Thursday, October 15, 2009

Begining microcontrollers programming with PIC

If someone wants to start programming microcontrollers, PIC family is for sure the best choice. PICs are inexpensive and easy to learn, powerful enough for beginner applications and they have a lot of integrated peripherals that make them even more powerful.

The required software can be freely downloaded by Microchip's site. Don't forget to download databooks for your PIC microcontroller, probably PIC16F84, from the same place.

Nobody ever was able to program without read, understand (and many times copy) some examples. If someone google "Pic Projects" many sites will be found. Most of them present home made projects with freely available source code. A good place to start with is rentron's site. Of course useful application notes from Microchip's site will provide a sufficient background but be careful because some of them are rather advanced.

A very nice book (in affordable price) that someone could buy and read is the PIC Microcontroller Project Book. It describes a lot of projects and the connection of a PIC with a lot of peripherals.

Of course every microcontroller needs some hardware programmer to download the program to the IC. IC-Prog and its hardware companions are the best place to start. Easy to use, easy to create programmers and of course free. When you get more professional I guess you will need a PICSTART Plus official programmer from Microchip which is more reliable.

In conclusion what someone may need to start programming with PIC microcontrollers are the following:

-Download MPLAB IDE (
-Create mini programmer (
-Study examples (,,
-Debug and gain experience
Good luck! !

Upgrading from PIC to AVR :
The war between PIC or AVR is not over! Nobody can easily tell which is better. According to my opinion, AVRs are much more powerful because of their C-optimized instruction set and the one - cycle per instruction architecture. Their drawback in comparison with PIC is that that have more assembly instructions to learn and that they are less years in the market. The differences between the two families are summarized in the following table.

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