Electrical Engineering Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for electronics and electrical engineering professionals, students, and enthusiasts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

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?

share|improve this question
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
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
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.

share|improve this answer

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.

share|improve this answer
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 ...)

share|improve this answer
+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.

share|improve this answer
Thanks for the additional option! – sacredfaith Dec 12 '12 at 16:52

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.