Difference between PICSTART Plus and other programmers

Started by Jason Hsu April 21, 2004
I noticed that for most microcontrollers, there are a number of
different programmers out there that one can purchase.

What should you look for in a programmer? What (other than price)
distinguishes one from another? I'd like to hear from any of you who
have experience using multiple different programmers.

Jason Hsu, AG4DG
http://www.jasonhsu.com/ee.html
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/eeham/
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gmu-ece-control/
http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/resume_hyperinflation_fighters/



At 12:47 PM 4/21/2004, Jason Hsu wrote:
>I noticed that for most microcontrollers, there are a number of
>different programmers out there that one can purchase.
>
>What should you look for in a programmer? What (other than price)
>distinguishes one from another? I'd like to hear from any of you who
>have experience using multiple different programmers.

We've got 3- PicStart Plus programmers here as well as a K128 from
<www.kitsrus.com> and Olin Lathrop's programmer <www.embedinc.com> .

The programmer from kitsrus is just excellent. It is faster than the PS+
and can automatically reload the hex file when it changes - makes it nice
for debugging code. Its limitation is that it is good for only the flash
parts. However, its siblings can program pretty much any of the 12 & 14
bit core parts. I don't know which of the 18F parts are supported - I
suspect most of them but you would have to check the website to find out
for sure.

The author of K128 and its siblings is our own Tony Nixon - he is *very*
responsive to any issues that you might have.

The PS+ programmers we have get used all the time. While they are not the
quickest programmers around, they are an officially supported programmer
and, so far, have been able to be updated to handle all new PICs that
Microchip creates. They are the programmers we for production even though
they are not officially rated for that use. Number of chips programmed by
them is multiple tens of thousands and I am not aware of any failures - ever.

Olin's programmer seems OK - it is fairly speedy but can't program any of
the 12 bit core parts yet. It is, however, a true production programmer
capable of verifying at the upper and lower Vdd limits. I haven't used it
as much as I wanted because of the lack of 12 bit support.

The other programmer I intend to check out is Wouter's "WIsp". But I
haven't used it yet and can't offer an opinion.

For what its worth, the fellow using the K128 won't ever consider going
back to the PS+. His projects use only flash parts and the K128 suits him
just fine - its easier and faster to use than the PS+.

Finally, we've also got a couple of so-called universal programmers from
Xeltek - the SuperPro II and SuperPro 580U. While they work just fine,
they do not get support for new chips as quickly as the others that I've
mentioned above. In fact, the SuperPro II has not had any updates for
several years - it is considered obsolete by the manufacturer. They also
cost 2 or 3 times what the PS+ costs - that means they cost 10 times what
the 3rd party programmers cost. Unless you have other types of chips to
program (eproms, pld or cpld, AVR, etc), they are probably overkill for
most users.

dwayne

--
Dwayne Reid <>
Trinity Electronics Systems Ltd Edmonton, AB, CANADA
(780) 489-3199 voice (780) 487-6397 fax

Celebrating 20 years of Engineering Innovation (1984 - 2004)
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I use both the PicStart + and ICD2 for programming. The Picstart
is very slow, the ICD2 is 4-5 X faster.
I use both for in-circuit programming. An adaptor cable was made for
both programmers to adapt them to a standard programming header
that we put on all our boards (PGC,PGD,MCLR,GND).

Whether for development or production, each chip gets programmed
1 time with a bootloader using either the PicStart or the ICD2. After
that, programming code using the bootloader throuth the serial port is
REALLY fast (usually 5-15 seconds). Of couse you can only use a
bootloader with the FLASH type chips.

I have had ZERO problems with Microchip programmers. Even though
they cost more, (and in the case of the PicStart +) are a little slower
than the others, I figure that the time and hassle I have saved has more
than made
up the difference.

An added bonus - If you get the ICD2, you not only get a fast programmer,
you get an in-circuit debugger as well.

Charles Linquist
----- Original Message -----
From: "Jason Hsu" <>
To: <>
Sent: Wednesday, April 21, 2004 11:47 AM
Subject: [piclist] Difference between PICSTART Plus and other programmers > I noticed that for most microcontrollers, there are a number of
> different programmers out there that one can purchase.
>
> What should you look for in a programmer? What (other than price)
> distinguishes one from another? I'd like to hear from any of you who
> have experience using multiple different programmers.
>
> Jason Hsu, AG4DG
> http://www.jasonhsu.com/ee.html
> http://groups.yahoo.com/group/eeham/
> http://groups.yahoo.com/group/gmu-ece-control/
> http://finance.groups.yahoo.com/group/resume_hyperinflation_fighters/ >


> What should you look for in a programmer? What (other than price)
> distinguishes one from another? I'd like to hear from any of you who
> have experience using multiple different programmers.

(I sell programmers, so don't take my word as holy truth)

just some things to keep in mind:
- range of PICs (or even wider) - but don't pay for chips you will never
use
- standalone operation possible?
- USB powered operation possible?
- ICSP and/or ex-circuit (ZIF)
- will the author keep up with new PICs?
- is the software / firmware free? source available?

Wouter van Ooijen

-- -------
Van Ooijen Technische Informatica: www.voti.nl
consultancy, development, PICmicro products



Hello,

>> What should you look for in a programmer? What (other than price)
>> distinguishes one from another? I'd like to hear from any of you who
>> have experience using multiple different programmers.

I'm using a PIKprog+ (Elnec, http://www.elnec.com/pikprogplus.php). I
decide to buy it not only because of domestic product, but also for my
personal experiences with previous Elnec products. I'm happy with it.

The programmer features both in-ZIF-socket and through-ISP-connector
programming modes, works fast and reliable from WIN-98SR1 (home) to
WIN-XP Prof. (office). Support really ALL PICmicro chips - including
obsolete one. The AlgOR (http://www.elnec.com/algor.php) service works
super, I've got a few times a beta version of SW within 24 hour.

One disadvantage is - only LPT port connection.

Yes, it's not free (less than 200 bucks), but your time to construct a
home-made programmer costs also something. And - I decide to not deal
with the programmer, but to deal with my projects. If something wrong
- just call to Elnec (not necessary to posting conferences for help,
because author of the programmer is currently in dead cockroach mode).

Don't forget one important thing. If the programmer is free (or the
price of components only), the author of the programmer have none
profit with this deal. It might (not must) results the support is
provided only during a author's hobby time.

Enjoy a day.

Best regards,
Janko.

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