Move to PIC Microcontrollers

I started, as with many others programming the Arduino. This post is more about moving away from Arduino towards PIC and the reasons for doing so. But don’t get me wrong, Arduino is a great platform and very powerful.

Introduction

Firstly PIC and Atmel are now the same company, Microchip, who have always develope the PIC chips and recently bought out Atmel. One of my decisions to switch was the thought about the future of Atmel and would Arduino maybe one day use PIC instead of AVR.

I am the type of programmer that likes to know as much as possible what is going on, I found myself very early on learning how to directly manipulate the registers with AVR on Arduino and trying as much as possible to move away from the libraries.

As a beginner the libraries are fantastic, you can download programs and easily upload them to your board and modify for your own needs, it is so much easier to program Arduino than PIC at this stage.

But I soon found myself wanting to make my own PCBs and taking the AVR chip off the Arduino board and then wanting to expand to the 40 pin chips (ATMega 644) and programming them via the SPI interface with the USBAsp.

PIC is similar to this with the PICKit.

Programming PIC vs Arduino

The programming environment for Arduino is easy, USB to your board, upload the sketch, done.
Alot of work is done via the Arduino platform that you don’t really need to worry about at an early stage.

With PIC you have to do everything, setup the oscillator registers, all the configuration bits. But this is what I like, more deeper control into the microcontroller.

But once you’ve done this a few times, it’s quite straight forward to look at the datasheet and set the registers, all the config bits are done in MPLAB X.

Why I move to PIC

The simple reason I moved to PIC is the greater choice of microcontroller available. You can use the parametric search and find the chip that’s perfect for your job. A 28 pin with 2 UARTS, the ATMEGA 328 only has one, same pin count.
And of course the greater feeling of control with the software and programming.

I feel personally PIC is a more professional platform.

PCBWay PCB Review

Many years ago when I first started with electronics, back in the mid to late ’90s I tried to build my own projects, struggled with stripboard and they never looked great. I tried the etch your own PCBs with the marker pen and Ferric Chloride. It was OK But never the best!

I gave up with electronics back then and it’s only in the last few years I have regained that passion I had when I was young.

Being able to have my own PCBs produced, from my design on the computer really has opened up a whole new world.
Thanks to PCBWay.


I am really impressed with the service and quality from PCBWay. This new set of boards arrived on the 27th July and were only ordered on the 22nd.

Choosing a different solder mask always takes slightly longer to produce which I understand, but this only took just over 4 days to be produced and shipped to the UK.

There are many different solder mask colours to choose from, I have yet to sample them all but at the moment I really like the blue finish.

 

The first thing I noticed was the very shiny and smooth finish, the board looks very professional.
When desiging boards on a computer screen it is really nice to see them actually produced and in your hand.

The whole process I found very easy, the website is easy to use, you can track the status of your order online every step of the way.

 

Everything fits perfectly, all holes are drilled exactly as designed.

If you can get your boards within 100x100mm you can get 10 PCBs for $5 at PCBWay. Costs of course increase when you want larger boards, or multi layer boards due to the extra manufacturing required. But even then you still get a very reasonably priced professional PCB.

 

Custom PCBs

A batch of new PCBs have arrived from PCBWay.

I have recently stared to use PCB Way for my PCBs, they are a very efficient service and have a very fast delivery time. The factory manufacture them in 24 hours or a little longer if the board is more complicated. Then it’s down to the couriers for the delivery time. I have had them within 7 days sometimes much faster.

Once you upload your gerber file they do an engineering check to make sure everything is OK for production, and you can monitor the progress every step of the way.

www.pcbway.com

There’s a variety of solder mask colours available from the standard green.

Please see my YouTube channel for more information