Notes on “Get Started with 8-Bit PIC MCUs using MCC”

It looks like Microchip loves long titles for their tutorials. After getting an overview of the 8-bit PICs in the previous tutorial Get Started with the PIC16F1 Enhanced MCU Architecture , I chose to follow up with this tutorial Get Started with 8-Bit PIC MCUs using MCC. It seemed to be a good starting point because MCC (MPLAB Code Configurator) is their tool to alleviate the pain of setting up a new project. The prospect of avoiding tedious work is good motivation to learn the tool.

I had expected a tutorial talking about the design intent of MCC, maybe an overview of its feature areas, or similar pointers to help the novice orient themselves as they tried to use the tool. A little theory behind the practice. This turned out not to be the case.

MCC Tutorial OutlineThe tutorial jumps straight into the practice with 12 simple PIC projects, each demonstrating a basic PIC task. Each project starts with how to set up hardware bits (LEDs, resistors, etc) on a project breadboard. Then it moves to the software side by walking the reader through using MCC to create all the boilerplate code setting up the project. After MCC took care of all the repetitious tasks, the reader has to add a few lines of task-specific code to finish things up.

I like to learn by doing, so this approach worked pretty well to help me gain introductory familiarity with MCC feature areas. For the tasks covered by these projects, I’m now confident I know enough to get going on my own. And this knowledge should help me hunt around MCC for the features not covered by the tutorial.

And there are a lot of those! The PIC is capable of more than these 12 things, and it’s not clear Microchip has provided similar tutorials elsewhere. For example, this tutorial covers serial communication with the PIC USART module. My goal is to communicate with a Raspberry Pi over I²C, which is a different module. So I’ll have to look elsewhere to find a guide to help me speak in I²C, the protocol used by many Raspberry Pi accessories.

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