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PICList Thread
'[BUY] seeking recommendations.'
2007\03\29@125051 by Joshua Shriver

picon face
Good Afternoon,

      I just found this mailing list today so I'm anxious to see the
threads. I've been wanting to get into PIC programming and general EE
since I was in college. Now that I have the time and resources I'd
like to get started.

     What kind of PIC programmer do you all recommend? I searched
online, and even on ebay there are many listed for under $50.  I plan
to do this as a hobby so I dont need anything robust.

Thanks for your time,
Josh

2007\03\29@131700 by fred jones

picon face
I recommend http://www.circuit-ed.com.  The easypic4.  It handles most PIC
controllers.  It is a development board, USB programmer, and in circuit
debugger all in one for $145.  If you don't want to start with assembly, you
can download their high level compilers for free which include numerous code
examples.
Good luck,
FJ


From: "Joshua Shriver" <spam_OUTjshriverTakeThisOuTspamgmail.com>
Reply-To: "Microcontroller discussion list - Public." <.....piclistKILLspamspam@spam@mit.edu>
To: piclistspamKILLspammit.edu
Subject: [BUY] seeking recommendations.
Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2007 12:50:49 -0400

Good Afternoon,

       I just found this mailing list today so I'm anxious to see the
threads. I've been wanting to get into PIC programming and general EE
since I was in college. Now that I have the time and resources I'd
like to get started.

      What kind of PIC programmer do you all recommend? I searched
online, and even on ebay there are many listed for under $50.  I plan
to do this as a hobby so I dont need anything robust.

Thanks for your time,
Josh

2007\03\29@132141 by wouter van ooijen

face picon face
> What kind of PIC programmer do you all recommend?

Are you serious? You just found a list of ~ 1k nerds and you ask them to
agree what the recommended programmer is? And BTW, asking for agreement
on anything else will be just as futile :)

stay away from non-ICSP programmers, and don't value a ZIF socket too
high, ICSP is the way to go.

and stay away from anything that uses a serial port to power the
programming process. preferrably stay away from anything that uses a PC
port in a way it was not designed for (== pin wiggling).

Said that, you might consider
- my Wisp628
- Olin's programmers
- pickit2
- ICD2 clones

> I plan to do this as a hobby so I dont need
> anything robust.

Somehow that does not sound very logical to me :)

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------------------------------------------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: http://www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products
docent Hogeschool van Utrecht: http://www.voti.nl/hvu



2007\03\29@132754 by Kevin Timmerman

flavicon
face
Cheap programmer: PICKit 2  $50
<http://www.microchipdirect.com/productsearch.aspx?Keywords=DV164120>

Good programmer: USBProg  $80
<http://www.embedinc.com/products/eusb2/index.htm>

In circuit debugger / programmer: ICD2  $100+
<www.microchip.com/stellent/idcplg?IdcService=SS_GET_PAGE&nodeId=1406&dDocName=en010046&part=DV164005>
<http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=5>



At 12:50 PM 3/29/2007, you wrote:
{Quote hidden}

>

2007\03\29@133335 by Joshua Shriver

picon face
> Are you serious? You just found a list of ~ 1k nerds and you ask them to
> agree what the recommended programmer is? And BTW, asking for agreement
> on anything else will be just as futile :)
>

lol, well have to start somewhere :) There are a lot on ebay and they
all offer different setups so was mostly looking for a list of
recommended ones so I can weed out the crappy ones.


> > I plan to do this as a hobby so I dont need
> > anything robust.
>
> Somehow that does not sound very logical to me :)

I'm a programmer, and had some ideas for devices I wanted to create
but lack the EE knowledge to make them. I've been following PIC's for
a while, I love Circuit Cellar :)  Thought maybe this was the route to
go... also pondering FPGA development but that's above me at this
point.

What I was hoping to do is use PICs for i/o processing. Sensors etc.
Be able to record data and transform it into a way that can be sent
and processed by a computer. Plus some other little projects. I dont
want or expect to get to the point where I'm sitting in a lab with an
oscilloscope debugging, but if I can create hardware to do what I want
from a software point of view I'll be happy :)

Thanks to everyone who's replied.

