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NEED HELP: PIC,Basic,Programmer aaagghhhh! HELP a newbie make a decision - which starter package sho

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by [email protected], Oct 24, 2007.

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  1. Guest

    Hi all,

    I am trying to pick a PIC to start learning about them.
    I decided to go with PIC not STAMP.
    I also decided to go with the Basic language (any version)
    Many, many, many years ago I used assembly (on the 6800!!) and definitely
    not the way to start now - I wanna keep it simple and fun. Basic I can
    learn now, maybe get into ass'y later.

    I am not new to electronics but I am new to PICs.

    I am trying to decide what programmer to get.

    I am thinking about getting the Vellemar VM111 which is the same as the
    K8048 but assembled. Why you ask? It is the only one I've found here in
    the Vancouver, B.C. area, on Main St. The price is rather steep at $95 (+
    13% in taxes) specially now that the Canadian dollar is higher than the
    US dollar because I've seen the same for U$56 on the web.
    This board does not support any 18FXXXX, is this a problem? I read
    somewhere it might be.

    Will this programmer work with Basic? (or is this a stupid question?)

    Would I be better off making my own programmer to start? (have plenty of
    experience assembling electronics, though not sure I want to spend the
    time unless it is quick) or is it OK to buy the programmer I named above?

    Can I get a Basic and compiler for free or do I have to buy one?

    Please don't start telling me I should be learning assembly.
    Aside from that, any and all suggestions and links are welcome.

    Thank you.
  2. Don't touch that one. It supports a very limited range of PIC's, and
    it's got no ICSP port which is essential.
    Pulling your chip out and putting it back in your circuit every time
    you want to program it really sucks. In-circuit programming is the way
    to go.

    I would find a programmer that supports them all (16, 18, 24 and 30
    series) and be done with it. You will thank yourself later on.

    Don't limit yourself to what you can buy in your local shop.
    Yes, all programs will (or should) accept a standard HEX file which
    the BASIC, C, assembler or whatever compiler puts out.
    No, don't get that one for the reasons mentioned.
    Don't build one. Buy a good pre-built name unit that supports all the
    PICs. You don't want your DIY programmer stuffing up on you and
    wondering if it's your programmer at fault or your circuit.
    No, but C is probably better ;-)

  3. Don McKenzie

    Don McKenzie Guest

    have a look at:
    this should head you off in the right direction.


    Don McKenzie

    Affiliate Program:
    Site Map:
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    No More Damn Spam:

    Serial OLED uses standard micro-SD memory cards.
  4. Guest

    Thanks for your answers. I followed the other poster's suggestion to the
    Dontronics site and I saw a "melabs USB U2 Programmer & Accessories #
    16214" for about U$130 - is this something you'd recommend?

    Also, I'm not quite sure how ICSP works. The picture for this programmer
    shows a ZIF socket so I assume that the PIC has to be removed to be
    programmed also.
    Say for example you've designed a circuit and have made a PCB for it and
    your PIC in soldered in place and everything is working fine. Then if you
    want to re-program the PIC does ICSP mean you can do it right on your
    board without removing the chip? or does it mean that your PCB design has
    to include some sort of an ICSP port that would give the programmer
    access to your chip?

    Sorry to pester you with questions and thank you for your answers.
  5. That other poster is Mr Dontronics himself ;-)
    BTW, he has a good rep, you are safe buying through Dontronics.

    That programmer looks perfect. It uses the ICSP interface and supports
    all the ranges of PICs 16,18, 24, and 30 series.
    Probably the only downside is that it's not MPLAB compatible, which
    means you have to use the software that comes with it. Not a big deal.
    No, the ZIF socket board just allows you to program the chip on it's
    own if that's what you want to do. If you have ICSP on your own board
    then you don't need that ZIF adapter and you can save some $$

    Basically most programmers use the ICSP interface to program the chip,
    but only some of them have the external connector so you can use it in-
    Correct, your design has to have an ICSP header connector, with a
    pinout to match your MELABs board of course.
    Then you never have to remove the chip, ever. You'll thank yourself
    later when you have to reprogram your chip a hundred times during

    Also, the ICSP port allows you to use the Microchip ICD2 in-circuit

  6. Tom2000

    Tom2000 Guest

    For an inexpensive programmer, take a look at Microchip's Pickit2.
    With the MPLAB 7.62a release, the Pickit2 can now program the majority
    of Microchip's processors, even the dsPIC family. The price is
    certainly right.

    If you'd like to ease into microcontroller programming in BASIC, take
    a look at the Picaxe chips ( ). They are PIC
    processors loaded with a program that runs compiled BASIC code. You
    don't need programming hardware; they are programmed via a serial link
    from your PC.

    Their Programming Editor (the entire development system, including
    editor, compiler, program downloader, and even a simulator) is a free

    In Canada, you can order Picaxe chips from HVW Technonogies:

    Experimenting with Picaxe chips is a good way to ease into
    microcontrollers, and let you develop your skills before you move on
    to the PIC family. You can get your feet wet without a significant
    initial investment.

    If you want to start with PICs and a BASIC compiler, I'm afraid I
    can't help you with a specific recommendation, but a Google search
    using keywords 'pic basic compiler free' returns some hits.

    Good luck!

  7. Tom2000

    Tom2000 Guest

    ICSP stands for "In Circuit Serial Progamming" and it means exactly
    what it says. You have it right.

    If you look at any PICs pinouts, you'll see three that have the
    designations MCLR, PGD, and PGC. Those stand for Memory Clear (or the
    PIC's reset pin), Program Data, and Program Clock.

