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KatyBri
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2008/10/04 19:11:44 (permalink)
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Just getting started with Microchip-need advice

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
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    leon_heller
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    RE: Just getting started with Microchip-need advice 2008/10/04 20:45:26 (permalink)
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    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


    Leon Heller
    G1HSM

    #2
    dchisholm
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    RE: Just getting started with Microchip-need advice 2008/10/04 20:56:02 (permalink)
    +2 (2)
    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.
    post edited by dchisholm - 2009/12/19 12:52:21
    #3
    atferrari
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    RE: Just getting started with Microchip-need advice 2008/10/05 02:07:04 (permalink)
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    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

    Agustín Tomás

    In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, however, there is.

    http://cablemodem.fibertel.com.ar/atferrari/
    #4
    paulbergsman
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    RE: Just getting started with Microchip-need advice 2008/10/05 05:42:57 (permalink)
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    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
    post edited by paulbergsman - 2008/10/05 06:07:00

    Paul Bergsman, N3PSO


    For the most cost effective PIC prototyping board around:
    http://mysite.verizon.net/vzes94mj/picprototypingboard
    #5
    Stefan Uhlemayr
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    RE: Just getting started with Microchip-need advice 2008/10/05 12:12:43 (permalink)
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    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
    -------------------------------------------------------------------
    [ General Circuit-Design-Questions:                                ]
    -------------------------------------------------------------------

    How should I start with PIC's: from Dale Chisholm


    Thanks again,
    Stefan
    #6
    Stefan Uhlemayr
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    RE: Just getting started with Microchip-need advice 2008/10/05 12:23:06 (permalink)
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    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
    #7
    paulbergsman
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    RE: Just getting started with Microchip-need advice 2008/10/05 18:17:15 (permalink)
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    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
    post edited by paulbergsman - 2008/10/06 04:17:55

    Paul Bergsman, N3PSO


    For the most cost effective PIC prototyping board around:
    http://mysite.verizon.net/vzes94mj/picprototypingboard
    #8
    Stefan Uhlemayr
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    RE: Just getting started with Microchip-need advice 2008/10/06 03:34:07 (permalink)
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    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
    #9
    CraigHB
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    RE: Just getting started with Microchip-need advice 2008/10/06 13:26:53 (permalink)
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    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.

    Attached Image(s)

    #10
    leon_heller
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    RE: Just getting started with Microchip-need advice 2008/10/06 14:31:41 (permalink)
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    I just make PCBs at home, for quick prototyping.

    Leon


    Leon Heller
    G1HSM

    #11
    CraigHB
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    RE: Just getting started with Microchip-need advice 2008/10/07 14:12:16 (permalink)
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    What method go you use?  I can do simple ones for through hole componenets, but I've never been able to get the resolution good enough for parts like a 44 pin TQFP.
    #12
    leon_heller
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    RE: Just getting started with Microchip-need advice 2008/10/07 14:30:22 (permalink)
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    I do the artwork on a cheap HP DeskJet printer, on Mega Electronics JetStar Premium film. I can do 8 mil tracks or less, but usually use 10 or12 mil.

    Leon


    Leon Heller
    G1HSM

    #13
    dchisholm
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    RE: Just getting started with Microchip-need advice 2008/10/08 17:48:48 (permalink)
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    ORIGINAL: 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 . . .
    It means a LOT when a respected co-worker thinks I did a good job.  Thanks!

    But it now appears the effort was expended for a drive-by posting . . .

    Dale
    #14
    dchisholm
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    RE: Just getting started with Microchip-need advice 2008/10/08 17:52:25 (permalink)
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    ORIGINAL: CraigHB

    What method go you use?  I can do simple ones for through hole componenets, but I've never been able to get the resolution good enough for parts like a 44 pin TQFP.
    The Yahoo Group "Homebrew_PCBs" features a lot of folks who etch their own boards, using toner-transfer and other methods.

    Dale
    #15
    CraigHB
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    RE: Just getting started with Microchip-need advice 2008/10/09 15:17:25 (permalink)
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    Thanks for that link.  I'll check it out.
    #16
    Hanspeter
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    RE: Just getting started with Microchip-need advice 2008/11/05 07:13:58 (permalink)
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    Hi CraigHB,

    I believe a new thread should be started on how to BREW PCB PROTOTYPE IN A FLASH.

    Some of the more experience contributors to this fora probably has a wealth of information on this
    and the safety use of chemicals especially where beginners are concerned.

    I have been using toner transfer method for over twelve & half years for even small scale production runs.

    CAUTION: FERRIC CHLORIDE MUST BE HANDLED WITH CARE. THIS IS A MESSY CHEMISTRY.

    1. If you will be prototyping most of all your projects then it's a good investment
      to get yourself an A4 size Laminator that can handle media thickness of about 400 - 600 microns.
      Laminators with Four rollers is OK, eg Swordfish 240HD with the Temperature nob at maximum setting.
      Optionally you can modify the circuit with one or two resistors to increase the roller temp. to around
     200C - 270C.

