How to Make a PIC Programmer – PicKit 2 ‘clone’

Hi! This is a short Instructable on making a PIC programmer which acts as a PicKit 2. I made this because it is way cheaper than buying an original PicKit and because Microchip, the manufacturers of PIC microcontrollers and the PicKit programmer, provides schematics and software, making it really easy for us to design our own programmers, definitely an advantage of using PICs.

Tools Needed:

  • Soldering Iron and solder
  • Wire Snips
  • Needle Nose Pliers
  • PCB etching tools and materials – Can be replaced with a breadboard but will take up more space
  • Already working programmer (This is the downside, maybe you can borrow one)
  • PC (for programming the PIC that goes into the PicKit)

Materials Needed:

  • 2 x 100nF ceramic capacitor
  • 2 x 15pF ceramic capacitor
  • 2 x 47uF 16v electrolytic capacitor
  • 1 x 10uF 16v electrolytic capacitor
  • 2 x 1N4148 diode
  • 1 x PIC18F2550
  • 1 x 28 pin thin IC socket (for the PIC18F2550)
  • 1 x 680uH inductor, resistor-like package
  • 2 x 3mm LED (one green and one red)
  • 3 x BC548 transistor
  • 1 x BC557 transistor
  • 1 x 20MHz oscilator crystal
  • 3 x 33 ohm resistor
  • 1 x 100 ohm resistor
  • 2 x 330 ohm resistor
  • 1 x 1k resistor
  • 1 x 2k7 resistor
  • 2 x 4k7 resistor
  • 3 x 10k resistor
  • 1 x 100k resistor
  • 1 x 2-pin tactile switch (button)
  • 1 x pin strip (only 6 needed)

Step 1: Schematics and PCB Design

For the schematics, I based my design on the one provided by Felixls in his page:…

He also provided a PCB design, but I found that the traces were too thin to make at home, so I redesigned the PCB on Proteus.

Here are the files of the design and a pdf to print for making the PCB.


Step 2: Making the Board

If you want to learn how to make a PCB at home there are plenty of Instructables online where you can learn.

Once you have finished making the board you will need to solder the components, you can use these pictures to help.

Component list:

C1 100nf

C2 47uf 25v

C3 100nf

C4 47uf 25v

C5 10uf 50v

C8 15pf

C9 15pf

D1 1N4148

D2 1N4148

IC1 PIC18F2550

L1 680uH



Q1 BC548

Q2 20MHZ

Q3 BC548

Q4 BC548

Q5 BC557

R1 33

R2 33

R3 33

R4 4k7

R5 330

R6 1k

R7 330

R8 100k

R9 2k7

R10 4k7

R11 10k

R12 100

R13 10k

R14 10k

BTN tactile switch

SV3 6 pins

X3 USB B female

Step 3: Programming the Programmer

To program the PIC18F2550 to use in the programmer you will need a functioning PicKit. Once you get one or borrow one, you will need to install the PicKit 2 software: PicKit 2 v2.61

First open PicKit 2 and plug your functioning programmer. If it doesn’t say ‘PicKit connected’ in the message window, try clicking ‘Tools > Check communication’.

Then connect the PIC18F2550 to your functioning programmer using a breadboard and making the appropiate connections, like the image above shows.

If it isn’t detecting the PIC, showing ‘PIC Device Found’, then try clicking ‘Tools > Check communication’ a couple times. If it still doesn’t detect the PIC, check the connections.

To upload the program to the PIC go to ‘File > Import’, then ‘C:\Program Files (x86)\Microchip\PICkit 2 v2\PK2V023200.hex’ and click ‘Open’

Wait until it says ‘Hex file successfully imported’ and click ‘Write’ , the wait for it to say ‘Programming successful’

Step 4: Using the PicKit

First plug in our programmer and open PicKit 2. Wait for PicKit to detect the programmer, and if it doesn’t, click ‘Tools > Check Communication’.

Connect the PIC we want to program to our programmer. If you don’t know how you can search online for the pin distribution of the PIC and find the corresponding MCLR, VDD, VSS, PGD and PGC pins to connect to the programmer.

Wait for PicKit to detect the PIC showing ‘PIC Device Found’, if it doesn’t then try clicking ‘Tools > Check communication’ a couple times. If it still doesn’t detect the PIC, check the connections.

Open MPLAB, MPLAB X, or whichever IDE you are using and compile the program.

After compiling, go back to PicKit 2 and go to ‘File > Import Hex’. With MPLAB X you can find the hex file of your project in ‘Project_Directory > dist > default > production > Project_Name.production.hex’

Click ‘Write’ and wait for it to show ‘Programming Successful’

If you wish to modify your program you don’t need to import the hex file again, you should just compile it an click ‘Write’ in the PicKit software. Among the messages it displays it should read ‘Reloading hex file’ .

That’s it !

As a final step, you can design a simple rectangular case to 3d print just to protect the PicKit, you wouldn’t want it to break or short-circuit, I’ll leave it up to you.

Source: How to Make a PIC Programmer – PicKit 2 ‘clone’

About The Author

Muhammad Bilal

I am a highly skilled and motivated individual with a Master's degree in Computer Science. I have extensive experience in technical writing and a deep understanding of SEO practices.

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