PIC Programming using ICSP
This page shows you how to use ICSP for PIC
programming giving some ICSP connection diagrams.
Note Part of this page shows you how to use ICPROG which is a parallel
port/serial port based software that requires use of an older computer having
either a serial port or a parallel port - there are lots around. These days
those interfaces have been replaced with USB ports so you can not use ICPROG if
you only have USB interface ports.
For USB ports, buy a USB programmer such as pickit2 or pickit3 (programmable
using the Free MPLAB X software from Microchip - see screen shots on
programming a pre-bult hex file below).
Jump to ICSP Overview
Jump to ICSP Connections
Jump to MPLAB X
for programming a hex file.
Jump to ICPROG
programming a hex file.
(In Circuit Serial Programming) is the serial
interface used by the PIC micro to download a program into the PIC
micro's program memory.
Note: You can also program the internal
EEPROM as well.
You can learn more about ICSP here
MPLAB X : Programming a Hex
MPLAB X is a big program and it is sometimes difficult to see exactly how to
do the simplest task. One of those tasks is programming a simple hex file
without doing anything else!
The instructions below will guide you to effortlessly complete this
Download MPLAB X (Currently Version 2.2)
Creating a Prebuilt-Project in MPLAB X
Start MPLAB X…wait...wait...wait...
...Click Menu: File-->New Project...
...and select “Prebuilt (Hex, Loadable Image)
Choose your programmer, in this case PICKit3.
Click the Browse button and navigate to your hex file e.g.:
In this case program 1 in the PIC C Course.
Choose the Family: Mid-Range 8bit MCUs,
Choose the device PIC16F88
In the new pop-up window (not shown here), leave everything else at default
Click Finish, and a project will be created at directory:
Click Finish and the main project pane will be updated with the new project
Programming the Hex file
The above screen-shot shows the hex file that will be used.
To program in the new hex file you can hit the “green down
You can also program the file using the menu (in this case no build is
performed since it is pre-built):
Run-->Run Main Project
PIC ICSP connections
This section shows connection pins for PIC programming.
12F675 : ICSP PIC Programming connections:
16F88 : ICSP PIC Programming connections:
16F877A : ICSP PIC Programming connections:
Legacy information for ICPROG
to use ICPROG requires a parallel or serial port.
The rest of this page is left for reference for if you are using ICPROG and
it is also useful to see the ICSP connections, that remain the same whichever
programming method you use.
Note: The following
dicsussion on ICPROG is left here for reference. Most computers only have USB
port so ICPROG is not useful to you. Therefore you should use the standard
programming interface either Pickit2 or Pickit3 and use MPLABX as the
ICPROG for PICMicro
ICPROG is a free windows program that you can use for PIC Programming. It
interfaces using either the serial or parallel port on a PC, via programming
hardware, to the ICSP pins on the PIC micro.
You can download ICPROG here [opens a new
ICPROG uses the hex file generated either from an assembler such as MPASM or a
compiler such as MikroC.
When you first start ICPROG this is the screen you see for selecting the
hardware for the PIC programmer; I have selected AN589 programmer
- a parallel port
After this the main program screen is displayed. Don't be put off by all the
address program code area. The important controls are the Open button and the
buttons with ICs underneath.
To use it for PIC programming select the device from the menu Settings-->
Here I have chosen a PIC16F877A device.
The Device menu also shows a lot of other devices that you can use with
Note: The screen changes to accommodate the chip features (here EEPROM
oscillator, program 'Write enable' and chip configuration bits).
You can check to see if ICPROG is communicating with your hardware by using the
menu option Settings-->Hardware check. This lets you toggle the state of
individual ICSP signals and the VCC power.
Note you'll need an oscilloscope or multimeter to check the signal state.
Load Hex file
The next thing to do with the PIC software is programming the PIC by loading
up the hex file (unless you have a 12F675 that has an oscillator calibration
value that you will want to keep -in this case do a read first).
Note: You have to select the device manually it is not defined in the hex file.
Although ICPROG stores the current device in use between sessions you have to
select a new device manually when you start a new hardware project
Note: Fuses and oscillator settings are controlled from the hex file so all you
need to do is check that they match your settings in the compiler or
Hit the open button to load your hex file.
Note how the oscillator, write enable and fuses have changed (controlled from
the hex file):
PIC programming action is to erase the device by hitting the erase device
button. It sends a command to the PIC which erases the whole device including
protection bits (in newer devices). Old devices used to be un-usable after
you had set the protection bits!
So this command quickly erases the chip.
Note: You don't have to use the erase button as the program button will
overwrite the chip contents anyway. It is sometimes useful if you want to
convince yourself that the program is actually programmed into the device
program device button does just that it programs the contents loaded from the
hex file (in ICPROG memory) into the program memory of the PIC micro. If
there is any EEPROM in the chip then it programs this as well. Finally it
programs the configuration word.
verify device button reads back the entire contents of the chip ensuring that
it matches the hex file (loaded into ICPROG).
Note: Depending on settings in menu :
Settings--> Options--> Programming
verification may automatically happen at the end.
Once you get used to ICPROG and your hardware works reliably you may only want
to do a verify if something does not work otherwise it takes more time up.
device button reads back the entire contents of the chip into the currently
selected buffer (shown at the bottom of the ICPROG window). So you can save the
hex file or compare it to the contents of another buffer.
These are the only controls you need for successful PIC programming using
Note: The above discussion is left in for reference, use PicKit2 or PickKit3
and MPLABX for USB operation.
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