Microchip have scored a winner over Atmel AVR by including all the information required to program a PIC microcontroller in one Hex file. This includes code, EEPROM data, User bytes (User ID) and most importantly, configuration words.
This makes it much easier to transfer the project from development to production or between engineers, as all the information needed is in one file. Atmel, now they have been taken over by Microchip, have belatedly added an ELF production file format that can do the same thing. See this post for details – Producing AVR and ATxmega ELF production files So, what is this PIC file format?
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PIC microcontrollers are manufactured by Microchip
They cover a huge range of devices, from tiny 8-bit microcontrollers to 32-bit advanced PIC32 devices. All PIC microcontrollers use Harvard architecture, which means that they have separate buses for data and instructions. If a device is called an 8-bit microcontroller, this means that its data bus is 8-bit, a 16-bit device has a 16-bit data bus and, guess what, a 32-bit microcontroller has an 32-bit data bus.
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The question we are often asked is should I start with C or assembly language to program my AVR microcontroller? Well, there are pros and cons to both approaches.
C has many advantages, including much faster code writing and increased portability. It is also much easier to understand and modify the code later. By using library files, code can be reused easily or pre-written functions can just be added by including a library.
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AVR microcontrollers are available from Atmel directly, from any of their distributors or here on the Kanda site. The range covers everything from 1KB 8-pin devices to 100-pin 256KB microcontrollers. Available package types include DIP, SOIC, QFN and TQFP. They feature all the usual peripherals including UART, SPI and Two Wire Interfaces, plus ADC, analog comparators and PWM for analog work and some have more advanced features like CAN and USB.
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