Proton BASIC Compiler - Choosing a Programmer

  • Pic® Basic

  • Choosing a Programmer

    A number of hardware programmers are available and some may be constructed by anyone reasonably competent with a soldering iron. The circuits for home construction usually access the parallel port on a computer.

    A common programmer from the early days is the P16Pro40, a kit based on the well known circuit by Bojan Dobaj. In association with the Winpic program it will still successfully program a wide range of chips in the 16F and the 18F series. Attach:P16Pro40.pdf

    Picall has parallel port programmers as kits and would be worth a look if you wish to build an inexpensive kit. The PicallW software works on a range of PICs and there is a reseller in the UK.

    A common problem with Windows and parallel port programmers is that Windows will endeavour to prevent the programmer accessing the parallel port causing the programming to fail for the first few tries. This can be overcome by using a script file called XP_stop_polling.reg on the site. The script makes a change to the registry and prevents Windows polling the port.

    Many modern computers don’t have parallel or serial ports so if you are just starting out it would probably be wiser to buy a USB based programmer rather than one that needs a parallel or serial port on your computer.
    Some of the popular USB programmers are:
    PikKit2 from Microchip. This is a well regarded, inexpensive programmer. Reports on the Proton Forum suggest that this may your best choice unless you need to program the newer chips such as the enhanced 14bit chips (If you do, then the PICkit3 is supported by MicroChip® to work well for all chips). They are retailed by various companies. Here is the Digikey site:

    ICD2, from Microchip, probably the best pic programmer there is, program any and all pics and comes with a lifetime guarantee. See the Microchip Direct site.

    GTP-USB from the writer of Winpic800 at

    Melabs U2 programmer and EPIC Plus Pic Microprogrammer from Melabs

    USBprog from Embedinc at

    Choice of PIC®

    If you are not familiar with the system of naming PICs, the “F” in the name represents Flash memory which may be programmed, erased and reprogrammed up to a 100,000 times. For industrial uses, such as use in a washing machine, factories will use the “C” series (CMOS burn once memory) but beginners should always buy the “F” series so that they can reprogram the code in case of mistakes. The Lite version of Proton supports just three flash PICs, the 12F675, 16F628A and the 16F877. Beginners should avoid the 12C508 as it has once only programming and is called in general an OTP (One Time Programmable).