How to Program a PIC Microcontroller?

How to Program a PIC Microcontroller?

If you’ve ever wanted to know how to program a PIC microcontroller, then this blog post is for you! We’ll go over everything you need to know, from the basics of programming to more advanced concepts. By the end of this post, you’ll be able to write your own PIC programs and make them do just about anything you want. So let’s get started!

What Is a PIC Microcontroller?

A PIC microcontroller is a type of electronic device that is used to control the behavior of various electronic systems.

It is typically programmed with a computer language, such as C or Assembly. The PIC microcontroller contains an internal memory and often has additional external memory available for storage. This makes it ideal for controlling complex functions, such as motor speed and position, data acquisition, communication between components, and audio/video processing.

PIC microcontrollers are small and usually inexpensive compared to other types of processors. They can come in many sizes ranging from 8-bit processors all the way up to 32-bit devices. Some popular manufacturers include Microchip Technology (who invented the PIC) and Atmel Corporation (who produces the popular AVR line of microcontrollers). [1]

What Is a PIC Microcontroller?

PIC Microcontroller Programming Procedure

Build Hardware

The first step in programming a PIC microcontroller is to build the hardware. All of the necessary parts, such as resistors and capacitors, need to be correctly connected to the microcontroller before any other steps can be taken. This will ensure that the program being written will actually work on the physical device.

Get Software

The next step is to get the appropriate software. This can be either a commercial software package or an open-source development environment, such as MPLAB. The software will provide an interface for writing code and debugging any mistakes that may occur during the programming process.

Create New Project

The third step is to create a new project. This will allow the user to store all of the code associated with the PIC microcontroller, as well as any other relevant information such as file locations and settings.

Build Parameters

The fourth step is to set up all of the parameters associated with the microcontroller. This may include setting up the clock speed, onboard memory size, and any other parameters that need to be adjusted before programming starts. [2]

Set Configuration Bits

The fifth step is to set the configuration bits. This will allow the programmer to configure certain internal aspects of the microcontroller such as its power-on reset state, brown-out reset level, and watchdog timer settings.

Configure Oscillator

The sixth step is to configure the oscillator. This will determine the frequency at which the microcontroller will be running and should be set according to the user’s needs.

Wait Milli-Second Function

The seventh step is to program the wait milli-second function. This will allow the microcontroller to sleep for a set amount of time before continuing with its next instruction.

Blink an LED

The eighth step is to program the microcontroller to blink an LED. This will be used as a simple test to make sure that the programming process was successful.

Reading an Analog Value

The ninth step is to read an analog value. This could be used to measure temperature, light levels, or any other variable that can be converted into a digital signal.

PIC Microcontroller Programming Procedure

Read a Digital Value

The tenth step is to read a digital value. This could be used to detect the state of an input pin or act as an interrupt signal for the microcontroller. [3]

Can You Use Python in a PIC Microcontroller?

The answer is yes; it is possible to use Python in a PIC microcontroller. However, due to the inherent limitations of the microcontroller, implementing a fully-fledged Python interpreter can be challenging. To accomplish this, you would need to create an operating system (OS) specifically designed for running Python code on your microcontroller. This OS would have to provide all the necessary features and functions needed by the language, such as memory management, input/output support, threading support and so on.

With that being said, there are many open source projects available that aim to make this possible. For instance, MicroPython attempts to offer a version of Python 3 that runs on small devices with limited resources. Additionally, CircuitPython provides an interpreter written specifically for Adafruit’s PIC microcontrollers.

Using a suitable Python interpreter, you can program your microcontroller with the same language that many modern software applications are built with. This could open up new possibilities in terms of what kind of projects you can build with a PIC microcontroller – from complex robotics to home automation and more. In addition, it allows for more rapid development time due to the large amount of libraries and frameworks available for Python.

Ultimately, using Python on your PIC microcontroller comes down to whether or not you have the necessary resources (time, money, skill) to make it happen. If so, then this could be an interesting way to expand upon what your device is capable of doing.

Can You Use Python in a PIC Microcontroller?

Can PIC be Programmed with Arduino?

