These posts have been fairly brief and I have skimmed over allot of the greater issues that can plague a hobbyist. These ‘getting started’ issues can be as fundamental as which route to pursue ?
With regards to the question about the AVR vs PIC ? Well that was a judgement call and it’s one that I am glad that we have stuck with. The arguments for and against each vendor can be fairly persuasive. But at this point, since I can see further down the road owing to the distance traveled I am confident that sticking with the PIC has been the right decision.
My reasons for staying with PIC at the time was the almost overwhelming support on almost all levels from the simplest 8 PIN application right the way through to the 80 PIN devices. There is also a wide range of 3rd party organizations that cater to PICs along with the vast array for community sites. Microchip has also come to the table with an extensive family that extends now to the PIC32 80 MIPS devices. So a judgement call well pursued.
Bringing all the elements together is now simpler to co-ordinate. But I have given them to you in a reverse order. Ideally getting an LED flashing on a PIC first requires a compiler. You need some software to produce a HEX file. I would recommend that the compiler chosen must be well supported. The compilers from Mikroelektronika is where I have settled and I think it’s a good choice.
I would recommend a development PCB from ZarDynamix as it is an extensible and highly flexible product. Equipped with a soldering iron, and a few additional components you can transform it into the greatest embedded application in your life time – don’t be shy, try it!
Download your code onto the ProtoDev PCB using a PICKIT 2 / PICKIT 3 an viola your project is working even if it’s a single LED winking back at you.
Case in point: ZarDynamix caters to the hobbyist and professional developer and we have over time seen a wide array of successful products come of age using our PCBs. These projects include simple applications using them to produce and alarm system to environmental monitoring and control and the list goes on.