-Josh

2007\03\29@133935 by Joshua Shriver

picon face
The USBProg device looks nice and a good price. Silly question perhaps
but where is the Zif socket to plug the PIC chip in?

-Josh

On 3/29/07, Kevin Timmerman <.....listsKILLspamspam.....pcmx.net> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

> >--

2007\03\29@135520 by peter green

flavicon
face
part 1 483 bytes content-type:text/plain; (unknown type 8bit not decoded)

> The USBProg device looks nice and a good price. Silly question perhaps
> but where is the Zif socket to plug the PIC chip in?
zif sockets on programmers are so last century ;) with modern serially programmable devices its normal to just program them in circuit.


--
No virus found in this outgoing message.
Checked by AVG Free Edition.
Version: 7.5.446 / Virus Database: 268.18.20/737 - Release Date: 28/03/2007 16:23




part 2 35 bytes content-type:text/plain; charset="us-ascii"
(decoded 7bit)

2007\03\29@141223 by Rolf

face picon face
I have a similar background to you. Few years ago I ventured in to PICs
with only my programming experience and some gumption.

My advice, which is more specific than most others will be, is get an
ICD2 (or perhaps a clone). It is worth it for the breakpoint and
single-stepping debugs. I started with a JDM programmer, moved to a
Kit128 programmer, and then to the ICD2.

Here's why...
1. it is official (I know that Olin and Wouter produce good programmers,
but, even though it is ugly, the ICD2 will always be official).
2. it has full support in MPLAB.
3. The Debugging side of things is simply invaluable for lots of reasons
(see later).
4. The price is really not so steep in the long run.

My only regret with the ICD2 is that it was the third programmer I
bought. I should have got one first.

As for why the debugging is so important, it allows you to inspect the
chip after each instruction is run. A lot of the experts on this list
have this deep intuition as to what is going on in the PIC.... they jsut
have the 'feel' for it. For me, I have had to step through my code to
see what the effects are, and to learn the hard way... This would have
been very difficult without the debug (technically, you could have
simulated things, but that does not help you see the effect of the PIC
on outside components.

If you want just a programmer than, although they are not integrated
with MPLAB, I believe Wouter's and Olin's programmers are very good, and
I can add that the Kit128 I have used is very good (for the PICs it
supports which is currently under revision). Unfortunately, I think, as
a beginner, the Debug functionality is priceless.

Rolf

Joshua Shriver wrote:
{Quote hidden}

2007\03\29@142911 by olin piclist

face picon face
Joshua Shriver wrote:
> There are a lot on ebay and they
> all offer different setups so was mostly looking for a list of
> recommended ones so I can weed out the crappy ones.

I agree with Wouter.  Stay away from anything that tries to cheat and use a
PC port other than the way it was intended.  We see problems here all the
time with people trying to get the "no parts" and "el cheapo" programmers to
work.  Also I wouldn't get a parallel port programmer at this point, even if
it didn't cheat.

That basically leaves two kinds of programmers: Serial port with separate
power, and USB.  Look at Wouter's Wisp628 for a serial port programmer.  For
USB there is the Microchip PicKit2 and my USBProg.  The PicKit2 was designed
for low cost and cuts a few corners with the programming spec and voltages,
but does work fine most of the time.  It's a decent deal for $35 (I think
that's the price).  My USBProg was designed for professional lab use, so
doesn't cut corners but of course costs more at $80.

The next step up is the Microchip ICD2.  This is around $200 but also works
as a debugger.  I think this is the best single choice for a hobbyist just
starting out if you can afford it.

>>> I plan to do this as a hobby so I dont need
>>> anything robust.
>>
>> Somehow that does not sound very logical to me :)
>
> I'm a programmer, and had some ideas for devices I wanted to create
> but lack the EE knowledge to make them.

Then you definitely don't want a programmer that adds more uncertainty to
the mix.

