Friday, November 14, 2008

Project: Kit96 PIC Programmer

My next project after the ring warning device was another kit. This one was for a programmer that was capable of programming the most popular PIC microcontrollers from Microchip, such as the now-obsolete PIC 16F84.

I got interested in the capabilities of microcontrollers from articles in the excellent UK electronics magazine Everyday Practical Electronics. At the time (2001) the electronic edition was available for the ridiculously low price of $9.99 for a year. They also sold back issues on business card CD-ROMs dirt cheap as well. I bought a bunch of back issues and subscribed for several years. It is an excellent magazine. In my opinion, better than any of the American publications, and even now its hard to beat the price for the electronic edition ($18.99).

While it is possible to build simple programmers on a breadboard, I decided I wanted something with some decent software and more flexibility to add new chips. At the time, kit 96 was the best deal. I purchased the kit from Dontronics, and added a few parts (wall wart and ZIF socket) from Jameco.

The construction was soldering on a PCB, and was completely uneventful. The directions were well written and easy to follow and the programmer worked perfectly the first time I tried to use it.

The programmer worked well at the time, but suffers from issues with operating system compatibility with each new version of Windows, and timing issues as processors get faster and faster.

I have since purchased a Pickit 2 USB programmer from Microchip Direct. It is a much better deal now than any of the kits, and has support in the MPLAB development environment that no third party programmer can touch. It even has support for in circuit debugging, and software to function as a logic analyzer or logic level serial port (perfect for combined serial port/programming from a single header - like my soon to be posted Tourette's talking practical joke circuit). I understand the Pickit 3 is now available, but have yet to see any good reason to upgrade (although I certainly would buy that now if I was just getting started)

Anyone want to buy an assembled and tested Kit96 programmer cheap?


EPE Magazine

Microchip - Manufacturers of PIC microcontrollers

1 comment:

Xeltek said...

There are many websites to sell diy programmers. You should look for them. Thank you...