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Background: Despite having a degree in Computer Engineering, working for 2 years as a vb.net developer, and someone that enjoys messing around with electronics. I've narrowed my buying options down to the PICKIT 3 or the ICD 3. Cost differential aside, I'd like to get something that I can get started with quickly, and will 'grow' with me as a PIC developer. As such, I'm heavily leaning towards the ICD 3. I'd rather invest in something good up front, then only wish I bought the better thing later. I've fried a power supply to my computer trying to build something before, so the option to replace the ICD 3 is lucrative to me.

Question: Is it fairly common to fry a programmer during the learning process of PIC programming development? Worded differently, and based on your experience, would you agree that the option to replace the programmer outright is valuable?

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I've never blown up a programmer, because I've always left the programming pins dedicated to programming. The PICKIT is pretty capable and robust. –  pjc50 Dec 12 '12 at 15:00
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I assume that by "fry a programmer", you are referring to people who write MCU code and not a little thing that interfaces your computer to the debug port on the MCU. Given that: Yes it is common to fry a programmer for each project. It appeases the hardware gods and makes it easier to get through EMI/ESD testing. –  user3624 Dec 12 '12 at 16:42

4 Answers 4

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I've used both PICkit 3s and ICD 3s. Never had a problem so far with the PICkits, but have fried a couple of ICD 3s.

The ICD 3s of course are more expensive (and much faster). The good thing though is the ICD 3s have a lifetime warranty; if you have a problem with one, they include a little test board to verify whether the problem is in the ICD 3 or your circuit. If the test results in an error message, then you can send the ICD 3 in and they will replace it free of charge. I have done this twice in the last year and a half, no questions asked.

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I damaged the power supply section of the first generation PICkit 2 when I was getting started. Then I looked at the schematic and fixed it.

It is important to understand how your tools work. Troubleshooting broken electronics is not something to fear: If you are getting into electronics, this is exactly what you will be spending most of your time doing.

The PICkit 2 cut some corners. More advanced programmers will be harder to damage. Still, you should have some idea what you're doing.

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Truthful and well rounded, thanks for the feedback! –  sacredfaith Dec 12 '12 at 20:52

Cooking programmers can and does happen, especially if your micro is a part of a bigger system that operates at higher power levels (like an industrial controller or a power supply).

If you compare the PICkit3 and the ICD3, there's quite a bit of commonality:

enter image description here

To me, it's always worth keeping a spare device on hand in case the primary one breaks. PICkit3s are cheap enough to be a backup, as well as a perfectly good programmer and reasonably good debugger if something happens to your 'better' device.

(I'm not sure how strong ICD3s are, but at my previous employer we had a bonepile of fried ICD2s ...)

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+1 for the incredibly helpful diagram! Thanks so much! –  sacredfaith Dec 12 '12 at 20:51

I've never blown up a programmer. I've had some forward compatibility issues with the earlier Microchip ICD's, getting stuck w/o current OS drivers. After that, I've been an incredibly faithful user of the CCS MachX programmer. It's very useful to be able to slam a dip into a ZIF and program it, and you still retain your ICP ability. If you're leaning toward the more expensive option, you might want to consider that one instead.

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Thanks for the additional option! –  sacredfaith Dec 12 '12 at 16:52

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