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I'm working on getting a basic LED flashing program loaded onto a PIC12F615. I'm getting the following error when attempting to read or write to the device from within MPLABX:

The programmer could not be started: Could not connect to tool hardware: PICkit2PlatformTool, com.microchip.mplab.mdbcore.pickit2.PICkit2DbgToolManager

Reading and writing to the device works fine using Microchip's standalone PICkit2 app v2.61.

I'm running Windows 7 and MPLABX v1.95 on my PC. I have tried restarting my computer, disconnecting and reconnecting the PICKit2, flashing the PICKit2 to the latest firmware, running MPLABX as administrator, and uninstalling and re-installing MPLABX. Has anyone else encountered this issue? What else should I try?

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  • \$\begingroup\$ It might be worth trying a different USB port / cable if you haven't already, sometimes I've found that to work with odd USB problems. Also check for errors under the device manager. Maybe also try a different PC / laptop if you have one handy. \$\endgroup\$ – PeterJ Dec 10 '13 at 22:56
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've tried my other USB ports and another cable. I'm not seeing any unknown devices in device manager. I'm afraid that I don't have another PC handy. \$\endgroup\$ – jncraton Dec 10 '13 at 23:55
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you trying to debug or just program? \$\endgroup\$ – Adam Lawrence Dec 11 '13 at 1:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've tried both and neither seem to be working. I also can't read back from the device memory. Reading, writing, and verification all work from the standalone app. \$\endgroup\$ – jncraton Dec 11 '13 at 1:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ I seem to recall similar reports having to do with mplab not being installed to the default directory \$\endgroup\$ – Scott Seidman Dec 12 '13 at 16:46
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It seems that some PIC devices are partially supported by MPLABX (e.g., PIC16F1829). You can recognize this when creating the project: in the dialog where you select what tools you use, if the icon to the left of PICKit2 is yellow, then it's not possible to program the device directly from MPLABX, and the error message is the one you mentioned here. Only the standalone app can be used to program the MCU. If the icon is green (e.g., with PIC16F690), no problem. The workaround is to create a script (or .bat file?) that uploads the code to the PIC.

I haven't had any problems with reading through the standalone app though.

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SOLVED (MPLABX - PICKit 2 programmer could not be started)

I manage to solve the above problem whose procedure is follows, this works for me and I hope this help you all.

  1. Plug in your PicKit2 into your USB port.
  2. Download, Install and run "PICkit 2 Programmer" Ver. 2 v2.61 from the link "http://ww1.microchip.com/downloads/en/DeviceDoc/PICkit%202%20v2.61.00%20Setup%20A.zip"
  3. Application window should detect and show "PicKit 2 Connected"
  4. Now goto Tools>>Calibrate VDD and set Unit ID...
  5. A new dialogue window will open Press button "Next" three times
  6. Enter your desired device ID and press "Assign Unit ID"
  7. Click "Finished"
  8. Exit or close "PICkit Programmer"
  9. Finally restart MPLAB X and enjoy programming through PicKit-2
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    \$\begingroup\$ This does not help in my scenario; MPLAB X behaves the same after the Unit ID change. \$\endgroup\$ – anrieff Dec 18 '13 at 22:31
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On my side I found a workaround:

I ran into the same problem, with Pickit2 and Pickit3 (both). MPLABX ver 2.05, Windows 8.1 64 bits. I have an Explorer 16, and the issue occurs, whatever PIM I use; i have 3 PIMs, dsPIC33FJ256GP710A, PIC24FJ128GA010 and PIC24FJ64GB004.

I tested alternatively with both pickits, 2 & 3. Both pickits are detected by MPLAB, but with and ID VID & PID.

After having tried a million things, and lost several days, I downloaded Pickit OSs, drivers, etc. etc. I must say I am very tired, bored and frustrated by the very poor quality of Microchip stuff... Even after reinstalling Windows, the MPLAB behavior is not the same, far to be professional, it is even not at the hobbyist level, a shame I lost enough time and patience (and money !), trully plan to consider Atmel or anything else right now.

