Tuesday, December 15, 2009

first time with MPLAB and PIC

Edward, Greg, and I have been Waving about a Fantasy Throttleable Hybrid rocket. The electronics for the rocket are interesting to me, and the machining of the rocket parts is beyond my abilities, so I'm setting up an environment to work on the controller for the rocket. I'm new to programming the PIC but am interested since it is used in so many projects.

It seems common for hobbyists to develop in ASM for the PIC but I chose C. To get some hand-holding, I went through Tutorial 4 at pic18f.com and it was exactly what I needed from an introduction. Here are a few bits that I had to bump into myself.

PICkit2 Kinda Tricky with VirtualBox

I use a MacBook as my primary machine and do most things related to rocketry within a WinXP VM using VirtualBox. I figured I would simply plug in the PICkit2 (it is USB), assign it to my VM, and go on with the Tutorial. When I plugged in the PICkit2, it appeared in the USB list in my VM but it was Unavailable. I checked the VirtualBox forums and there were some special chicken dances that people claim work but the following steps appear to be reliable for me.

  1. Set up USB Filter for PICkit2 and put at top of VM config.

  2. Boot VM

  3. Plug in PICkit2 at Windows log-in screen.

Here are some pictures:

MPLAB Library Path needs setting

It is mentioned in the tutorial that the Library Search Path will probably need to be set but I assumed that since I went with all defaults on my install that it would be already set. It wasn't - I got a build error telling me that c018i.o was not found. I just went in to Build Options..., clicked on Directories tab, changed the drop-down to Library Search Path, and set the value to C:\MCC18\lib.

Run App using PICkit2 / USB Power

Just like the Tutorial said, you can say "Programmer -> Release from Reset" to run the app that is in Flash on the PIC. You can do "Programmer -> Set Vdd Off" to turn the PIC off. Neato - easy peasy.

Run App using External Power

Once the PIC is programmed, you can remove the PICkit2 and plug in a 5V power supply. Positive goes to pin 20 on the 18F2455 that I'm using and Ground goes to pins 8 and 19. As soon as power is turned on, the app in Flash runs.

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