> What I was hoping to do is use PICs for i/o processing. Sensors etc.
> Be able to record data and transform it into a way that can be sent
> and processed by a computer.

PICs are well suited for that.

> I dont
> want or expect to get to the point where I'm sitting in a lab with an
> oscilloscope debugging, but if I can create hardware to do what I want
> from a software point of view I'll be happy :)

This doesn't make a lot of sense.  How do you plan on debugging your
circuits?  It would be tough enough for a professional to do that without a
scope, but pretty much hopeless for someone who lacks EE knowledge, as you
said.

I agree with Wouter again.  You are a bit shaky on the electronics, so the
electronics tools sounds like the wrong place to go for cheap over solid.


********************************************************************
Embed Inc, Littleton Massachusetts, http://www.embedinc.com/products
(978) 742-9014.  Gold level PIC consultants since 2000.

2007\03\29@143524 by olin piclist

face picon face
Joshua Shriver wrote:
> The USBProg device looks nice and a good price. Silly question perhaps
> but where is the Zif socket to plug the PIC chip in?

As Wouter said, most everything is done in-circuit these days.  The USBProg
is meant for that.  The larger PICs don't come in DIP anyway, and ZIF
sockets for 64 and 80 pin quad flat packs will probably cost more than the
programmer.

In-circuit serial programming (ICSP) is not much of a burden on the circuit
as long as you design for it up front.  Read my circuit design guide for
ICSP (http://www.embedinc.com/picprg/icsp.htm) *before* you desing your
circuit.

If you really want to program a bare PIC in a socket, you can always make a
adapter yourself that connects the programmer to a socket.  Just remember to
put a 100nF or so ceramic bypass cap between Vdd and ground at the socket.


********************************************************************
Embed Inc, Littleton Massachusetts, http://www.embedinc.com/products
(978) 742-9014.  Gold level PIC consultants since 2000.

2007\03\29@154926 by Goflo

picon face

---- Olin Lathrop <EraseMEolin_piclistspam_OUTspamTakeThisOuTembedinc.com> wrote:
> ....  Read my circuit design guide for
> ICSP (http://www.embedinc.com/picprg/icsp.htm) *before* you desing your
> circuit.

Hi Olin -
The link comes up "file not found...".
Any chance of resurrection?

Whatever, thanks - Jack

2007\03\29@194630 by Dwayne Reid

flavicon
face
At 10:50 AM 3/29/2007, Joshua Shriver wrote:

>       What kind of PIC programmer do you all recommend? I searched
>online, and even on ebay there are many listed for under $50.  I plan
>to do this as a hobby so I dont need anything robust.

Hi there, Josh.

You are going to get lots of recommendations for the Microchip
products (PICkit, PICkit2, ICD) as well as a couple of highly
respected 3rd part programmers from Wouter (WISP) and Olin Lathrop's
Easy PIC programmers.  All are good suggestions.

I'm going to toss in a another suggestion:  I'm fond of the
programmers that Tony Nixon designed.  He sold the designs to Peter
Crowfoot of KITS-R-US (http://www.kitsrus.com).  Last I heard, Bob Axtell
(on this list) is now the person doing on-going development of those
programmers.

As is usual, these have been cloned and are being sold VERY
inexpensively on eBay.  They go by the KITS-R-US part numbers:

K128 (USB only, Flash parts only)
K149 (USB & Serial, Flash and "C" PICs)
K150 (not sure what goodies K150 brings to the table)


The K149 is a *nice* programmer.  Works with both serial and USB
ports, field-upgradable firmware, has both a ZIF socket and ICSP pins.

Its downside is that it uses its own software (does not integrate
within MPLAB) and that different-sized PICs fit into different
locations on the socket.

We've been using K128 (USB only, Flash parts only) and K149 (USB &
Serial, C-series and Flash parts) for quite a while now.  One of my
developers uses only the K149 - he sez that Microchip's PS+ is just too slow.

One of the neat things about the K149 software is that is continually
monitors the specified HEX file.  When that file changes because of a
re-compile, it is automatically re-loaded into the programmer and
sits waiting for you to drop in the chip and hit the Program button.

