PIC Pyro 16

Minor Experiments in Electronics
by Dave


Today's Experiment

PIC Pyro 16

PIC Pyro 16

A while back, David Tait and Michael Covington created the TOPIC programmer and the NOPPP hardware, respectively. NOPPP style hardware is a great do-it-yourself way to build your own programmer and begin programming your own 16F84A. NOPPP even came with DOS-based software that took your HEX file and stuffed it into the 16F84A via the NOPPP hardware.

The 16F84A is a great PIC to start on, but after a while, you begin to want more. The PIC List indicates that the "Most Bang For Your Buck" is the PIC16F877. So it is, so far as the Mid-Range Microchip PICs go. The term "Most Bang For Your Buck" must be qualified, though: there are a lot of PICs to choose from, but if they are not easily handled by experimenters then it doesn't really qualify for our purposes. Therefore, the honor of "Most Bang For Your Buck" falls to the 18F452. Why? It's a 40-pin DIP, it has a lot of memory, it runs at 40MHz, etc etc.

At any rate, I rewrote Mr. Covington's software and adapted it to the PIC16F877A. I named it "PIC Pyro 16". It interfaces with NOPPP-style programmers. By the way, yes, there IS going to be a "PIC Pyro 18" that will program the 18F452 using NOPPP hardware. PIC Pyro 16 works the exact same way as the old software:

  1. Start the software using the following command line syntax:
    pp16.exe hexfile.hex

  2. When told to by the software, power up your NOPPP hardware.

  3. When told to by the software, insert your 16F877A into its socket on your NOPPP hardware.

  4. When told to by the software, remove your 16F877A from its socket from your NOPPP hardware.

  5. You're done!

Actually, I've tested this software with with the 16F84A the 16F877A. It really should work with any 16-series serially programmable PIC as long as your HEX file is destined for the particular core. That is to say you cant take a HEX file destined for a 16F877A and try to stuff it into a 16F84A. It usually won't work.

Download PIC Pyro 16 here. This is a beta; it is in testing. It works for me; please let me know if it doesn't work for you. The NOPPP hardware can be unforgiving, especially of quick-turnaround read-back verify. By downloading this file, you agree to hold David H. Cothran harmless from any issue that arises from the use of the software. IT IS TEST SOFTWARE. Conceivably, the worst thing that could happen is your PIC chip might be ruined if the software stuffs it with the contents of a malformed HEX file, enabling the Code Protect bits, but who knows.

Don't hesitate to let me know of any enhancement ideas you may have or bugs you have found. I'll import your input into the upcoming PIC Pyro 18 software.

I have tested the whole works on a bunch of Experimenter's Breadboard. My test setup is shown in the image below. Pay no attention to the extraneous stuff, like the LCD display or the three I2C chips to the right of the 16F877A. The important stuff is to the left: the NOPPP hardware and the two PIC Chips.

Click on the image above to download a HUGE image.

A schematic of  how to hook a PIC16F877A to your NOPPP hardware is shown below. This file, originally by M. Covington and appended by me, is in the PIC Pyro 16 download, and is much more clear there.