    2. For just one time PCB prototyping a Pressing Iron with settings to Linens will do the job.
      But remember repeatability for PCB track widths of less than 0.4mm can be problematic with
      pressing irons. Pressing too firmly in order to transfer toner to PCB might spread SMD pads
      & tracks to bridge.

    3. Laser printers with toners made from pulverized plastic is the key.
      Thanks to HP marketing strategy, these days HP is selling its laser printers almost for the
      price of a toner cartridge.
      The old HP laser printers are the best, these deliver darker/dense toners onto the printing media.
      My preference is for the HP Laserjet 3 till this broke down, but am currently using
      HP Laserjet 1022 for PCB toner transfers.
     
    4. This is the key. Paper to print your PCB circuit layout on.
      If you live in Africa, get yourself the DStv GUIDE magazine, this is a low cost
      colour semi glossy paper of about 40 microns thick.
      In the UK get the Toolstation catalog or ARGOS catalog. Maplin catalog might work, not tried it.
      One clue is that, when these magazine are sufficiently wet, rubbing it between your thumb & forefinger
     the paper easily breaks up under running water.

    See http://www.dr-lex.be/info-stuff/tonertransfer.html for building your prototype PCB step by step.

    The website above make reference to PulsarProFX. Here is my personal experience with their toner transfer
    paper/card.

    A pack of 10 sheets cost $14.95
    20.3cm x 457.2cm toner sealing film cost $8.95
    All above cost exclude shipping.

    Upsides of PulsarProFX Toner Transfer paper:
    1. Paper thickness of about 220 microns makes it dimensionally stable.
      More of a light card than paper.

    2. The dextrin coating on the card promotes an excellent toner release when socked in water.
       It releases the toner like magic.
       Besides you don't have to rub off the paper with a brush or your fingers to loosen the paper.

    3. The toner transfer paper can be used for the second time.
       As soon as the toner is released, place the transfer paper on a flat surface.
      Do not heat to dry, as this may curl the paper.
       Once the dextrin coating is touch dry, place the paper in between two PCB's to straighting out any creases.

    4. Toner sealing film gives a nice shiny green colour over the black toner given an impression of a
       solder resist coating.

    Downsides of PulsarProFX Toner Transfer paper:
    1. It's difficult for the toner to adhear in a dense manner as you would expect from other printing media.
      Remember under printer properties, Print Density is set to max.
      EconoMode is off. Resolution at 600 or 1200dpi.

    2. With paper thickness of about 220 microns you will have to select a higher toner fuser temperature setting.
       You do this under 'Paper Options'. Bond, Archive or Cardstock gives a higher fuser temperature,
       whiles light< 75g/m2 and Transparency gives a lower fuser temperature comparatively.
       With Lower temperatures the fuser is unable to cause the toner to bind to the dextrin coating.

    3. Paper thickness of 220 microns makes toner transfer to PCB not an exact science, even with a modified
       laminator with temperature setting at 270C, and running the PCB a couple of times through the laminator.

    4. Applying the GreenTRF toner sealing film on toner areas with micro pores does not cover these micro gaps well.
       My impressions of the GreenTRF is for aesthetics I must say.

    I have been using toner transfer for PCB prototyping and small scale productions runs with 100% repeatability
    over the past twelve years. It works so well.

    For prototypes I never bother to remove the toner over the copper tracks, but for the SMD pads I do it with
    a blunt 0.8mm drill bit on a flexible drive shaft with motor running.

    I must be possibly doing something wrong for the toner transfer paper from PulsarProFX not to work 100%
    all of the time.

    Developing code for Microchip microcontrollers and not able to field test ones application on a PCB must be
    a challenging one.

    It's worth while to invest in desktop PCB fabrication tools, it's entirely possible to do this on your own.

    I stand to be corrected.

    Cheers Hanspeter.
    post edited by Hanspeter - 2008/11/05 07:26:31

    Remember! IDE is FREE. Do NOT Complain!
    #17
    CraigHB
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    RE: Just getting started with Microchip-need advice 2008/11/05 15:44:38 (permalink)
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    Thanks for the extensive information.  I'll definitely be referencing it in the future.
     
      - Craig
    #18
    bipinskl
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    RE: Just getting started with Microchip-need advice 2010/06/11 03:33:40 (permalink)
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    Dear sir,
    I am getting started with pic programming,.
    I shall be highly obliged if anyone can suggest me how to pick up files from various s/w and how to build the project.

    BIPIN SHUKLA
    #19
    TechFan01
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    Re: RE: Just getting started with Microchip-need advice 2010/07/08 13:54:55 (permalink)
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    Hi,

    I just read your post about how to make the prototyping board for TQFP. that is very interest.
    I have the problem for working on the high pin(80pin). I order the
    HPC explorer board(for 18f8722) and Plug-in-module for 18F87k22, but cannot connect them for communication. the 0.05" pitch will be problem. after search, even I can get the breakout board from vendor, but they didn't work on assembly. so may I need follow your way done by myself.
    the question is how assembly the pic to the board? if need to assembly by others, who and what's the cost for assembly?
    I just think another way: if have the connector for 0.05' pitch, like on the demo board, that will be fine too.

    from this point, I really need to learn a lot from you. thanks for any suggestions and information.

    T.F.

    #20
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