2008/10/04 19:11:44
KatyBri
Hello,
 
Im just getting started with Microchip. After looking over their web site, I quickly became overwhelmed! I would appreciate any suggestions on how I should get started to learn, and the minimum items I need to download or purchase.
 
Thank you
2008/10/04 20:45:26
leon_heller
Get a PICkit 2 with the mid-range demo board - about $35 - and work though some of the examples.

These tutorials are excellent:

http://www.gooligum.com.au/tutorials.html

Leon

2008/10/04 20:56:02
dchisholm
  1. Put some information in your profile so we have some idea of who we are replying to, where you are located (helps us guess what your first language is and when you are most likely to see a post), and what experience you have already had with general electronics, digital logic and its terminology, formal languages and programming, etc.

  2. This Forum can be a source of tremendous help.  Get acquainted with its organization, operating protocol and Guidelines.  No, you have NOT done anything wrong (though the "Getting started with PIC's . . . " subforum may have been a better choice for your post).  Initiative is a highly respected trait around here - give some indication that you have tried to find an answer to your question, and people will rush to your assistance.  (It also helps you avoid asking stupid questions.)

  3. Download and install the MPLAB Development Suite.  If you KNOW for CERTAIN that your first "real" project will involve "C" language on a PIC 18, dsPIC or PIC 32, download the demo versions of their respective C-Compilers.  You're still going to learn some Assembler programming as a way to get acquainted with PIC architectures and capabilities, but you can start getting acquainted with the high-level language's syntax and quirks while this happens.

  4. Give SERIOUS consideration to obtaining at least a PICKit2 Programmer/Debugger.  At US$35 - about half the cost of the textbook for a typical college engineering class - it is perhaps the best value for a hardware programmer/debugger offered by ANY microcontroller manufacturer.  (There are some third-party clones of this tool available.  The price is about the same, but the third-party vendors think they have enhanced the tool with additional features and conveniences.)

    Many topics related to this tool have been thoroughly discussed in the "Programmers" subforum.

  5. There is some information in the links from Microchip's "Getting Started With PIC's" page, but in my opinion it is directed toward people who already have some familiarity with microcontrollers.

  6. You may want to take about 30 minutes to read through the (approx) dozen pages in Microchip's "Getting Started With Development Tools" introduction.  As I recall, the "MPLAB IDE User's Guide" has a chapter or two that walks you through starting a project, building, and simulating a simple program.  The "MPLAB IDE Quick-Start Guide" may also be useful.

  7. Recently, the "Gooligum Electronics tutorials" have been very well-received.  His tutorials are still under development.  They use both the "baseline" and "midrange" families, programmed with a 3rd-party "C"-compiler, as well as the (MUCH!) more capable 16Fxxx product line with Assembly language. That work's author is "meikled" around here.   (If you have a problem, post a question in this Forum telling what you are having trouble with and where you have already looked for a solution.  Many of your questions have already been answered in previous threads on the Forum.)

    For several years I pointed inexperienced users to the "Elmer 160" tutorial.  It may be a little outdated regarding the latest MPLAB features, though the information about PIC Assembly language is accurate.  The author of that tutorial goes by "jjmcd" on this Forum.  He uses the 16F84A as a way to learn PIC Assembly language but the lessons are easily adapted to other 16Fxxx processors, and not difficult to modify for 18Fxxx.  Again, don't be afraid to ask for help when you can't find an answer.

    (Please respect these authors' time by not asking technical questions with the Forum's "Private Message" feature.  Technical questions belong in a Forum thread, where everybody can learn from them.)

    Another recent tutorial effort using "C" on 18Fxxx processors is Dr. Peatman's latest (NO CHARGE TO DOWNLOAD!!) book "Coin-Cell Powered Embedded Design" (and the "Quick and Low" board that supports it).  And, there is Dr. Reese's book "Microprocessors: From Assembly to "C" with the PIC18Fxx2".   This is used in college courses taught by the author, so there are things like Course Notes and Powerpoint Presentations floating around the web to augment the book's material.


  8. There is a LOT of other no-cost information about PIC's on the web.  Some of it is excellent and some is very poorly done.  Additional on-line tutorials were recommended in various links from This Old Thread.  And several replies in This Recent Thread include practical advice for inexperienced users.

  9. The general "How do I get started?" question appears on the Forum every week or so.  Search old threads; some that I contributed to include One From A Couple Months Ago and  This Recent Thread and This One and Another One and Here Also and This Too or Maybe Here.  The question is usually posed by folks who are at the "What, exactly, is a microcontroller?" level - so the learning resources that answer it touch on basic electronics, digital logic, and programming fundamentals as well as the Microchip tools and products themselves.
Dale

Edit: Added Dr Peatman's book to the tutorial discussion.
Updated link to MPLAB User's guide.
2008/10/05 02:07:04
atferrari
Hola Dale,
 
The contents of your replies on this subject are improving every time! Have you consider to upload it to a site and just drop a link here?
 
I wish I had such a reply when I started... but there was no Internet available at that time. At least not for me. To post here, I had to send a letter to the Administrators grin grin grin
2008/10/05 05:42:57
paulbergsman
ORIGINAL: KatyBri

Hello,

Im just getting started with Microchip. After looking over their web site, I quickly became overwhelmed! I would appreciate any suggestions on how I should get started to learn, and the minimum items I need to download or purchase.

Thank you


Hello KatyBri;

The only thing you have to buy is a PICkit2, with it's assembled and tested daughter board, for about $50.00.
Everything else, including MPLAB, data sheets, application notes, and product samples, are free from Microchip.

