Wednesday, 8 June 2016

EPE: PIC Microcontrollers and the PICkit 3: A beginner's guide – Part 2

This month, is part 2 of an ongoing series going back to basics for PIC Microcontrollers and the PICkit3.

Over the coming months, I'll be covering everything from the difference between microcontrollers and microprocessors to Microchip's MPLAB X IDE, the PIC Low Pin Count Demo Board and the incredibly useful PICkit3 programmer tool. I hope to build a strong foundation of understanding for microcontroller programming and project design.

This month I take a look at Microchip's MPLAB X IDE. This integrated development environment allows us an easy allow in one package that allows us to write and compile our code, manage our projects and libraries, as well as program and debug our PIC microcontrollers from a single visual platform. This is the tool for designing any PIC project.

If you've always to give PICs a try, but didn't know where to start, then I recommend checking out last months article in Everyday Practical Electronics.

You can buy the latest edition in PDF format online at or you can buy it off from the shelf in your nearest newsagents.

To follow along with the articles, I recommend getting your hands on the following:
1. Purchase the PICkit 3 Low Pin Count Demo Board (
2. Purchase the PICkit 3 Programmer + USB Cable (
3. Download PICkit 3 Starter Kit User’s Guide (
4. Download MPLAB X IDE (
5. Download XC8 Compiler (

I can't fit everything in the article, so whatever extra I have, might end up here on my blog page. So be sure to check back regularly for more cool projects.

Next month, I'll be getting my hands dirty with some lessons and some coding, based off the PICkit3 Starter Kit User Guide from Microchip's website. It's a decent PDF, but if you're new to PICs, then it can be a minefield.