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I'm comfortable with working on Arduino based projects, but I'm looking to start experimenting with PIC programming.

How would I go about building my own pic programmer? I thought there must be a way to save money compared to something like this one I found online.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ ...and if you are in it for a thrill, i've seen some projects that use adruino to program PICs \$\endgroup\$ – miceuz Jun 10 '12 at 23:15
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Compared to AVRs, PICs have a variety of twisty little variations in programming algorithms and interfaces, which require careful study of each "programming interface" document. Been there, done that (up to a limit). Unless you are in it for the thrill I would not recommend it. Get yourself a kit or a pre-built programmer. I sell one, Olin sells a few, and there are the PICkit2 and PICkit3, and the various clones of these two. Take your pic(k). I would recommend a type that is at least capable of in-circuit programming. Unless you are into selling programmed PICs, ex-circuit programming is almost useless.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I have written substantial host code and firmware for PIC programmers, and I agree with Wouter. There are a lot of little gotchas, at least for the general case. By the way, mine don't come with Linux software, so those are probably not what you want. Check out Wouter's or the PicKit3. \$\endgroup\$ – Olin Lathrop Jun 10 '12 at 15:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks guys, at this stage you're advice to buy rather than build is appreciated :) \$\endgroup\$ – ElectroNoob Jun 11 '12 at 7:53
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Buy it, it's less than a tenner! The parts alone will cost you more than that. Plus the amount of time you spend trying to get it working will make you wish you'd bought it.

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    \$\begingroup\$ +1 for buying this piece of equipment. The risk of a very hard to detect source of failure is not worth the money imo. \$\endgroup\$ – 0x6d64 Jun 10 '12 at 15:27
  • \$\begingroup\$ You think it'll work under linux? \$\endgroup\$ – ElectroNoob Jun 10 '12 at 17:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ The eBay listing says "compatible with Windows98 and Windows2000/NT, Windows XP / Windows 7 and other operating systems." You might try contacting the eBay seller and see if they can be more specific. \$\endgroup\$ – tcrosley Jun 10 '12 at 19:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Rocketmagnet using Windows isn't an option. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ – ElectroNoob Jun 11 '12 at 7:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ The real benefit is not so much have a programmer which works under linux, as having one which can work with open source driver software. That means you can hang it off of just about any development machine, and integrate it into just about any development flow, rather than fighting with poorly written, inflexible GUIs or having to maintain a machine with a legacy OS to support the programmer as it ages. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Stratton Jan 25 '13 at 1:56
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Why not use your Arduino as a PIC programmer?

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I recommend the PicKit2. It's only $30 and I've had great experiences with it on Windows. It supports pretty much every major PIC you could think of (in case you ever decide to move to a different part). Though it's not formally supported on Linux (by Microchip) it looks like it works fine and you can download the GUI from the website here. There's a newer version (PicKit3) but that one is more expensive and this one seems just as capable for what you describe you're doing. You'll probably spend more than $30 of your time getting anything else to work.

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If you happen to have a serial or parallel port on your computer, you can use PicPgm. It supports several really simple programmers, and can program nearly all Pics (up to PIC32). I built a TLVP (parallel port programmer using just a HC573) recently to program a '2550 - worked without problems.

The simples programmer I could find is the one from Lothar Stolz. I used it once to program a PIC16F876, but had no success with the '2550 mentioned above.

So these programmers can be build very cheap, but if you only have a USB port, you might want to go with the ebay one you found. It doesn't get any cheaper than that.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Your second URL link (Lothar Stolz) is broken \$\endgroup\$ – Chetan Bhargava Jan 23 '13 at 6:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ fixed it (the old hoster for this domain ceased operations...) \$\endgroup\$ – hli Jan 24 '13 at 22:20

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