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Buying first PIC

Discussion in 'General Electronics Discussion' started by wannabegeek, Jun 29, 2013.

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  1. wannabegeek

    wannabegeek

    133
    0
    Aug 17, 2011
    Hi all,

    I'm ready to get into uC....and excited !!!

    I think I want to start with the PIC12. I run Linux and found a decent web page that describes the programming process for Linux: http://hackaday.com/2010/11/03/how-to-program-pics-using-linux/

    As I understand it, I need the programmer....a PICkit2 .

    Any advice...?

    My first project I was considering using it to do some basic DSP stuff like integrating and an filtering analog signal from a photodiode.
     
  2. (*steve*)

    (*steve*) ¡sǝpodᴉʇuɐ ǝɥʇ ɹɐǝɥd Moderator

    25,496
    2,837
    Jan 21, 2010
    The first thing you should be looking at (as a beginner) is:

    1) What amount of support is there in the net?
    2) What is the development environment and is it free/low cost?
    3) Do lots of people use that development environment (see (1))?
    4) Am I comfortable with the development environment -- especially the language.?
    5) What ability is there to simulate the operation of my software/hardware before programming the chip?
    6) What do I need to program the chip? How expensive is it? And if I have multiple options, which is most popular? (see (1)).

    Once you learn the basics, moving to another uC is not too hard. But learning on some devices is far easier than others -- especially when you start with a device that was designed with learning in mind.

    To this end, you would be well advised to at least take a glance at the PICaxe and the Arduino. They come at the problem from different directions, and one is more scalable than the other, but either platform might be a good place to start.

    I tend to favour atmel chips now (I have some arduino boards, but I eschew shields and other expensive ways to achieve often simple ends). A colleague of mine has remained with PICaxe chips and has quite happily developed a number of projects of his own using them.

    If you finally decide to go PIC12x, PikKit2, and whatever development environment you decide on, good luck. I hope it's the right choice for you. (do PIC12x series have DSP's? I thought you'd be looking at something a little beefier for that)
     
  3. wannabegeek

    wannabegeek

    133
    0
    Aug 17, 2011
    Thanks Steve...all very good points that are easy to forget about when excited by something...

    As it turns out, Linux has a free compiler sdcc for turning C into uC assmebler...it's not perfect but there are some chips which work better than others...namely PIC.

    I like writing in C which I don't ever do for work. As for simulation, I hadn't really thought of that beyond the usual MATLAB that I do when considering a mathematical treatment of something. I should really get into a circuit sim program soon anyways...but that wasn't a consideration.

    As for DSP, I'm thinking of really simple stuff, like a running average for a low pass filter. Some convolution integrals for other filters..

    I'm also considering getting my electronics much improved and looking at an entry level positions in the test field. I like interfacing devices a lot....

    Cheers,
    wbg
     
  4. W4GNS

    W4GNS

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    Oct 27, 2012
  5. wannabegeek

    wannabegeek

    133
    0
    Aug 17, 2011
  6. NuLED

    NuLED

    294
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    Jan 7, 2012
    I am almost in exactly the same situation as you. Ironically, I am currently in the midst of filling up my basic electronics gaps before I move on to the microcontrollers.

    I have a programming background so I don't think I will have any problem with the assembler or C languages. In fact the thing that appeals to me is that I will work directly with the hardware, and it is refreshing, because I can do whatever the heck I want with with the instruction set of the CPU and not even worry at all about all these user interfaces or protocols or whatever.

    Speaking just as a beginner, it looked to me like I had two choices: Either Atmel (which the Arduino is based on) or the PIC platform. Dave Jones the DMM man recommended PIC and I like his rationale. You can try to find his YouTube where he talks about it. Having said that I will try Atmel also but initially I will go with PIC.

    From what I understand, you need to get the PICKIT 3 STARTER KIT. I only discovered this after a lot of questions and asking around. Unfortunately it does not seem like the Microchip website is very newbie friendly.

    Last year I was looking into Atmel and Arduino and I think I came across the development environment (IDE) for it and from what I recall it seemed a bit more polished, but I was not 100% able to really get into it (busy with work). This year I am totally committed.

    You can buy the uC from places like Mouser and the Starter Kit comes with 2 chips I think. There are other starter kits but my research indicated that the PICKIT 3 STARTER KIT is the one to get. I think the other ones are the debugger kit or something like that. To make it more confusing, there are companies OTHER than Microchip making the same starter kits and they even call them the PICKIT 3 or whatever. Super confusing.

    You can go and download the PDF files from Microchip and read them first. They have the manuals for the kit and even for the IDE. I have not fully read them yet as I am still busy with basic electronics.

    EDIT: The MPLAB-X seems to run off the Java runtime. I would have preferred native but hopefully they made it robust and good. My preferred platform is OS X actually but doesn't matter THAT much.
     
    Last edited: Jun 30, 2013
  7. NuLED

    NuLED

    294
    0
    Jan 7, 2012
    Another update:

    The PICkit 3 Debug Express that you see, is actually an OLDER PRODUCT compared to the STARTER KIT that I mentioned. I only found this out after a lot of tedious surfing around. And I think there is no assembler example code for it (there is for the starter kit).

    Let me know if what I told you is incorrect. Again, they made it really hard for me to get all this info. But I think the hard part is just getting started.
     
  8. wannabegeek

    wannabegeek

    133
    0
    Aug 17, 2011
    Hi NuLED, I hope we can help each other out in the future....

    My reading has suggested that the PICKit3 programmer has no driver support for Linux....that's why the Hackaday article says the PICKit2 programmer....

    I've already ordered it...If I were using Windows, I would have bought a Radio Shack special $19.67 ( best price actually...) Velleman k8055 which is a solder yourself kit.

    The k8055 is cool looking, it has sockets for 2^n pin chips, it's cheap !, RS232 only ( so what ), did I say $20...nice looking ground plane board provided...very easy looking kit.

    But alas, no DRIVERS for Linux...

    Even though I want to learn assembler too, I'd like to use sdcc as well.

    As for the MPLAB being Java, well, I'm used to Eclipse what can I say...I'm not a real developer yet perhaps...

    I've got my Complex Analysis book out and been reading about the Z transform...can't wait to crank out some filters....after making LED's light up .... :)

    Cheers,
    wbg
     
  9. NuLED

    NuLED

    294
    0
    Jan 7, 2012
    Let's touch base again later; I think I will need a couple of months more, before I can say anything useful about it.

    Good luck to us both :-D
     
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