How to program a PIC Microcontroller without a programmer?

We regularly come across enthusiasts who are migrating from devices like 8051 based microcontrollers such as P89V51RD2 or Arduino platform to PIC microcontrollers. These devices either came with a factory programmed bootloader (in case of NXP’s P89V51RD2) or came pre-programmed (in the Atmega’s for the Arduino). A difficulty faced or rather an unheard thing to get started with PIC microcontrollers is that they need an external programmer like PICKit 3 or ICD 3 to program (burn) their HEX files into the devices. That means an additional cost to getting started.

To solve the misery of these enthusiast we have come up with two options:

1. A low cost external programmer – PICkit Lite-I 

2. Pre-loaded Bootloader with the PIC Microcontroller

So you either opt for a low-cost programmer such as PICkit Lite-I (check if your device is compatible) or you can opt for having an on-chip bootloader for your PIC microcontroller with luxury of programming it with your serial port.

Here we specifically target the freely available ds30 bootloader for PIC microcontroller and show you how to program your device without the need of an external programmer. The video below demonstrates programming (burning) of HEX file into a PIC microcontroller using the ds30 Loader Utility.

For more information on ds30 Bootloader click here.

FYI: We have successfully implemented the ds30 bootloader for PIC18f4520 microcontroller. The bootloader takes approximately 418 Bytes of the available 32kBytes of Flash.  Our PIC KICK and EASY PIC development boards ships with the pre-loaded bootloader eliminating the need of an external programmer.

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