⇒ A Primer for Beginners
by Chuck Helllebuyck
I’ve written several articles
about PICs and even published
my book Programming PIC
Microcontrollers With PicBasic.
Feedback has been tremendous.
Many readers have thanked me
for helping them get started programming PICs with PicBasic. I
also get many readers that were
old TTL hardware guys left
behind by the micro-age and my
book/articles helped them get
back in the game.
Microchip PICs have
invaded most of the
electronic design going on
in the world. The best part
is, as hobbyists and part time professionals (working from your basement
lab), we have access to all the tools we
need to create the designs our creative
minds come up with.
Through a series of articles, I
hope to pass on Microchip PIC design
notes that will help you learn
electronic design. By focusing on
Microchip PICs for the hardware core
and Basic Compilers for the software
core with some assembly inserted
here and there, I hope to get more
people involved and having fun.
In this article though, I’m going to
focus on the beginner and start off by
showing how to put together your
own complete Microchip PIC development set-up for under $50. Let’s first
cover the basics.
A third category of feedback
involves readers that have little
or no electronics background and
with all the different programmers, compilers, microcontroller
choices, software options, etc.,
they are confused and afraid they
would waste a bunch of money
and still not get what they want.
I’m here to tell you it isn’t that
difficult and it doesn’t have to
cost that much to get started.
WHAT IS A MICROCHIP PIC
AND HOW DOES IT WORK?
Microchip is a company that manufactures microcontrollers and other
electronic components. They created
a family of eight-bit microcontrollers
and called them PICs (some say short
for Peripheral Interface Controller).
These PICs could be programmed to
perform an infinite amount of
functions but you might be asking,
“What is a microcontroller?”
Everybody reading this has probably used a computer run by a microprocessor. The PC’s central microprocessor has several support items that allow
it to function. First is the memory, where
programs are stored, also known as a
hard-drive or ROM. Second is the RAM,
or temporary memory, used by programs
running in the PC’s microprocessor. And
third, the interface to the outside world,
through input and output ports also
known as the BIOS (Basic Input Output
System) or I/O.
Through the I/O, the PC sends information to be displayed on the screen
you read, or the printer you might send
documents to. The I/O also reads the
keyboard and mouse position. Basically,