PICkitPlus – A programming software that revitalizes the outdated PICkit2 and PICkit3
Microchip’s PICkit2 and PICkit3 are both In-Circuit Debugger/Programmers, designed for programming and debugging Microchip PIC microcontrollers (and occasionally EEPROMs).
The PICkit2 programmer was released back in 2005, and allowed the user to program and debug most of the 8 and 16 bit PIC microcontrollers and dsPIC controllers as well. Its successor, the PICkit3 programmer, was released some years later.
In 2009 and 2012, Microchip stopped providing support for the PICkit 2 and PICkit3 software , respectively. They released the source code for the Windows GUI software, making it possible for users to update and maintain it themselves. This resulted in the launch of the PICkitPlus software in 2018 by the PICkitPlus team.
The PICkitPlus software is a total replacement for the original PICkit 2 and PICkit 3 software, designed to facilitate programming of any 8-bit PIC microcontroller using a supported programmer (either genuine or clone). In contrast to the original PICkit software, which doesn’t provide support for the newer 8-bit microcontrollers, PICkitPlus includes support for old chips and new chips alike.
The PICkitPlus software comes in 3 main variants for the PICkit™ 2 and PICkit™ 3 applications called PICkit 2Plus, PICkit 3Plus, and PICkitCommandLine.
- PICkit 3Plus Graphical user interface application. A specific solution for the PICkit™ 3 In-Circuit Debugger/Programmer and clones
- PICkit 2Plus Graphical user interface application. A specific solution for the PICkit™ 2 In-Circuit Debugger/Programmer and clone
- PICkit Command line user interface application.
The PICkitPlus command line application supports both the PICkit2 and PICkit3 programmers and even potentially clones as well. It can run alone, but is mainly intended for use with Integrated Development Environments such as Great Cow BASIC. The PICkitPlus command line software does not support EEPROM chips; although the PICkitPlus GUI software does.
A common problem with using the old PICkit2 and PICkit3 software is their inability to work with very old or very new Microchip microcontrollers; but the PICkitPlus software comes with new programming protocols that support the various classes of Microchip’s 8-bit PIC microcontrollers. Not only does it support the currently released chips, but it also has an updated microcontroller database which helps to keep the software current with future microcontroller products. So if you are concerned about future compatibility, then PICkitPlus will be your best bet.
The old Microchip software has not been updated for many years, suffers from unreliability and lack of support. So, things failed to work, you were pretty much on your own. However, PICkitPlus comes with improved reliability and a better user interface; and since support is readily available you can always be sure to get help with any issues that might arise.
PICkitPlus Key features:
- Standalone programming – no internet connection required
- Supporting up to 932+ type of popular Flash PIC MCU, includes PIC10F, PIC12F, PIC16F, PIC18F, PIC24, PIC32, dsPIC30 and dsPIC33 family
- Manages Microchip HEF and SAF memory
- Programming CAN I/O Expander & KEELOQ series: MCP2502X/5X & HCSxx
- Read and write operation for serial EEPROM 11LCxx, 24LCxx, 25LCxx and 93LCxx
- Supported operating systems (32bit/64bit): Windows XP ,Windows Vista, Windows 7, Windows 8, Windows 10
- New programming protocol support for new classes of 8-bit Microchip PIC microcontrollers
- Updated and managed database for 8-bit Microchip PIC microcontroller
- Improved user interface, help, guidance and direct access to the 8-bit Microchip PIC microcontroller database.
- USB (Full speed 12 Mbits/s interface to host PC)
- Supports low voltage (2.0v to 5.0v range) where supported by the programmer
- Read/write program and data memory of microcontroller
- Erase of program memory space with verification
- Supports Low Voltage Programming (LVP) and High Voltage Programming (HVP).
- Supports VDD-First and VPP-First programming modes.
PICkitPlus other features:
- Safe Usage Enhancements:
- Supports disabling part auto-detection to ensure circuits are not incorrectly powered-up
- Supports selection of recently used microcontrollers
- Supports Windows user profiles for ini files
- Same microcontroller database across all three software components
- Does not require any change to PICkit Operating system
- Command Line Software:
- All new solution to enable handling of capabilities
- New command line structure and options
- Same microcontroller database as GUI software
- Automatic loading of PICKit Operating System
- Improved voltage control during programming and post programming with appropriate safety checks
- Supports IDEs with hold-on-exit
- Write/Read and Verify options
- Control power on and off independent of programming state
- OSCCAL support
- Meaningful exit error levels for IDE and batch file integration
- Log files for IDE integration
- HEF & SAF Operation:
- Managing Microchip HEF (High Endurance Flash Memory) and SAF (Storage Area Flash) memory could not be easier with PICkitPlus
- Providing read, write, erase, verify, save and import with ease
- Obviates the need for cutting and slicing of hex files
- Automatically merge HEF or SAF into source program
- Bandgap Configuration:
- The Bandgap is an adjustable voltage level used for Brown-out Detect (BOD)/low voltage
- BOD and Bandgap can be enabled to track down short power spikes and resolve Brown-out situation
- Simple setup by clicking the [BandGap] text
- Fixing default bandgap error on PICkitPlus software when BOD is enabled
- Target chips: PIC12F629, PIC12F675, PIC16F630 and PIC16F676
- User Interface:
- Simplification of user interface to improve stability and crashes
- Check for latest version of the microcontroller database
- Part type, revision and family displayed
- Tooltips show memory size, eeprom size, HEF/SAF size and UserID location and type
- Fast access to microcontroller databases listing
- Improved handling of errors when using Auto Import Hex option
- Improved color coding of events and language
- Improved handling of sound events (they now work…)
- Installer shows version of software and microcontroller database
- Supports from Windows XP all the way to Windows 10
- Contains help files, list of supported microcontrollers and user guides
- Integration guides for popular IDEs
PICkitPlus provides support for over 932 types of popular Flash PIC MCU including the likes of PIC10F, PIC12F, PIC16F, PIC18F, PIC24, PIC32, dsPIC30, and dsPIC33 family. Managing of the Microchip HEF and SAF memory just become easier with support for reading, write, erase, verify, save and imports. Read and write operation for serial EEPROM 11LCxx, 24LCxx, 25LCxx and 93LCxx is available. It can also easily integrate with popular IDEs. Programming of CAN I/O Expander & KEELOQ series: MCP2502X/5X &HCSxx are also supported.
PICkitPlus supports Low-Voltage (2v to 6v) Programming (LVP), and High-Voltage (9v to 12v) Programming (HVP). Brown-out Detect and Bandgap can be enabled to track down short power spikes and resolve Brown-out situation.
Currently, OS support is limited to Windows 10, Windows 8.1, Windows 8.0, Windows 7 and Windows XP; although Anobium plans to add support for Linux and MacOS in due course.
More information about the features of the PICkitPlus is available www.pickitplus.co.uk, and the PICkitPlus software is also available for purchase from Piccircuit for $12 or direct from www.pickitplus.co.uk for the complete package.