Microchip(tm) PIC(tm) Microcontrollers

UPDATE (2006/01)

My little usb_pickit program sparked a lot of interest. Several other people are now maintaining newer, better versions:


A microcontroller is a little programmable chunk of silicon, often used to provide the logic behind an appliance like a microwave or washing machine. They're generally tiny, self-contained, stripped-down, cheap, and highly robust machines. Most consist of exactly one chip, which includes ROM, RAM, CPU, and I/O. Microchip is one of the larger microcontroller manufacturers. Until a month ago, I'd never played with any of their stuff.

Microchip(tm) PICkit(tm) 1 FLASH Starter Kit

Microchip recently released this little self-contained USB chip programmer, the "PICkit 1".

PICkit device board, with 
sockets and LED's

It's a pretty standard box as far as device programmers go-- you plug in a tiny chip into the socket in the middle, and send the tiny chip's program to the programmer from a real computer. The cool thing is the price-- just $35!

It comes with a bunch of Windows software, available at the Microchip driver page. I prefer HI-TECH's free PICClite compiler, which works with Linux.

I've written a little UNIX command-line utility program to control the PICkit 1 device programmer over the USB port called "usb_pickit". It can upload or download programs from standard Intel .hex files to/from the PICkit's chip.

usb_pickit includes source, and is issued under my totally free licence. I'm in no way affiliated with Microchip, so don't think this is a supported product.


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Orion Sky Lawlor, August 2003