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Reading rainbow moment

reading rainbow logo

Excuse me, but I’m about to have a reading rainbow moment.

If you’ve ever wanted to program microcontrollers, or understand how embedded computers work, but didn’t know where to start, Tom Igoe’s book is the place for you.

dah dah daaaah!

Here’s Tom Igoe’s website, a helpful article on choosing microcontrollers, and his course’s page (i’m not enrolled though, unfortuantely!

Its a fantastic book and I would recommend it for anyone with even a passing interest in the subject.

Extremely well written, fun to read, and full of pointers.

I would also recommend it for any undergraduate electrical/computer engineers taking any sort of assembly language or hardware programming course. Definitely beneficial.

In the book he’s covering the PIC 18F452 (an 8-bit chip), and BASIC Stamp-like chips. He uses BASIC (Beginner’s All Purpose Instruction Code) to program the chips. Tom outlines the benefits of using a Stamp-like chip vs the PIC chips in the book quite clearly.


Anyhow, I was personally very interested in learning about using C to program a microcontroller.

So here are some notes on PIC (from randomly bouncing around the internet, mostly)

A bit about PIC microcontrollers

  • The PIC microcontroller can be programmed in C.
  • There’s a good outline of the PIC on Wikipedia
  • A few articles were written about the PIC-32 when it first came out.
  • There IS a DEFACTO standard IDE for microcontroller software program development: MicroCode Studio is FREE and it really is kind of like Visual Studio.
  • MPLAB C32, c compiler so your c programs can go down to the 32-bit PIC, is $1,195 (no joke!). You can USE a limited version for free though, that supports up to 64K programs (which I believe is plenty big if you’re just starting out — old DOS programs used to fit in 64K of mems!)
  • 8-bit, 16-bit and 32-bit chips . . . ?

  • “bittage” on Wikipedia
  • Microchip creates 8-bit microcontrollers: ALL WITH NAMES MATCHING:

    • PIC10*
    • PIC12*
    • PIC14*
    • PIC16*
    • PIC18*
    • ALL IN THIS LIST ARE 8-bit. There are the MOST available different types of chips in 8-bit. Here’s the datasheets page for the 8-bit Microchip products.
    • The 8-bit chips feature 128K Flash, 16 MIPS, and 250+options

    Microchip creates 16-bit microcontrollers: ALL WITH NAMES MATCHING

    • dsPIC30*
    • dsPIC33*
    • PIC24*
    • ALL IN THIS LIST ARE 16-bit
    • The 16-bit chips feature 256K Flash, 40 MIPS, and 150+options

    Microchip creates 32-bit microcontrollers: ALL WITH NAMES MATCHING

  • check: product listing page.

  • ONLINE STORES:

    • parallax.com
    • microchip.com
    • jameco.com
    • rabbit.com
    • sparkfun.com
    • ONLINE EDUCATIONAL RESOURCES

      More misc helpful links

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