Anyway, here is my workaround. Say you have MPLAB X running, connected to an explorer16 thru a pickit3.

  1. Right click on your project in the left pane, and select "Properties".
  2. On the windows popping, in the middle pane (hardware Tool), select ICD3. ==> Yes ICD3, You do not have one, neither do I, but DO select ICD3, and click OK to close the window.
  3. back to MPLABX, select menu "Run" and Item "Run main project" (or F6)
  4. here you have a dialog box Opening saying ICD3 not Found, and displaying a list of devices below this title.
  5. Just select your device (pickit3 in this occurrence) and click OK.

It works for me, I hope this can help.

The drawback, prior to load any program into your PIM, you have to re-select ICD3 in order for MPLAB to let you choose your right device at compil time.

Sincerely frustrated.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Could not agree more. I came here searching on same problem as everyone else. I happen to have an ICD3 and a PICKit2 but because my ICD3 has RJ11 and I don't have an RJ11 breakout, I tried to use the PICKit2 with same countless roadblocks. It's hard to believe that a large company like Microchip can stay in business with such crap. Their ICD3 is sometimes recognized and sometimes not recognized and I would say the ICD3 is a notch above the hobby level too. Like you, I'm seriously considering jumping to ATmel and Arduino stuff. \$\endgroup\$ – Eric M Nov 23 '14 at 7:42
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I am also seeing the same issue with exactly the same setup. I was using MPLAB X v1.80 without issues and decided to go with the latest version v1.95 - then it stopped working and have never got it to work. All ok via the dedicated programming tool though v2.61. I went back to v1.80 and saw the same error! After some fiddling around unplugging the USB cable and trying different ports, resetting the PICKit2 Options and also running the dedicated programmer and getting it to connect to the PICKit2 then closing it then running MPLAB X again I did eventually get it to work!? Once working it seemed to stay working. It's almost like some setting in the registry needs to get set/cleared. It was not clear either which one of my actions made it spring back into life. I also got it working with v1.90 but took ages to get there but once again it remained working once I tickled it in the right places. For just programming you can just point the dedicated programmer at the location the HEX file lives, set the 'Auto import Hex + Write Device' and just build the code in the IDE using the hammer only icon - i.e. don't clean the build first. The new HEX file then gets picked up automatically by the programmer so the result is the same. This of course is no good if you want to debug with the PICKit 2 though :-/ If I find out anything else useful I'll post it here.

Just to be clear here, I am using a PIC 16F684 device and for this PICKit2 this has two yellow dots indicating limited support in MPLAB X. However, in both v1.90 AND v1.80 and earlier versions it programs this device from within the MPLAB X IDE every time and I have also done in-circuit debugging without issues. It was only when moving to v1.95 did this problem start to occur. v1.95 does not seem to allow it to work at all but somehow has also made the previous versions flaky at least when trying to get it to work again. Once working though it seems to stay working and works well. Just very annoying! Microchip, please fix ASAP!

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Same situation... Win7, MPLABX V1.95, PicKit 2 V2.61... Was informed it is a USB dll problem, should be fixed in soon to be released V2.00. You should be able to go back to V1.85 in the meantime, or upgrade to PicKit 3 or better for immediate and continued support.

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Windows XP SP3, MPLAB X 1.95, PICKit2 2.61 Programmer, PICKit2 Operating system version 2.32.0

I follow the procedure described above without the installation of PICkit 2 Programmer" Ver. 2 v2.61 because it is v2.61 and now I'm able to debug/program PIC18F2480/2580/4580. For "Assign Unit ID" I use "MyPICKit2".

PICKit2 http://mcu-bg.com/mcu_site/download/file.php?id=6933&t=1![MPLAB X Debug][1] PICKit2 http://mcu-bg.com/mcu_site/download/file.php?id=6932&mode=view![Project Properties][2]

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