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?
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.
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
You will need the following software.
- An IDE (Integrated Development Environment) – Used to Write, Edit and compile programs. (Available Free of Cost from the Manufacturer of PIC MCUs)
- 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).
- 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.
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.
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.