I would like to familiarize myself with Microchip's PIC product line and IDE, I don't want anything too basic or cheesy, etc. I can't seem to find a device like Texas Instruments's EZ430‑F2013 USB development kit:

Texas Instruments's EZ430‑F2013

The features I like about TI's board, and what I'm looking for in a PIC version, are the following: (In order of 1 = most desired to least)

  1. Works with their IDE
  2. Quality
  3. The detachable PCB with chip pinout, and the size of this PCB (because it can easily be used in a basic project...)
  4. Size and surface mounted desing
  5. USB connectivity
  6. Price
  7. Can easily be used to program other MSP430's

I also want to learn with a processor line that I will be able to use in production units. I don't know the PIC processor line differences well, but a processor in the price range of $1.80~$6 per 100 quantity, is my goal.

From a bit of research and answer's like this one I'm thinking that to best meet my desirements, I may need to get a separate programmer and dev board (like is needed/recommended with AVR's.) If so, it seems like the PICkit2 or maybe PICkit3 would be the way to go? And I don't know what dev board/processor line etc. to start with.

Price isn't too big of a deal, especially with regards to the programmer/debugger, so if there is a better option I may rather buy it. However, a cheap device like TI's is fine too, as long as it meats my processor goal, etc.


Consider the PICkit3 Debug Express kit which includes the PICkit3 (a tremendously useful little programmer), MPLAB IDE on a CD and a 44-pin evaluation board with a PIC18F45K20 populated on it.

Once you get comfy with the 8-bit parts, you can move up to an Explorer 16 board and play with PIC24 and dsPIC devices. The board supports add-on cards called PICTail boards, which provide extra functionality (Ethernet, power supplies, etc.)

There's also a standalone PIC32 starter kit that doesn't need a programmer.

  • \$\begingroup\$ The Explorer boards with the plugin PICTails look good, I always wanted to grab one of those, but with the stuff I do at the moment it probably wouldn't get enough use to justify it (mainly working with ARM and FGPAs nowadays) If price is not such a big deal problem, they would be definitely worth considering. +1 for the mention. \$\endgroup\$ – Oli Glaser Jan 9 '13 at 3:11

Id'd go for something like the PICKit3 Starter kit, or the PICkit3 Debug Express, it has all you need. If you want USB connectivity from the dev board itself, then something like the MPLAB Starter Kit for PIC18F MCU (DM180021 - shown below) might be an idea (it has an on board programmer)

18F starter kit

All the starter kits are on this page.

There are also thrid part vendors with soem good options, like Olimex (dev boards, proto boards).

  • \$\begingroup\$ Beat me by 5 seconds or so... \$\endgroup\$ – Adam Lawrence Jan 9 '13 at 2:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Madmanguruman - lol, sorry about that :-) No problem, though, more than one person recommending something is more likely to mean it's a half decent option (I guess). \$\endgroup\$ – Oli Glaser Jan 9 '13 at 2:57
  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the info, I gave the answer to @Madmanguruman based mostly on the fact that he has less rep. :) But thanks to both of you! PicKit3 it is! \$\endgroup\$ – Garrett Fogerlie Jan 9 '13 at 5:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GarrettFogerlie - no probs, I think his answer is a bit more complete anyway. Hope you have fun experimenting with the PicKit3 :-) \$\endgroup\$ – Oli Glaser Jan 9 '13 at 5:52

Most of Microchips dev boards only meet the first two of your features, but the ez430 doesn't meet much of it either. The EZ430 is a mostly abandoned dev system (it can't program some of the newer msp430's released in the last year and a half.), has no firmware updates available, it's only replacement boards are other MSP430F2012 with minimal flash and ram. The target boards themselves are just basic breakouts for the device. They are as simple as the msp430 line gets. The Msp430 Launchpad is a much better dev tool, based on price, included mcus, and range of use.

For PIC development, there really isn't any official one that matches the form factor of the ez430. There was the dlp-flash2 that had a debugger/programmer witha detachable target board, but that hasn't been sold in quite a while.

Honestly, the best thing for PIC development is a PICKIT2 or 3. Any board with a ICSP connection will work great with it. As for target boards, you can make them from a piece of protoboard for dip sized chips, or with a standard soic breakout, not hard at all.

Update: Actually, found the DM330013 - Microstick for dsPIC33F and PIC24H. A 25 dollar development stick with built in programmer (Supports only 4 parts though), able to plug into a breadboard, supports Microchips standard IDE, and socketed, so you can swap mcus out. Every bit as good as the ez430, minus the smd boards.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I know the ez430 is way different from what I was asking. I just have boxes of old big dev boards, and I never end up using one for very long. When the ez first came out TI sent us a bunch, I liked the bare bone detached pcb. I hadn't used toughed them in over a year. Thanks, for the info! \$\endgroup\$ – Garrett Fogerlie Jan 9 '13 at 5:11
  • \$\begingroup\$ @GarrettFogerlie same here. The ez430 are great in theory, but I much prefer the launchpad (smaller than a business card). Pic development just matured a long time ago and everything ends up corresponding to that market. All high pin count, wide DIP packages. You will need the deck of cards sized PICKIT2/3 anyway, the rest can be a simple pic16/18 breakout board. Or... I updated my answer. \$\endgroup\$ – Passerby Jan 9 '13 at 5:23

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