PICmicro® information

Getting started

What is a PIC?

PIC®, or PICmicro®, refers to a family of low-cost microcontrollers made by Microchip Technology (www.microchip.com). Microcontrollers are self-contained computers, in the form of an IC (integrated circuit, or chip), that you can build into a circuit and program to accomplish a specific task.

Why use the PICmicro®?

PICmicro® microcontrollers and supporting products are simple, inexpensive, fast, and available from a number of suppliers and distributors. Microchip is one of the top vendors, by volume, of embedded microcontrollers and related ICs.

Are Siriusmicro products like a Basic Stamp?

Yes, and no. Basic Stamps are a versatile series of programmable modules made by Parallax, Inc. (www.parallax.com). Basic Stamps are programmed in a high-level BASIC-like syntax, and the programs run in a circuit containing a Basic Stamp module.

Siriusmicro products are designed to teach you low-level assembly code programming. You use a development system like the CHRP and free software tools to learn programming and test your code. Then, you can make and program your own circuits using low-cost microcontroller chips.

What is assembly code?

Assembly code is a human-readable form of the machine code instructions that control microcontrollers and microprocessors.

Assembly code programs are written in a text editor. Once complete, they are compiled into machine code by an assembler program, and downloaded into the microcontroller.

See more on assembly code programming.

See the MPLAB tutorial.


How do I program PICs?

The examples on this website use Microchip's free MPLAB IDE (Integraded Development Environment) to program the CHRP, UFO, and BMP using assembly code. You can download the MPLAB IDE from Microchip Technology (www.microchip.com). MPLAB consists of a source code editor, assembler, and program simulator. In addition, MPLAB can control some Microchip and third party programmers.

CHRP programming

Programs are downloaded into the CHRP board by connecting it to your computer's serial port and using Shane Tolmie's free bootloader/downloader package, available from the MicrochipC site (www.microchipc.com).

To use serial programming with the CHRP board, your PIC® microcontroller needs to be pre-programmed with the bootloader.

If you build your own CHRP circuit, or buy the CHRP bare board, you will need either a separate programmer to program your microcontroller, or a PIC® pre-programmed with the bootloader to use the serial programming feature.

Once you have programmed your PIC® with the bootloader, or if you have a pre-assembled CHRP board, you will need a 9-pin serial cable to program the CHRP with the included downloader program. If your newer PC or laptop has no serial port, a USB to serial converter can be used for programming.

UFO & BMP programming

Programs are downloaded into the UFO and BMP using Microchip's PICkit-2 USB programmer. This programmer is readily available from Digi-Key (www.digikey.com).

If you build your own UFO or BMP circuit, you will need either a PICkit-2 programmer, or a programmer capable of programming the 8-pin mid-range PICs. You can also purchase a UFO or BMP PIC® pre-programmed with the circuit function that you would like.

Third party

PIC® programming languages

PIC® programming hardware

Mac/Linux PIC® resources