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'[PIC] C Compilers - Hobbyist Cost Considerations'
As a beginner, I'm not only trying all sorts of available tools, but
also evaluating their cost in the event I become proficient enough in
my embedded programming endeavors.
As an electronics hobbyist, it is unlikely I could ever justify the
cost of Hi-Tech's compiler. Not only is it expensive, but you need a
separate license for each family of microcontrollers. Some of the
tutorials I'm currently following use the freeware version of Hi-
Tech's 10,12,16 compiler. I figure it might be some time yet before I
outgrow the limitations of the freeware version.
BoostC I know nothing about, and can't recall a discussion about it on
this list. Its price certainly looks attractive.
MikroC is another relatively inexpensive compiler that some embedded C
tutorials seem to use. I've heard some people complain about MikroC's
protected libraries. I assume that one can write their own if they so
choose. (I'm not ready for that yet.) Mikroelektronika does offer
some very attractive development boards, and I have purchased books
from them in the past that I've been happy with. Anyone have any good
words to say about their compiler?
CCS looks to be in the more expensive category. Like Hi-Tech, it
appears that they offer a separate compiler for each family. $600
will get you the works, but that is quite a bit outside a hobbyist
Microchip's compilers outside of the student versions are probably not
a consideration for a hobbyist. Also, Microchip does not offer a
compiler for baseline and midrange chips. (I'm also struggling
through learning assembly.)
I'd be interested in your thoughts or links that might discuss the
various compiler options with cost as a consideration.
On Tue, Feb 10, 2009 at 8:59 AM, Joseph Bento <kirtland.com> wrote: joseph
> Microchip's compilers outside of the student versions are probably not
> a consideration for a hobbyist. Also, Microchip does not offer a
> compiler for baseline and midrange chips. (I'm also struggling
> through learning assembly.)
The student version is quite good and free. So I think the best
option for you is to use PIC18 and the MPLAB C18 student
version. The cost of the compiler is zero. The code generation
is the best among the free ones (HiTech C in Lite mode, SDCC, etc).
Take note the C18 student version does have good optimization
enabled. The only two omission is the procedure abstraction
and the extended instruction sets. C18 is also well supported
by Microchip and the community (including Microchip Forum).
> I'd be interested in your thoughts or links that might discuss the
> various compiler options with cost as a consideration.
I use SDCC for PIC16 and PIC18. Despite what you may read, it works
really well for even 16F parts. Sadly, the lack of a (better) quality
free C compiler is pushing me in the direction of Atmel AVR. They have
the nice avr-gcc compiler support on that side.
I also do all my work in linux, with Piklab as my IDE and use a PicKit
2 ICSP. I'm not sure how SDCC would integrate (if at all) with MPLAB.
The going advice around here seams to be, if you use 16F parts, learn
assembler. If you want to use C, use the bigger parts.
Stephen R Phillips
On Feb 9, 2009, at 6:22 PM, Adam Field wrote:
>> I'd be interested in your thoughts or links that might discuss the
>> various compiler options with cost as a consideration.
> I use SDCC for PIC16 and PIC18. Despite what you may read, it works
> really well for even 16F parts. Sadly, the lack of a (better) quality
> free C compiler is pushing me in the direction of Atmel AVR. They have
> the nice avr-gcc compiler support on that side.
> I also do all my work in linux, with Piklab as my IDE and use a PicKit
> 2 ICSP. I'm not sure how SDCC would integrate (if at all) with MPLAB.
Ideally, I'd like to do most of my work on my MacBook. I had forgot
about SDCC, and will have to investigate. I have Parallels installed,
which has introduced its own issues since upgrading to Parallels 4
with my PicKit2 while in a Windows virtual machine.
I have installed PK2CMD, GPUTILS, JAL, and Xwisp (I think I prefer
this programmer over the PICKit2 for the command line) for use in a
native OS-X session. I'm not completely at ease at a Unix prompt, but
I'm discovering that the comfort level increases with use.
I'm a beginner at every aspect of programming. I'm simultaneously
dabbling in assembler and C. It appears that C has an easier learning
curve, though I'm at a loss if I want to try and compile the same
program on different compilers. Just last evening I was trying to
comprehend the commands for the bit configuration. Users of this
forum kindly pointed me to the 'include' files. There is a lot to
learn that is not intuitive, and I'm very thankful for the help of
> The going advice around here seams to be, if you use 16F parts, learn
> assembler. If you want to use C, use the bigger parts.
I'm attempting to tackle both. JAL is proving to be very interesting
as well. When I was in school, there were distinct fields for
electronics and programming. I'm now attempting to catch up on what I
didn't learn years ago.
|Joseph Bento wrote:
> CCS looks to be in the more expensive category. Like Hi-Tech, it
> appears that they offer a separate compiler for each family. $600
> will get you the works, but that is quite a bit outside a hobbyist
Joe, CCS's "PCM" command-line compiler covers the midrange parts, and PCB,
for baseline PICs, comes free with MPLAB. You might think that you don't
want a command-line compiler - but it integrates well with MPLAB (the same
way that PCB does), so you do end up with an IDE.
So, $150 is all you need to spend for full coverage of 12- and 14-bit
PICs, with an IDE, with CCS.
But - I recommend sticking with HI-TECH. Yes, the free "lite" mode
generates atrocious code, but as a hobbyist (a) you often would have used
less than half your PIC's memory for many projects, so bloated code that's
twice the size it needs to often isn't a problem in practice, (b) spending
a couple of dollars more to upgrade to a bigger PIC, every now and then,
isn't a huge expense (much cheaper than a compiler!), and (c) if you
outgrow the biggest PIC16s, there's always the student edition of C18 for
the 18Fs, which generates ok code, so you have a free upgrade path there.