    The ICSP interface consists of MCLR, +V, Ground, PGD, and PGC, in that

    When you design a circuit that includes ICSP, you'd typically include
    a 5-pin male header. Two pins are connected to your circuit's +5 and
    ground wiring. The other three are connected to the processor's MCLR,
    PGD, and PGC pins.

    (You can use the PGD and PGC pins for other functions in your circuit
    with little or no consideration, but if your circuit needs a reset
    button, you generally need to install a diode between the reset pin's
    pullup resistor and the +5 volt line to keep the +13 volt (approx)
    programming voltage away from your 5 volt supply.)

    When it comes time to re-program your PIC, you plug your programmer's
    ICSP cable to your circuit's ICSP header and download your program.
    You don't have to remove your PIC from your board.

    Many programmers include some sort of ZIF socket. If that programmer
    also includes an ICSP header, you don't really need the ZIF socket
    unless you're either just quickly testing a program or if you're
    loading the same program into a number of identical PICs. A ZIF
    socket is a nice feature, but it certainly isn't a necessity. (I have
    two PIC programmers: a Pickit2 and an ICD2 clone. I seldom use the
    ZIF socket on my ICD2 clone.)

    Have fun!

  8. Tom2000

    Tom2000 Guest

    WOW! I had no idea. We have a celebrity in the house!

    A tip of the cap to Mr. Dontronics. Here's hoping that he'll have a
    US distributor some time in the near future.

  9. I would. It's a really good programmer.
    Hash: SHA1

    I know the feeling!
    Nah, don't bother with that one - I got the K8048 and it wasn't
    brilliant. I'd say the only benefit to the K8048 is that, with some
    slight modifications, you can hang bread-board power supplies off the
    regulators on the programmer.

    I've been very satisfied with my ICD2 clone
    ( and use it for all my
    current work. The version I have doesn't do 3.3volts too well, though it
    appears the design has been revised since I purchased; the pictures now
    show a serial connection mine lacks. For $63 it's a bargain.
    You can build what's called a JDM programmer that hangs straight off the
    serial port on your PC. They're slow as hell but cost less than £10 to
    make and will do virtually any chip in production.

    Saying that, I rarely ever program with my JDM - it is so useful to use
    the serial port for debugging.

    - --
    Brendan Gillatt
    brendan {at} brendangillatt {dot} co {dot} uk
    PGP Key:
    Version: GnuPG v1.4.3 (MingW32)

    -----END PGP SIGNATURE-----
  11. default

    default Guest

    I second that one. A whopping $4 investment plus a handful of junk
    room parts and you can be up and running. Well supported with a
    forum. Works fine on DC from 5 volts to about 2.5 volts so a pair of
    AA batteries to keep it in micro amps is all it wants. Easy to learn,
    lots of capability built in.

    If you want fun, this is a great toy.
  12. Suzy

    Suzy Guest

    So Picaxe is not PIC then? (newbie question...)
  13. Guest

    Thank you Dave for all your help and suggestions.
    I think I got enough information to get started :)
  14. Guest

    Thank you Tom!!

    I checked out and it looks good.
    The Picaxe it is to get me started!
    These guys are in Calgary which is not too far to order.
    They have a great site.

    Thanks for your help.
  15. Guest

    Cool. I'll do a search and see, there must be lots of support and project
    sites around.

    Thank you.
  16. Guest

    Very complete information and definitely clarified a bunch of things for
    Thank you so much!
  17. Guest

    I'll do a search for JDM programmer and look into the ICD2.

    Thank you for your help.
  18. default

    default Guest

    It is a pic. The pic is a Microchip brand that is preprogrammed with
    a boot loader. The free software allows one to program in BASIC or
    flowcharts and gives you some simulation capability and debug
    capability - so when you use an on board A/D, for instance, you can
    use your computer to read the digital value being returned by the A/D.

    They range in an 8 pin version to a 40 pin version for varying amounts
    of IO.

    The 8 pin version uses an on-board resonator for a clock and you can
    diddle the clock speed with poke commands. Everything is on the chip
    - clock, IO, memory space, A/D, PWM, driver for a RC servo output,
    sounds, etc..

    I have electronics experience but little controller experience. This
    has been great for learning and without a huge outlay in cash for a
    "development system"

    The development system is a run of the mill windows PC, with a serial
    port, a solderless breadboard, three resistors and a RS232 cable and

    You can download the software and play with programs even before you
    have a chip in hand using the simulator - but it is more fun actually
    using it.

    Lot of data on the web.

    Various companies offer a series of custom PC boards with built in
    power supplies and some breadboard space, but the chip is just as
    happy on a solderless breadboard and with a pair of AA batteries for

    They are rugged but can be killed by exceeding the 5 volt power supply
    or putting a low impedance load on an output pin - the outputs can
    drive 20 milliamps so will work leds, piezo disks, servos, with a
    minimum of circuitry.
  19. Only in so much as it physically uses a PIC chip. It looks like a PIC
    chip, and it smells like PIC chip, but you don't use it like a PIC
    In theory the "PICAXE" could use any similar brand microcontroller as
    it's core. It just happens to use a PIC chip so it's called a PICAXE.
    But when you are programming it you aren't really programming a PIC
    microcontroller as such, you are simply programming a higher level
    interpreted language running code where all the hardware and software
    tool problems are taken care of for you. Same thing with the BASIC

    The problem here from a point of view of microcontroller experience is
    that you can't really claim to be able to have programed PIC
    microcontrollers. PICAXE doesn't look that great on the Resume, but
    they are excellent for beginners to get simple project running.
    Unfortunately PICAXE and BASIC Stamp experience won't help you much
    when you decide to switch to a "real" microcontroller. All the usual
    traps for young players will still be there.

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