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'[PIC]: MPLAB-ICD?'
2001\08\04@010524 by Jeff DeMaagd

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I noticed some people using the MPLAB-ICD for programming.

How good is it?

If it works acceptably I would like to get it as an alternative to $1000+
in-circuit-emulators.  I know the ICD is limited to 16F87x devices, but
those are exactly the chips I need to use.   Are there any big gotchas?  I
know it eliminates the use of a few pins while using the ICD, and I'm fine
with that. It appears with the screen shots that only one break point is
allowed, that's fairly constricting but still workable.  Anything else?  If
that's it I'm prepared to order one.

Thanks

Jeff

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2001\08\04@090056 by Al Williams

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I've used the ICD (and I also have the Ubicom-style emulator for SX which is
somewhat similar).

I really like the ICD. Even when I'm targeting a 16CXX/16FXX I will use the
ICD and discipline myself not to use the "other features". Only a few things
are different like the register start address and the extra bits on EEPROM
read/write. Not a big deal.

The ICD does have 1 break point and you can't use any of MPLABs fancy
breakpoints. Also, the serial speed makes it slow to load all the SFR every
time, so they give you some options. You can load all SFRs every time (good
for breakpoints, but sucks for single step). You can load the bare minimum
registers, or you can load the bare minimum plus your watch windows. This is
a good setting for general use, although you have to remember. You wind up
looking in the SFR and saying "Gee! How could that NOT change?" Oh yeah. It
probably changed, I'm just not reading it. There is a menu command to update
all the registers on command. The real trick is to put anything you might
possibly want to see in a watch window.

I bought the $100 ICD that does not have the target board or the header. It
has everything else. I have enough boards here and I wound up splitting a 6
pin RJ11 back to back connector (99 cents) cutting the wires so that I had 2
sockets. I took one of the sockets and wired the wires to a SIP socket so it
plugs into a breadboard. You can wire the other one to a female header to
plug into a male header on a PCB. The ICD generates Vpp from a DC to DC
converter so when you program it whines, but that's not a big deal.

For $100 it is a deal, although I'd rather not get the CDROMs which are
almost sure to be out of date before you get them and get the header instead
(even if just the blank board). They could even take out the serial cable.

You do get the printed manuals which is nice. Digikey usually has a few, but
you have to know the part number since they don't list it in the catalog.
Between me and you (and the other 10,000 PIC listers) the secret number is
DV164002-ND -- and no, I don't work for DigiKey.

They say you can't debug breakpoint code with the ICD, but I have. I think
they mean you can't single step from main code to a breakpoint which is
true. However, if you put a breakpoint in the ISR and let the CPU run, you
will break in the ISR and everything seems to work at that point, at least
what I've tried. YMMV.

Probably the biggest problem with the ICD is that it is so tightly
integrated with MPLAB that you often forget to download your code after
building it. Seems like they pop up an error window for that, but I may have
told it to quit doing that. When you are deep in debugging it is so easy to
make a change, build it, and start trying to debug it. Whoops -- the CPU
still has the old code in it. Too bad MPLAB doesn't have a Build and
Download command.

OK, so that's all probably more than you wanted to know. Is the ICD a $10K
emulator. No. Is it serviceable? Yes. Will it save you development time?
Yes. Is it worth $100? Yes.

Al Williams
AWC
* Floating point math for any microprocessor:
http://www.al-williams.com/awce/pak1.htm






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