For starters, PIC16C84 is an ideal choice to begin with. PIC16C84 is an 8-bit microcontroller which has 36 bytes of RAM, 64 byes of Data EEPROM memory (electrically erasable), 8-level deep stack, and 13 I/0 pins. Some obvious advantages of PIC16C84 are:
|*||few external components|
|*||low power consumption|
|*||R-C oscillator mode|
|*||only 36 instructions|
|*||flexible 13 I/Os|
|*||simple serial programming scheme|
PIC16C84: Programming Specifications
There are many PIC programmers available in the market. As a starting point,
I would recommend two according to their distinct features. Both could be set up
and running in no time at all. For those who are only interested in programming
PICs and would like to stay away from electronic circuits, the PICSTART
Development Kits by MicroChip would be by far the best choice. At around
US$100, the writer comes with complete softwares and manuals. Operating with a
PC compatible host system, the PICSTART-16B1 enables you to quickly and easily
develop applications for the PIC16Cxx CMOS microcontroller devices. The MPSAM
Assembler, MPSIM Simulator and the Development User's Guide provide instructions
and descriptions easy enough to follow even for first-timers.
For those who are cost conscious, I would reccommend the "No Parts" PIC
Programmers designed by Michael A. Covington (September 1998 Edition) in Electronics Now . The
programmer circuit could not be simpler, made up of a few resistors and
capacitors. The programmer works with a PC via its parallel port in a series
mode and requires a dual +5V and +12V power supply.
There are 2 levels of PIC programming languages. Even for the experts, it is
not easy to be conversant with machine codes in hexadecimal form. For most of
us, it is more comfortable to work with an assembler which converts English-like
readable instructions into machine language understood by microcontrollers.
Learning nemonic instructions for the PIC16C84 family is not very hard because
there are only 36 commands all together. If you do not have an assmebler, you
could download the MPLAB
Assembler System from MicroChip for free. It is just a matter of hours
to grasp the basic and from then on you could be as good as what you want to
EEPROMS offer low-cost, programmable flexibility, maintenance free and compactness in circuit designs. Both the PICSTART and "No Parts" Programmer are excellent tools for programming PICs. Assembler, useful libraries and related softwares are readily available everywhere and free for most. It practically requires no more effort than a few hours' time for anyone to get in touch with the state-of-the-art in microelectornics.