Additionally, there is a PIC18F4XK20
development board (see Figure 3) that
is part of a starter kit which includes a
PICkit 2 programmer. This development
board has a lot of nice features,
including an OLED display. If you
want to get started with the PIC18F
MCU and the Microchip MPLAB PIC18
C compiler, this is a great package.
■ FIGURE 4. Breadboard Modules.
Now, if you like to develop with
breadboards — like I often do — then
you may like to add the breadboard
modules (see Figure 4) from Beginner
Electronics ( www.beginnerelectronics.
com) to your list. These boards are
designed to plug in to both the power
rails (for powering the module) and
the breadboard’s general-purpose area
(for connecting to a MCU). There are
various versions available for the
different projects you might create.
There are voltage-regulator,
momentary-switch, LED, EEPROM,
RS-232, and relay module versions,
as well as one with an LCD. All are
designed to plug into a breadboard.
Since the modules don’t fit every type
of breadboard so Beginner Electronics
also sells the breadboard and wire kit.
PICBASIC™ PRO FULL
Now is the
time to ask for
the full version
of the PICBASIC
■ FIGURE 5.
(see Figure 5). I often use the sample
version in the articles here, but once
you get the full version, you’ll wonder
how you survived without it. You will
be able to write programs as big as
you want, using any of the PIC12F,
PIC16F, and PIC18F MCUs. If you
need a book to help you get started
using this compiler, there are several
available. (My first book, Programming
PIC Microcontrollers with PICBASIC is
one option). Some readers still email
me about this compiler being too
expensive. However, people who
have bought and used it tell me
they’ve gotten their money’s worth.
■ FIGURE 6.
Figure 6) is a
alternative to the
PRO version. It limits you to 2K word
program space and doesn’t have all
the advanced commands that PIC
BASIC PRO offers, but I mention it
here because the command set is
directly compatible with the PICAXE®
chips. If you have a design based upon
Revolution Education, Inc.’s, PICAXE
and want more code space in a small,
eight-pin part, then this compiler may
be a great option as a next step. There
are some PICAXE commands this
compiler doesn’t support, so check
out the command set thoroughly
before adding it to your list.
You can never go wrong adding
more PIC MCUs to your lab. Get a few
free samples from http://sample.micro
chip.com for stocking stuffers. These
are the parts I recommend you stock
at a minimum. (You can also buy larger quantities of these from Mouser,
Jameco and microchipDIRECT).
NUTS & VOLTS AND
Back issues of Nuts & Volts or
SERVO Magazine can never be a bad
present. You can get them on CD
and ordering information can be
found in the pages of this magazine
you are reading. Subscription
renewals are a good idea, too.
I might as well
get my self promotion out of the
way and introduce
my latest book,
with PICs — 2006
(see Figure 7).
The book is a
collection of the ■ FIGURE 7. My
first 12 articles Getting Started
(January — with PICs book.
December 2006) from this column,
consolidated into a book. Having
everything in a single bound book
can be helpful. If you missed the
early columns, this may be a nice gift
for your list. This book retails for
$29.95 and can be purchased at my
website ( www.elproducts.com) and
the Nuts & Volts online bookstore
The table of contents includes:
• January 2006 — Designing with the
• February 2006 — Microchip
PIC-Based Resistor Checker
• March 2006 — PIC-to-PC
• April 2006 — Going Beyond 31
• May 2006 — Using the Microchip
• June 2006 — Using the PIC External
November 2008 85