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DIY Stompboxes => Digital & DSP => Topic started by: dbp512 on March 22, 2016, 07:34:13 PM

Title: Should I get a PIC programmer?
Post by: dbp512 on March 22, 2016, 07:34:13 PM
I'm building a few circuits that require a TAPLFO chip, and the price at smallbear is over $35 with shipping and tax. Now I don't mind supporting Tom and his wonderful digital endeavors, but in the spirit of the whole DIY philosophy I thought why buy a few chips if I could instead buy the ability to make whatever I want. Especially because this batch of chips is about half the price of the programmer. I haven't done much with C beyond a text adventure, but I did pick up python, ruby and java pretty quickly. I'd be excited to learn, and it would allow me to expand into other endeavors (youtube has some fancy LED projects). But I don't know any of the hardware or software to use, so I'm not sure how much hassle it would be to get started. So I ask you, would jumping in with both feet like this be a good idea or is it easier to just buy the flashed controllers and not worry about programming things yet? From a purely monetary standpoint I don't think it would be worth it because I don't see myself building 7 or more digital based pedals in the near future, but it would give me the tools to build more things, and isn't that what we're going for here? In case you can't tell I'm super indecisive so writing this down helps to get my thoughts together. Any comments, advice, or suggestions would be appreciated, especially concerning the hardware.
Title: Re: Should I get a PIC programmer?
Post by: Digital Larry on March 22, 2016, 10:10:33 PM
My opinion: absolutely!  Keep in mind that I worked 15 years as an electronics engineer so I got my fill of building things and soldering irons and scopes.  After that. I got more into programming and it's a fun thing to do because it's almost constant mental problem solving without having to deal with the same level of pain for making a mistake, compared to hardware.

I discovered in the work world that hardware engineering has tons more risk avoidance/mitigation (e.g. peer reviews, design rule checking) so you don't spend $20,000 making a set of prototypes that will need to be thrown away because someone forgot to add thermals to the vias on internal ground planes (or whatever).
Title: Re: Should I get a PIC programmer?
Post by: dbp512 on March 23, 2016, 12:34:21 PM
Do you have any suggestions for a programmer? Would something like this work: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004GRSZOG/ref=cm_sw_su_dp (http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004GRSZOG/ref=cm_sw_su_dp)? Is it standalone or do I also need a PICkit? The PICkit doesn't have a DIP socket so it clearly can't program chips on its own, so what does it do? If there was a resource to get me started with all this I'd love to check it out. I tried to google, but I haven't found any guide that answer these questions. Thanks for any help you can give!
Title: Re: Should I get a PIC programmer?
Post by: slacker on March 23, 2016, 02:44:09 PM
Yeah that programmer will do the job, it says it's compatible with MPLAB which is Microchips development/programming software so it will be a Pickit clone with a built in Zif socket.
A real pickit just has a header socket on it so to program DIP chips you just need to make a cable that plugs into the socket and then connect it to the chip on a breadboard.
The software you need is all free and can be downloaded here http://www.microchip.com/mplab/mplab-x-ide (http://www.microchip.com/mplab/mplab-x-ide)
Title: Re: Should I get a PIC programmer?
Post by: samhay on March 24, 2016, 06:18:16 AM
short answer - yes
longer answer - I use one of these: https://www.olimex.com/Products/PIC/Programmers/PIC-KIT3/ and I don't have any reason not to recomend it.
Title: Re: Should I get a PIC programmer?
Post by: ElectricDruid on March 24, 2016, 10:09:26 AM
Another "Yes!" from me. Grab a programmer, burn a few chips, build a few projects, and then start programming away.

I use a PICKit3. Even the genuine ones aren't that expensive, though the clones are less. Slacker mentioned that they don't power the chips, so you either need the chip powered up on a breadboard that you can connect the programmer to, or I have a ZIF socket for the same job. For prototypes on stripboard, I usually arrange things so I can program the uP in circuit.

Good luck!

