[time-nuts] Good (cheap) PIC chip choice for project?

Bob Camp lists at rtty.us
Sat May 25 10:22:16 EDT 2013


PIC's have been around for a *long* time. The PIC16's came early on and were followed by the PIC18's. Both are a bit dated at this point. The PIC24's and dsPIC33's are actually very similar parts. The PIC33's form a third family pretty much on their own. A modern version of the Microchip programmer will flash any of the parts. I have never seen a cheap eprom programmer that will program a PIC. The Microchip programmers are dirt cheap, so that's not a real problem. 

I'd strongly recommend getting one of the starter kits for the dsPIC33 and play with it for a while. It should come with a cpu, a programmer, and a ton of information. The toolchain is pretty simple to use and it's free. 


All that said, the Arduino empire is pretty hard to beat when it comes to mashing together a simple little light blinker. The key issue is being able to use cheap China assembled boards off of the auction sites.  Time wise, and even cost wise it's better than doing layouts and soldering up stuff. Another option are the demo boards that the semiconductor companies flog off for next to nothing. The Freescale Freedom board ($12) is one example out of hundreds. The project cost is *never* about the CPU, it's always about all the other stuff around it. 

If the objective is to complete a very simple, low powered project and be done with it, go with the Arduino. If the objective is to learn an empire, be very careful about which empire you pick. The ARM boys are quickly gobbling up a lot of territory that once was populated by a number of competing CPU's. Learning this stuff, and getting good at it is a significant investment of time.


On May 25, 2013, at 9:46 AM, Jason Rabel <jason at extremeoverclocking.com> wrote:

> I've decided I finally want to tackle learning how to use a PIC chip for some smaller projects. Can someone recommend me a good (and
> cheap) PIC, and possible some literature (be it a book or website)? I have a fairly recent willem eprom programmer that I'm hoping I
> can use.
> I don't know what all the features PICs have, but for my first project I would like to have it connected to a serial port on one of
> my Soekris' where it can grab info (i.e. the current time, or NTP/GPS info) and output that on a little LED display.
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