Alan B. Pearce
>Microchip's compilers outside of the student versions are probably
>not a consideration for a hobbyist. Also, Microchip does not offer
>a compiler for baseline and midrange chips. (I'm also struggling
>through learning assembly.)
They sort-of do, as there is an evaluation version of one of the other
compilers for the baseline chips in the MPLAB install. Haven't used it
myself, but do recall seeing the option to install it come up when
installing MPLAB 8.15a.
> I'm a beginner at every aspect of programming. I'm simultaneously
> dabbling in assembler and C. It appears that C has an easier learning
> curve, though I'm at a loss if I want to try and compile the same
Interesting, I have always found assembler easier and more enjoyable. To
me assembler seems finite or bounded. ie there is some memory, peripherals,
registers and a handful of instructions. I can always see exactly what is
going. I am sure I once had a handle on Pointers and Structures in C, but
they look so alien now.
I consider myself a hobbyist at best but always seem to be able to solve my
problems in assembly. Some of those problems have solutions where I
consider timing is critical and wouldn't know where to start in C, but in
assembly I can easily count the ticks. Modulating a 38khz pic generated
carrier with variable length bit times for a programmable remote, easy! Get
it to do what I want it to do and when.
If you are just interested as a hobby, as opposed to doing some professional stuff, take a look at Basic18
It is a surprisingly good Basic compiler for the 18 series. It is only $50, generates pretty good code, has floating point support, extensions to handle the PIC hardware, a reasonable library of routines, etc. It support in-line assembler as well.
I've used it for several projects:
-an amp-hour meter for my sailboat
-a temperature controller for the fridge on my sailboat
-a frequency counter (30mHz)
-an L/C meter
-a signal generator using DDS techniques (using the PIC to do the DDS, not a special-pupose chip.
I'm just a satisfied customer (I did a lot of Beta testing on it as well)
If BASIC is under consideration, this one seems good.
Free, and you can get in and modify a lot of it, so it's a nice bridge to
assembler or as a trainer in getting to know PICs. Lots of chips supported.
Accepts inline assembly code too.
Forum support is there, but can be slow, but if you're not needing it
professionally, or are in education, or want to use something to get started
with and halfway get you to be intimate with the PIC with minimal pain, this
one is good for that.
Larry Bradley wrote:
> If you are just interested as a hobby, as opposed to doing some professional stuff, take a look at Basic18
> It is a surprisingly good Basic compiler for the 18 series. It is only $50, generates pretty good code, has floating point support, extensions to handle the PIC hardware, a reasonable library of routines, etc. It support in-line assembler as well.
:: It is a surprisingly good Basic compiler for the 18 series. It is
:: only $50, generates pretty good code, has floating point support,
:: extensions to handle the PIC hardware, a reasonable library of
:: routines, etc. It support in-line assembler as well.
Strangely enough the latest version refuses to install, it tells me it is older than the version I already have.
Whilst we are on the promoting compiler wagon - in 'c' for 16 and 18F Wiz-c about GBP50.00 - the editor is a bit wacky but does the job and if we are talking Basic then XCSB is very 'C' like and provides extremely compact code, no IDE, I recommend EditPadPro as an code editor.
cdb, btech-online.co.uk on 11/02/2009 colin
Web presence: http://www.btech-online.co.uk
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On Tue, Feb 10, 2009 at 4:52 PM, rlistas <gmail.com> wrote: rlistas
> Another good one, with a very good simulator included:
I tried that simulator for a while. It was so buggy it's not even
funny. The best simulator is the MPLAB SIM.
From: Gordon Williams ncf.cagwilliams
Date: Tue, 10 Feb 2009 16:57:10 -0500
Subject: Re: RE:[PIC] C Compilers - Hobbyist Cost Considerations
If you are willing to go to something other than C have a look at JAL.
Version 2 is a big improvement over the old JAL. And the price is right.
Yes, JAL is very nice. I've downloaded the latest JALLib release and use
it along with the Jal starter pack that Bert Van Dam created. Perhaps I'm
doing myself a disservice by dabbling in so many languages simultaneously,
but I'm enjoying learning the differences and simularities.
mail2web LIVE – Free email based on Microsoft® Exchange technology -
Forrest W Christian
I own three C pic compilers:
MikroC is the 'funnest' to write in. I like it for when I'm playing
around with something on the PIC. The libs are great, but I wouldn't
trust it for production level code. Or, in other words, when I want to
do something for myself I generally write in MikroC. It generally does
what you want, and generally there's a library available for most
hobbyist things (beep generation, LCD, etc), and as long as you're
willing to make your hardware match the expectations of the libs, then
everything is great. Maybe I'll try to describe it this way: It's
sort of like a lot of the BASIC compilers for the PIC. Quick, easy to
use, but not really production quality output from my experience.
CCS-C gets dug out for PIC16 work. It works well. I also plan on
using it for the PIC24 stuff I'm starting to do. It's a good,
production-quality C compiler, for not really that much money when
compared to others... PCWH is only $500, and includes both PIC16 and
PIC18 parts. For $100 more you can get PIC24 parts as well. You can
also buy the exact same compilers, but use a different ide (such as
MPLAB) for a fair bit less. CCS-C is the least expensive compiler I
would (and do) trust to produce production-grade (aka shippable) code.
It doesn't seem to be as well supported by the Microchip official
libraries, but it still works well.
The third is C18. I have this primarily because one of my products
uses the microchip C stack, and SNMP, which requires either Hi-tech or
C18. C18 was less expensive, so I went that way. I would have to say
that it produces reasonable code as well (I would be hard pressed to
describe the difference between C18 and the CCS compiler in any
meaningful way), but I really don't really care for MPLAB for some reason.
If I was just doing hobbyist thing, I'd just buy MikroC and use that.
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