Tom

PS: If you go down this route and have any trouble, drop me an email.
Title: Re: Should I get a PIC programmer?
Post by: dbp512 on March 24, 2016, 01:47:29 PM
Well the group opinion is a decisive yes, so I'm going to go for it. I'll most likely get something with a ZIF socket just to make things a bit easier, or at least give me the option as it looks like the one I liked to before has the pins for connecting to the circuit as well. One question I have, can a 16F688 run the TAPLFO code? Its pin compatible to the 684 typically used, but there are a few differences (I'm not sure if they're relevant).
Title: Re: Should I get a PIC programmer?
Post by: ElectricDruid on March 24, 2016, 02:36:22 PM
One question I have, can a 16F688 run the TAPLFO code? Its pin compatible to the 684 typically used, but there are a few differences (I'm not sure if they're relevant).

I've never tried it, but I'd say not. The '688 doesn't seem to have Timer 2 or the PWM module.

Contrary to the usual Microchip "logic" the part with the higher number in this case seems to have a lower spec.

Tom
Title: Re: Should I get a PIC programmer?
Post by: dbp512 on March 24, 2016, 03:07:06 PM
Good to know. Thanks for saving me a couple of bucks!
Title: Re: Should I get a PIC programmer?
Post by: grenert on March 24, 2016, 05:29:30 PM
Definitely makes sense to get a programmer if you plan on doing more than a one-off project, and really, there are so many projects that use PIC chips you're best off just getting the programmer.  Paying $15 for a pre-programmed chip (if it's even available) vs. $2 for a blank one and programming yourself can really add up.
I got a PICKit2 (seem to remember it had some advantage over the PICKit3 at the time), but I'm sure the PICKit3 is fine.  The software is very easy to use.
Title: Re: Should I get a PIC programmer?
Post by: Ice-9 on March 24, 2016, 07:29:57 PM
Definitely, go for it. It can open up a great deal of fun with many available projects, Gooligum has some great tutorials on PIC programing

I got a PICKit2 (seem to remember it had some advantage over the PICKit3 at the time), but I'm sure the PICKit3 is fine.  The software is very easy to use.

Yeah, the Pickit2 has the advantage of being able to program EEproms as well, for some reason the Pickit3 can't. I have no idea if this restriction carries on to the clones of the Pickit programmers though.

Title: Re: Should I get a PIC programmer?
Post by: grenert on March 24, 2016, 11:23:15 PM
Yeah, the Pickit2 has the advantage of being able to program EEproms as well, for some reason the Pickit3 can't. I have no idea if this restriction carries on to the clones of the Pickit programmers though.
Ah, yes, that's it.  In fact, I probably use mine more for EEPROMs than for PICs!   :icon_lol:
Title: Re: Should I get a PIC programmer?
Post by: hgamal on March 25, 2016, 05:36:51 PM
Another vantage of Pickit2 is the ability of programmer to select different programming voltages.

My FV-1 project uses 24LC32A attached to FV1 memory wires. As I have doubts if  FV-1 can stand 5 volts over those wires, I use the voltage selection feature to do the on circuit program of 24LC32.

See the command line bellow:

Code: [Select]
[hgamal@ygamal DSP]$ pk2cmd -p 24LC32A -M -A3.3 -Fhexout/dsp-nano.hex
Title: Re: Should I get a PIC programmer?
Post by: Ice-9 on March 25, 2016, 06:37:53 PM
Another vantage of Pickit2 is the ability of programmer to select different programming voltages.

My FV-1 project uses 24LC32A attached to FV1 memory wires. As I have doubts if  FV-1 can stand 5 volts over those wires, I use the voltage selection feature to do the on circuit program of 24LC32.

See the command line bellow:

Code: [Select]
[hgamal@ygamal DSP]$ pk2cmd -p 24LC32A -M -A3.3 -Fhexout/dsp-nano.hex

That is good practice when programming an eeprom that is connected to a 3.3v FV-1 chip. There are other ways to connect the Pickit2 so that you don't need to worry in case you forget to change the voltage when other parts of the circuit are 3.3v like the FV-1 is. but I am getting OT.