The last pair of K149 programmers I purchased cost me US $36 each
plus shipping.  Since that particular supplier is in Vancouver (BC,
Canada), shipping costs to me were low.


Finally, you will also see others saying that ICSP is the *ONLY* way
to go.  I have to disagree.  ICSP can be made to work in many
situations but you will find that you may have to go through some
hoops to use it in some projects.

Some of my products don't / can't use ISCP.  Part of the reason is cost.

Other products *DO* use ICSP but require the use of the ICSP buffer
circuits I've described several times over the past few years.  The
pins used for ICSP clock and data are heavily loaded and most ICSP
programmers just can't supply enough current down those lines.

Still other products can use ICSP from almost anybody's programmer.

My take on ICSP is this: its a great tool for experienced PIC
people.  People completely new to PIC controllers and electronics in
general should avoid while they are in the beginning stages of
learning all this new stuff.

Hope this helps.

dwayne

PS - Don't fall into the trap of trying to use a NPPP or JDM or even
a TAIT do-it-yourself programmer.  Also avoid Myke Predko's
programmer.  All of these can work quite well.

However, all of these are known to NOT work under varying and fairly
common circumstances.  Quite frankly, not knowing whether your PIC
got programmed properly or not simply is NOT worth the hassle when
you can't figure out why your current project doesn't work.

Far better to spend a modest sum of money and have a programmer that
works properly, every time.  Then you can concentrate your debugging
efforts on your circuit and your code.

dwayne

--
Dwayne Reid   <dwaynerspamspam_OUTplanet.eon.net>
Trinity Electronics Systems Ltd    Edmonton, AB, CANADA
(780) 489-3199 voice          (780) 487-6397 fax

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2007\03\29@203927 by Timothy J. Weber

face picon face
Dwayne Reid wrote:
> We've been using K128 (USB only, Flash parts only) and K149 (USB &
> Serial, C-series and Flash parts) for quite a while now.  One of my
> developers uses only the K149 - he sez that Microchip's PS+ is just too slow.

The K128 is also my ZIF-socketed programmer of choice.  (Though it also
supports ICSP.)

> One of the neat things about the K149 software is that is continually
> monitors the specified HEX file.  When that file changes because of a
> re-compile, it is automatically re-loaded into the programmer and
> sits waiting for you to drop in the chip and hit the Program button.

Yes - Note that the PICkit 2's software does this too.
--
Timothy J. Weber
http://timothyweber.org

2007\03\29@211421 by Ben Hencke

picon face
I've gone through various self-built programmers, and had a lot of fun
doing it and saving money in the process. You can build you own for
less than $10 in parts, and you can probably scavenge most of the
parts from junk you have laying around (parallel cables, connectors,
etc). I started with the NoPPP, but that is very obsolete now. I have
a version of the Tait programmer, which I love and used quite a bit
until recently. It was very easy to fashion various adapters to fit
whatever PIC I was working on at the time.

However, recently I discovered how nice it is not to have to do any of
that so that I can focus on doing neat things with PICs. If you don't
want to spend a lot of time building your own tools, I'd highly
suggest getting the pickit2 and doing ICSP.  Microchip also sells
adapters that plug in to the pickit2 if your circuit doesnt allow for
ICSP.

Pickit2 is small, has a USB interface, and doesnt require an external
12v supply, and has very nice chip and software support. These are
things most (not all) other programmers in the same price range lack,
and you should watch out for. Despite having "kit" in the name, it is
not something that you have to assemble.

I would also highly recommend SourceBoost as a good and inexpensive C
compiler. Hi-Tech has a very nice limited free compiler, but honestly
if you don't ever plan on spending $800 to get better chip support or
full memory usage its a dead-end trap whereas SourceBoost has an
affordable Pro version.

- Ben

On 3/29/07, Joshua Shriver <@spam@jshriverKILLspamspamgmail.com> wrote:
{Quote hidden}

> -

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