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Low-cost programmer for dsPICs & PICs

This low-cost unit can program all dsPIC30F series microcontrollers in the DIP package, along with most PIC microcontrollers. It's easy to build and uses standard parts.

By Mauro Grassi

Click for larger image

PICs are now one of the most widely used microcontrollers. Like all micros, they greatly simplify many electronic designs, are reconfigurable in the field and allow projects that would be unwieldy or overly complex without them. In addition, extra features can often be added retrospectively to the firmware.

Although the PIC family of microcontrollers is well known (we have published many projects that employ PICs), Microchip also manufactures the lesser-known dsPIC30F series of microcontrollers.

These are microcontrollers with similar peripherals to those found on standard PICs but which have an enhanced instruction set augmented with DSP (digital signal processing) type operations. They are 16-bit microcontrollers and are surprisingly powerful, running at speeds in the tens of MIPs (millions of instructions per second).

Dedicated single-cycle DSP operations like MAC (multiply and accumulate) allow them to perform real-time signal processing using multiple 40-bit accumulators. They also incorporate hardware multiplication and division and have surprisingly fast ADC acquisition modes. These features make them well-suited to many digital signal processing applications.

One such device, the dsPIC30F4011, will feature in a new digital Musicolour lightshow project to be published soon in SILICON CHIP. This particular device can perform a real-time FFT (Fast Fourier Transform) on audio-band signals with ADC acquisition modes that can operate at up to 1MS/s (1 million samples per second). It runs at close to 30MIPs and has 48kB of program memory.

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