrated Development Environment) – Used to Write,
    Edit and compile programs. (Available Free of Cost from the Manufacturer of
    PIC MCUs)
  2. A C Compiler – This will convert your C program to machine
    language. It will be integrated in above IDE as a plug in. (Lite Version Available
    Free of Cost).
  3. A Programmer Software – Will act as an Interface between
    you and programmer hardware. Will help you to browse hex file in your hard
    drive and burn (transfer) them to PIC MCU (Free)

The details about each software will be given in subsequent tutorials.

Development Board.

It is a simple circuit board containing PIC MCU, it’s power supply and some
basic circuitry for operation of PIC MCU. It also has some prototyping space.
The development board greatly ease you life as a developer. Every time you want
to prototype a project you have to make the circuit specific to that project
only, while the rest "basic" connection is already done and well tested
for you.

Again you can make a Development board yourself or buy one. Good development
boards are available from Olimex. Indian Friends can buy from shop.eXtremeElectronics.co.in
(Have to wait some time as they are not available at the moment).

40 PIN PIC Development Board from Olimex

40 PIN PIC Development Board from Olimex.

 

In the first few tutorial we will not be using a development board. We will
prototype them in a simple
bread board
.

That’s it for now. Meet you in next tutorial. Till then goodbye. And Don’t
forget to post your comments ! They will help better development for coming
tutorials.