WHAT IS A PIC MICROCONTROLLER? WHAT CAN IT DO?
PIC microcontrollers ( Programmable Interface Controllers), are electronic circuits that can be programmed to carry out a vast range of tasks. They can be programmed to be timers or to control a production line and much more. They are found in most electronic devices such as alarm systems, computer control systems, phones, in fact almost any electronic device. Many types of PIC microcontrollers exist, although the best are probably found in the GENIE range of programmable microcontrollers. These are programmed and simulated by Circuit Wizard software.
PIC Microcontrollers are relatively cheap and can be bought as pre-built circuits or as kits that can be assembled by the user
You will need a computer to run software, such as Circuit Wizard, allowing you to program a PIC microcontroller circuit. A fairly cheap, low specification computer should run the software with ease. The computer will need a serial port or a USB port. This is used to connect the computer to the microcontroller circuit.
Software such as, Genie Design Studio can be downloaded for free. It can be used to program microcontroller circuits. It allows the programmer to simulate the program, before downloading it to a PIC microcontroller IC (Integrated Circuit).
Simulating the program on screen, allows the programmer to correct faults and to change the program.
The software is quite easy to learn, as it is flow chart based. Each ‘box’ of a flow chart has a purpose and replaces numerous lines of text programming code. This means that a program can be written quite quickly, with fewer mistakes.
class=”style7″ class=”style6″ width=”50%”>A USB lead connects the computer to the programmable circuit, allowing the transfer of the program to the PIC microcontroller IC
When the program has been simulated and works, it is downloaded to the PIC microcontroller circuit. The USB lead can be disconnected and the microcontroller circuit can be used independently. The diagram below, shows a GENIE Project Board being programmed by Circuit Wizard software (recommended software for programming microcontroller circuits).
Circuit Wizard software has major advantages over free downloads. It is a ‘simple to use’ electronics software package. Basic up to complex circuits, can be built on screen and simulated. This means that circuits can be tested before they are manufactured.
Circuit Wizard also allows a range of GENIE Microcontroller circuits/project boards, to be ‘dragged’ on to the screen, from a menu. Inputs and outputs can be added using further menus. Then, the GENIE microcontroller circuit/project board can be programmed, using Circuit Wizard’s flow charting menu. It can be fully tested/simulated on screen and faults corrected or alterations made. This software is strongly recommended, when designing and manufacturing microcontroller programmable circuits.
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