The answer is yes, it is possible to program PIC microcontrollers using Arduino IDE. To do this, you’ll need an Arduino board that has an ATmega chip and a compatible PIC programmer such as the ICD2. The process for setting up the programming environment includes downloading and installing the required MPLAB software from Microchip and setting up the ICD2 driver in MPLAB.

Once that’s done, you can connect your PIC programmer to your Arduino board and start writing code for the PIC in the Arduino IDE. You can also use other coding platforms such as Python or C++ to write code for your PIC microcontroller when connected to an Arduino board. It should be noted that not all chips are supported, so you’ll need to do some research and make sure the chip is compatible with the programming environment.

Once you’ve written your code, it needs to be compiled and uploaded to the PIC microcontroller. To do this, simply select the Program Device option in MPLAB and follow the wizards instructions to upload your program. With everything set up, you can now use your Arduino board for all kinds of projects involving PICs, from robotics to home automation.

It’s important to note that programming PICs with an Arduino board requires a bit of knowledge about both platforms since they are different architectures and have their own syntaxes. However, once you understand how each platform works together, writing simple programs or complex ones is relatively straightforward. Plus, Arduino makes it easy to add custom libraries that extend the functionality of your program.

Overall, programming a PIC microcontroller with an Arduino board is possible and can be quite rewarding when you see your project come together. With the right setup and knowledge of both platforms, you can create all kinds of projects with PICs at the heart of them using the Arduino environment.

Which Microcontroller is Easiest to Learn?

When it comes to learning how to program a microcontroller, there are several different types to choose from. For those new to the world of microcontrollers and programming, PIC microcontrollers are often considered one of the easiest ones to learn due to their simple architecture and low cost.

The PIC microcontroller family provides users with an array of devices that offer various features ranging from 8-bit to 32-bit processors and memory sizes from 256 bytes up to 128K. They have an extensive collection of tools, libraries, examples and projects available online making them easy for hobbyists or students to start working with right away.

Which Microcontroller is Easiest to Learn?

Additionally, they require no external components or additional hardware for basic operations which makes them suitable for beginners who want a ‘plug and play’ solution.

PIC microcontrollers are also very reliable and robust, making them the go-to choice for many projects such as robotics, home automation and more.

Overall, the combination of cost-effectiveness, ease of use and wide range of features makes PIC microcontrollers one of the best ways to learn how to program a microcontroller. With some basic knowledge and guidance you can be up and running in no time! [4]

Types of Microcontrollers

Microcontrollers are divided into two main categories: 8-bit and 32-bit microcontrollers. 8-bit microcontrollers are typically used in embedded systems and consist of a program memory, RAM, I/O ports, and several other peripheral devices such as timers, counters, UARTs, SPI buses etc. They are generally programmed in assembly language or C/C++ language.

On the other hand 32-bit microcontrollers come with more advanced features than 8-bit controllers such as better speed and performance, more memory capacity (flash memory), larger instruction set and on-chip debugging capabilities. These controllers are generally programmed using high level languages like C or C++.

When it comes to programming PIC microcontrollers, the most popular language used in PIC Assembly. This language allows you to directly program the hardware registers and therefore you have more control over the system. Another option for programming microcontrollers like PICs is using a high-level language such as C or C++. This approach makes it easier to develop complex applications and also reduces development time. [5]

Types of Microcontrollers


How do we program the PIC microcontrollers?

The PIC microcontrollers are programmed with a combination of assembly and C language. The programming process begins by connecting the programming hardware (a pickit 3 programmer) to the target circuit, where the microcontroller is located. The programmer is then connected to a PC via USB, after which an integrated development environment (IDE) can be used to create the program code. This code can then be compiled and downloaded onto the controller through the programming hardware.

What types of coding languages are used?

Most of the popular PIC microcontrollers support both assembly and C language for programming. It is important to note that some controllers may only support one or the other, so it is important to check which type of coding language your device supports.

What is the programming process?

The first step in programming a PIC microcontroller is to connect the programming hardware (a pickit 3 programmer) to the target circuit, where the microcontroller is located. The programmer is then connected to a PC via USB, after which an integrated development environment (IDE) can be used to create the program code. This code can then be compiled and downloaded onto the controller through the programming hardware.

Are there any software tools available for programming?

