Much to learn for newbies

Started by martin de lange June 28, 2003
Hi All
I have been designing embedded industrial controller for the last 16 years using Microchip's microcontrollers. In the last couple of years all of my fantasies about my work have been answered by Microchip with their huge expansion.  Most of our current projects include 18f series chips and although slightly dearer I would advise anyone even a beginner to start with these.
One of our sources of information has always been Elektor and especially EPE. We get the EPE online in PDF form (also available in print) for $10.95 a year. There are huge amounts of pic info in this magazine and they even have a "learn the pic" series at the moment that can be downloaded from their site at
I included two LCD pdf documents that was downloaded from EPE that is hugely superior to LCD  spec docs. It also includes pic examples.
Probably the best way to learn pic code is to try and decipher complete code projects and modifying them. When it works your esteem goes through the roof. Although starting from scratch and adding components one for one to your project does work we prefer to induct our new programmers at the lab by giving them a well written intermediate working firmware and hardware. This way the learning curve is steep but newbies learn to write good code. Apart from that starting with a working project one has to go one step back if it ain't working anymore after a mod. When you're looking for a proto board and you're looking for dirt cheap will make the board end in file 13 out of frustration. A working project when starting leads to a life long addiction and pleasure with these little creatures. I mostly find that example code from the Microchip site is not very practical and are normally written too theoretical. They never write a device driver robust and use it in a practical application. There are some exceptions like the Engineers assistant that we built and use it every day in the lab.
Although we mostly use ICE tools to develop we have several ICD2 to complement when testing CAN operations. If you can at all get an ICD as it caters for all 18f series and DSpic soon to be released. Believe it or not but assembler is a preferred amongst all our developers. Although we use C18 for must have fast protos there is nothing as robust as good ole A.

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