Start with the 16F Mid-Range products.
One of the most robust 16F series chips is the 16F887. You can order samples from this web site.

The Microchips 16F series of microcontrollers have extensive application notes.
The 16F data sheets include sample code for every on-board module.

99.5% of the mid-range data-sheets, and application notes, include code written in assembly language.
Not a big deal since there are only 32 16F assembly language instructions. And, you really should be comfortable with assembly language before moving  on to C.  C is much more efficient with the higher end PICs.

If you must get a compiler, consider the PicBasicPro from Micro Engineering Labs. In comparison tests, it compiled tighter and faster code than it's Basic, and C, competition. A fully working demo with sample programs is available from their web site.

The high-end PICs have more memory, more instructions [many are C-friendly instructions], some specialized modules, and no register banking,.

But, there are some problems.  Microchip assumes you know what your are doing. So, the high-end PICs tend to  have skimpy documentation.  Many of the code samples are in C. Again, your really should have a working knowledge of assembly language first.

A bigger problem is the chip packaging. Many high-end PICs do not come in DIP packages.  For many, that makes prototyping very difficult, if not impossible.

hope this information helps.

good luck
2008/10/05 12:12:43
Stefan Uhlemayr
Wow, thanks Dale for this reference! I've changed my link in the "Flying with HardWare Favorites Gallery List" to this post now:
ORIGINAL: Flying with HardWare Favorites Gallery List
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[ General Circuit-Design-Questions:                                ]
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How should I start with PIC's: from Dale Chisholm


Thanks again,
Stefan
2008/10/05 12:23:06
Stefan Uhlemayr
Hi Paul,

while I agree with most parts from your post, I have two questions:
ORIGINAL: paulbergsman

...But, there are some problems.  Microchip assumes you know what your are doing. So, the high-end PICs tend to  have skimpy documentation...
Shouldn't you always know what you are doing?wink And why do you think, that the high-end PIC's tend to have a skimpy documentation? At least, I haven't done this experience...

Greetings,
Stefan

ps: There are 35 PIC16-instructions, but this was shurely only a typo from you.Smile
2008/10/05 18:17:15
paulbergsman
ORIGINAL: Stefan Uhlemayr

Hi Paul,

while I agree with most parts from your post, I have two questions:
ORIGINAL: paulbergsman

...But, there are some problems.  Microchip assumes you know what your are doing. So, the high-end PICs tend to  have skimpy documentation...
Shouldn't you always know what you are doing?wink And why do you think, that the high-end PIC's tend to have a skimpy documentation? At least, I haven't done this experience...

Greetings,
Stefan

ps: There are 35 PIC16-instructions, but this was surely only a typo from you.Smile


Hello Stefan Uhlemayr;

1) Yes, as you well know, there are only 35 mid-range instructions.
[NUMBER OF INSTRUCTIONS CORRECTED BY PAUL BERGSMAN ON OCT/6/2008]

2) I have found the high-end data sheets lacking in examples on how to init/set-up, read, and write to on-board modules.

When someone is just starting out, they do not always know what they are doing.
The mid-range data sheet examples, and application notes, are a big help.
The focus of high-end application notes is not for those just starting out.  Maybe I am not clearly expressing the concept. But, I have left similar comments before. And, others have also expressed the same thoughts.

So, since you agree with most parts of my last post, would you agree that someone, just starting out, will have a shorter learning cycle if he starts with 16F, mid-range PICs?

Paul
2008/10/06 03:34:07
Stefan Uhlemayr
ORIGINAL: paulbergsman

1) Yes, as you well know, there are only 32 mid-range instructions.
Where you got this 32??? You may count again: ADDWF, ANDWF, CLRF, CLRW, COMF, DECF, DECFSZ, INCF, INCFSZ, IORWF, MOVF, MOVWF, NOP, RLF, RRF, SUBWF, SWAPF, XORWF, BCF, BSF, BTFSC, BTFSS, ADDLW, ANDLW, CALL, CLRWDT, GOTO, IORLW, MOVLW, RETFIE, RETLW, RETURN, SLEEP, SUBLW, XORLW => I count 35 instructions...

ORIGINAL: paulbergsman

2) I have found the high-end data sheets lacking in examples on how to init/set-up, read, and write to on-board modules.

When someone is just starting out, they do not always know what they are doing.
The mid-range data sheet examples, and application notes, are a big help.
You may have a look to the PIC18-reference-manual. While written for the PIC18C-controllers, most parts are still guilty. Inside this book you will find more informations then in the datasheets, including code-examples, detailled examples of the instruction-set etc. The link to this book you'll find in the "Flying with HardWare Favorites Gallery List".

ORIGINAL: paulbergsman

So, since you agree with most parts of my last post, would you agree that someone, just starting out, will have a shorter learning cycle if he starts with 16F, mid-range PICs?
The shorter learning cycle for the PIC16F has its reason in the fact, that there are some very good tutorials available for this PIC-family (elmer and gooligum for example). If there would be a tutorial of comparable quality for the PIC18 available, then I would only suggest to start with these PIC's (because of some pretty fine advantages, for example no code-paging, ram-banking much easier (and in most cases not necessary), big ram-sizes, which are coherent etc...).

Greetings,
Stefan
2008/10/06 13:26:53
CraigHB
ORIGINAL: paulbergsman
A bigger problem is the chip packaging. Many high-end PICs do not come in DIP packages.  For many, that makes prototyping very difficult, if not impossible.

 
I use a break-out board for the 44 and 64 pin TQFP parts.  It's not terribly difficult to solder them by hand with some magnification.  I just draw them up myself and have them manufactured.  http://batchpcb.com is good inexpensive option for this.

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