PicKit 3

PicKit3I recently have begun to take up electronics again. My first step was to get my old PIC Programming Kit that I got from Maplin years ago working.

However no luck, it require a serial cable, and even though I bought a Serial to USB adaptor, it turns about after many hours trying to figure out why it kept giving me errors that apparently USB to Serial does not work for it.

So I began to look for alternatives, and after looking through the manual for the kit I found out about In-Circuit Serial Programming (ICSP). ICSP is a funky little 5 to 6 pin way of programming PIC chips, that can be added to any circuit, which would be better for me in the long run as I hope to try out some surface mount components that will not plug into the PIC Programming Kit.

After a bit of googling on ICSP from a guy on YouTube called EEVBlog, I found the PicKit, a device produced by Microchip that has a female 6 pin header on the end that connects to a computer via USB. You can just write code in their MPLab, or another IDE as there is a standalone application to use the PicKit, and it will connect to it through an ICSP header you connect the PicKit to program.

Not only that, but the PicKit can also power your circuit, as long as it only needs 5V, which means that it has a quick turnaround for testing. And best of all, recently they’ve got a Beta for a cross platform version of MPLab so I won’t even need to boot into Windows through VMWare.

The one downside is that not all chips are supported by the software for programming even though they support ICSP in their datasheet, but I have only found one PIC I have that it doesn’t support (PIC16c745), though it does not tell you this when trying to program the chip. There is a little circle that changes red or green whether or not it supports programming and/or debugging.