Yes! There are a variety of software programs that have been created specifically for programming PIC microcontrollers. These include PicBasic Pro and Microchip MPLAB X IDE, both of which provide easy-to-use graphical user interfaces (GUIs) for programming and debugging. Additionally, some vendors offer their own software tools for programming PICs, such as Microchip XC8 compiler.

Are there any tips or tricks to help make the process easier?

Yes! If you are new to microcontroller programming, it is helpful to start with a simpler language like assembly before moving onto C language. Additionally, if you are using an IDE (integrated development environment), familiarizing yourself with the various features can greatly simplify the programming process. Finally, having a good understanding of both hardware and software fundamentals can make debugging issues much easier.

Where can I program a PIC microcontroller?

The answer to this question depends on the type of PIC microcontroller you’re using and your resources. If you are using a modern PIC microcontroller, it is likely that you will need an external development board or programmer to write code and program the chip. There are many options available ranging from full-featured boards like Arduino to simple DIY projects. Some PIC chips can be programmed directly with a serial cable or even over USB, although these techniques require additional hardware and knowledge of how to do so. Additionally, there are kits available which contain hardware and software for programming PICs without any additional components. If you don’t have access to specialized hardware, there is still another option: you can use online compilers and simulators to write code for PIC microcontrollers. This way, you don’t need any additional hardware or software as the compiler can be used from any web browser. Once your program is compiled and tested, it can then be downloaded to a physical board for execution on the microcontroller itself. No matter which choice you make, programming a PIC microcontroller is an exciting and rewarding experience!

How do you put a code on a PIC microcontroller?

To put a code on a PIC microcontroller, you will need to write the code in a supported language such as C or Assembly. Once the code is written, it can be compiled and burned onto a PIC chip using special programming software. Several different types of programmers are available for this purpose; they use either serial or USB connections to connect the programmer with the PIC chip. Once connected, you can then upload your code onto the PIC microcontroller.

Some devices also offer debugging features which can help troubleshoot problems with your code before burning it onto the device itself.

Finally, once your code is successfully uploaded to the microcontroller you can test its functionality by connecting it to other hardware components and running it through various tests.

Can we use C++ in a microcontroller?

Yes, you can use C++ in a microcontroller. The first step is to compile the code into an object file that is compatible with the microcontroller’s architecture. This can be done using a compiler such as GCC which supports many architectures including those used by PIC microcontrollers. Once compiled, the object file can then be uploaded to the device and tested for functionality on a development board or similar hardware setup. Keep in mind however, that not all features of modern C++ compilers are supported by microcontrollers and may require additional tweaks to get working correctly.

Is Python good for microcontrollers?

Yes, Python is a popular language that can be used on microcontrollers. To use Python in this context you will need to install the PyMite interpreter onto the device which allows you to write and execute Python code. This interpreter has been designed to work with 8-bit and 16-bit PIC microcontrollers. As they are memory constrained devices, it is important to keep your code as efficient as possible when writing for these platforms. Additionally, not all features of modern Python are supported by PyMite so take note of any unsupported functionality before attempting to develop for these devices.

Can a microcontroller access the internet?

Yes, some microcontrollers have built-in network capabilities allowing them to connect to the internet. To enable networking, you will need to install a network stack onto the device which can be done using either wired or wireless connections. Once connected, the microcontroller can access services such as HTTP and FTP over the internet allowing it to interact with web applications and other online resources. Additionally, some devices offer additional protocols such as SSL/TLS encryption which provide an extra layer of security when sending sensitive data over the internet. Finally, keep in mind that not all microcontrollers are capable of connecting to the internet so make sure to check for compatibility before attempting any development. Additionally, many networks require authentication for access so make sure that your system is properly configured with these credentials before attempting any connections.

Useful Video: Your first microcontroller project!


Programming a PIC microcontroller is an important skill for any aspiring electronics enthusiast. It can be a time-consuming and challenging process, but with the right tools, knowledge and determination you can program your own device in no time! By understanding the different programming languages available for use on these devices, you will have a better overall experience. Furthermore, having an up-to-date manual or reference guide to consult when troubleshooting can save hours of frustration. With practice and perseverance you can master this skill quickly and be ready to tackle even more complex projects!

Good luck!