Targeted at individual engineers and educational institutions, Microchip Technology's $36 PICkit starter kit serves as a foundation for the evaluation, development, and programming of applications based on four of the company's microcontrollers: the PIC12F629, the PIC12F675, the PIC16F630, and the PIC16F676.
Measuring 3 by 4.5 inches, the printed circuit board's evaluation area features eight LEDs, one potentiometer, one switch, a sample 8-pin PIC12F675 Flash device, and USB-powered programming tool that will run on a PC.
The kit also has a development area, which includes a snap-off prototype board that enables users to connect external circuitry to the microcontroller to set up an application-specific prototype. Developers program the PICmicro Flash microcontroller by means of a standalone graphical user interface (GUI).
The kit includes a CD-ROM that provides a user's guide with tutorials and example software code, the MPLAB integrated development environment (IDE) with HI-TECH PICC Lite C compiler, Microchip's “Software and Hardware Tips n' Tricks for 8-Pin Microcontrollers,” and a USB interface cable.
The MPLAB IDE includes an MPASM macro assembler, an MPLAB SIM software simulator with symbolic debugger, a color-coded source editor, and a project manager with high-level language debugging and concurrent support for development tools, including low-cost in-circuit debuggers, real-time emulators, and programmers. The graphic user interface of the MPLAB desktop allows switching between development, debugging and programming modes within a project.
The 8-pin PIC12F629 and PIC12F675 devices and the 14-pin PIC16F630 and PIC16F676 devices offer 1792 bytes of flash program memory, 64 bytes of RAM memory, and 128 bytes of EEPROM memory with 1,000,000 erase/write cycles. The PIC12F675 and PIC16F676 feature a 10-bit analog-to-digital converter. The microcontrollers offer analog and digital peripherals, including a comparator module, voltage reference, and Timer 1 oscillator. Future 8- and 14-pin PICmicro Flash devices will also be supported by the PICkit 1 tool. It's available now for $36.