PICKIT 3: Keeping up with the new devices

If you have been using the PICKIT programmers since they came out, you will remember the stand alone programming software. Personally, I prefer it as I don’t really use MPLAB. I am a MIKROE compiler user.

Up until now, the PICKIT 2 / 3 has been an excellent bench top tool and I have used them extensively in projects. I have been so dependent on the PICKIT 3 that I even invested in a spare for redundancy’s sake.

PICKIT 3 programmer

Microchip’s new devices

I recently reached a cross roads where my PICKIT 3 stand alone programmer software no longer supported the device in the development board. Now I must make a distinction here.

  • The PICKIT 3 hardware can be reprogrammed with new firmware to support new devices
  • The PICKIT 3 Software needs to be updated, . . .

The error I got below was when I had a PIC16F1718 installed on my dev board. When I replaced it with a PIC16F1518, the device us found and can be programmed.


On searching the Microchip Web Site, I have not come across an update. What I have figured out is that if you use MPLAB X, and you add the new device to your project it loads the required firmware onto the PICKIT 3 and you are able to load your code from MPLAB.


One aspect I must apologize for is that I can’t recall how I invoked the uploading of the new firmware. It happened while I was trying to get it to work and now I can’t duplicate what I did.

Addendum to above: It turns out that MPLAB downloads the correct firmware automatically.

To do the following you need:

  • MPLAB X v3 installed
  • The 8 BIT Pic compiler (optional)
  • An open project
  • No code written, you are just testing the device reading is working

Your target board must be powered and you need an open project. Select the option to “Read Device Memory Main Project“. The window on the right will either give you an error message the programmer could not be started or the much preferred messaging present now.

MPLAB Working

MPLAB X is a free Microchip download.


As mentioned I normally use Mikroe, so I went ahead and purchased one of their PICPROG programmers which integrates seamlessly with the Mikroe IDE.

Tool Chains

The tool chain integrity is maintained and the main objective is achieved and that if you had code to DL onto a new device you can go ahead and do that.