What Tools Do I Need to Develop Microchip MCU Applications?

Last modified by Microchip on 2023/11/10 11:03

A Typical Development Setup

Most development setups consist of three main components:

  1. A computer running the MPLAB® X Integrated Development Environment
  2. A programmer/debugger
  3. A target board with the PIC® MCU of your choice, such as:

debugger set up

This setup enables you to develop code, program a device, and debug your code in-circuit. It provides you with the greatest amount of flexibility in terms of supported devices since the programmer/debugger tools support the entire range of Flash-based PIC microcontrollers and several demonstration boards support the entire PIC MCU families.

Starter Kits and Curiosity Boards

If you are on a budget or want to evaluate a particular device or device family for possible use in an application, Starter Kits and Curiosity Boards provide an economical and convenient means to get the job done. These tools effectively combine the programmer/debugger and the target device and board into a single unit. While some of them provide a means of expansion into a more full development toolchain, they are limited to the target device that comes on the board. However, the target device is usually the "superset" member of a device family, allowing code developed for it to be used on several other similar devices.

Which Programmer/Debugger Is Right For Me?

While the MPLAB PICkitTM 5 and MPLAB® ICD5  share a common base feature set, they don't all support every debug feature available. The PICkit 5 is the lowest cost member of the programmer/debugger family and supports the basic debugging functions that developers use most of the time. The ICD5 adds some intermediate debugging features to support more complex debugging tasks. The MPLAB ICE 4 is the flagship debugging tool, offering all the features of the other two tools while adding sophisticated trace and log functions as well as the ability to view variable values in real or near real-time.

debugger feature comparison chart