■ FIGURE 5
■ FIGURE 6
but that takes up space. It’s something
to think about.
several people have talked about
these on the various PIC chatrooms,
so it seems to work fine. It also has an
in-circuit serial programming header.
This USB programmer requires a
16V power supply, so if you have
to add power, then that’s another
connection you’ll have to deal with.
That’s one of the big reasons I like my
EZPIC programmer over other serial
port programmers — it gets power
from the serial port.
to your setup.
I quickly discovered that every
one of these programmers — except
the PICKit1 — offers a very simple
in-circuit serial programming hook-up.
This doesn’t mean the PICKit1 can’t
program using this method, but it
does require you to jumper wires from
the PIC socket yourself. What I
discovered is that there isn’t a
standard connection layout for the
in-circuit programming header. I did
find that the PICKit2 and the Olimex
serial port version I use in my Zipper
Pro module (shown in Figure 6) have
the same pinout.
Since Microchip owns the PIC
and Olimex has the same pinout, this
appeared to me to be the closest thing
to establishing a standard. I mention
this because it’s important to know
what programmers are out there
when you develop a PIC development
board for your projects. You can make
a conversion cable but that gets to be
a hassle. You may want to just offer
several different headers on your
board so any programmer will work,
Since this whole process brought
me back to the Olimex programmers I
use with my Zipper Pro, I decided
to check out what
has to offer and discovered their
programmer shown in Figure 7. This
programmer offers a USB connection
with power derived from the USB
port, so no power adapter is required.
It also looks like a PICStart Plus
programmer to MPLAB.
The PICStart Plus is Microchip’s
original serial port programmer, so
with the Olimex version and MPLAB,
this programmer could be a complete
WHAT TO BUY?
This kit appears to be fully
assembled, so it’s not much of a kit.
It’s powered from the USB port which
is great. The big difference is — as you
can see in Figure 5 — this programmer
doesn’t have a socket for the PIC. It is
strictly an in-circuit serial programmer.
This isn’t that much different than the
melabs.com version or the PICKit2,
except both of these offer a PIC
socket board that attaches. You have
to develop your own board to use
this programmer or add jumper wires
■ Chuck Hellebuyck’s Electronic
Products — www.elproducts.com
■ microEngineering Labs
■ Microchip, Inc.
■ Kits R US
■ FIGURE 7
I soon discovered I was only
scratching the surface of USB programmers, but I feel the ones mentioned
here are the cream of the crop. You’ll
have to determine which programmer
is best for your specific needs.
If you are working with PICBasic
Pro and the MCStudio IDE, then the
melabs version appears to be the
best option. If you are working with
assembly or C (and don’t mind
loading the .hex file separately for
PICBasic Pro), then the PICKit2 is very
attractive. Especially since it’s supported by Microchip, has the new debug
feature, and supports most of the
Flash PICs. If you want to learn
assembly language, then the PICKit2
is my preferred choice.
If you currently have a PICStart
Plus on a serial port, but want to move
to USB, then the Olimex might be a
great solution for an MPLAB integrated programmer.
Frankly, I’d like to own several
of these programmers since each
offers a unique feature. (Perhaps I can
put these on my Christmas list.
Programmers would be so much
better than a tie!) Be sure to let me
know your favorite “PIC.” And keep
those emails coming. NV