Quick And Easy DIY PIC Development Board


A few months back, [Phil] was looking to get into PIC development, but he couldn’t seem to find a simple development board for the PIC16F883 microcontroller he wanted to use. Since no retail offering had exactly what he was looking for, he decided to put together a dev board of his own.

He spent a couple hours in Eagle, putting together a simple board layout. [Phil] then busted out the iron and copper clad, making his dev board a reality using the tried and true toner transfer method.

He says that the board itself is quite simple, consisting of little more than the PIC, an LM1117 linear voltage regulator, and all the pin headers you could possibly need. While very basic and not necessarily a hack, we do like seeing people make their own tools when the market doesn’t provide what they want.

If you have been looking around for a simple PIC development solution, be sure to swing by [Phil’s] site – all of the schematics and layout files are free for the taking.

27 thoughts on “Quick And Easy DIY PIC Development Board

  1. “not necessarily a hack”

    this is most definitely a hack!

    it takes a certain level of intelligence to use a tool. it takes a higher level of intelligence to design a new tool.

  2. Very clean looking, I like the quality of the build. While it may be a simple board it definitely looks professional which is important, nothing is worse than a tool that needs to be repaired all the time just to work as intended.

  3. Stop being apologetic just to fend off trolls. Those of us who read and like the site know it’s not all about hacking, and enjoy the different topics you offer. People who respond “hurr durr this is not a h4xors!” can easily go to some other site that caters their needs. There is always someone who will find articles like these useful.

    1. Couldn’t agree more, sinking to the level of the trolls just encourages them to sink lower, and in all honesty, I’m really sick of hackaday running down the projects that feed their site. If you think a project is not up to the hackaday standard, don’t publish it.

      The only response to the trolls should be to ask them to post their project details for comparison.

      I have seen a couple of troll infested forums become virtually troll free within a couple of months using this method. It’s like any other bully, stand up to them and they slope off looking for easier prey.

      1. We certainly don’t think that this project is below Hack a Day standards – if it was, we would not post it. The statement was merely pointing out that this is not a ‘hack’ in the traditional sense.

        It is however an incredibly useful tool made by someone with genuine interest in the subject, which is something we respect and appreciate.

        It would be silly to limit ourselves to ‘hacks’ in the strictest sense of the word, because there are just too many great projects out there to ignore. Sometimes we short-circuit the ‘not a hack’ trolls by stating the obvious, as they tend to believe we are not able to discern between what is a hack, and what is not.

        While I do personally like your idea of ‘calling them out’ to show off their handiwork, it is always a one-sided proposal as we have never (that I can recall) received a reply to such a request.

    2. @ScottInNH

      It’s just the dev board.

      A pickit2 or pickit3 (genuine or clone) is a good starting place if you are using Windows. There is some Linux support for them and there are plenty of DIY programmers, but what you have to ask yourself is how many learning curves do you want to take on?

  4. This looks nice, and DIY cheap is always good.
    Is this only a dev board, or a dev+programmer board?
    (as the Arduino is, for Atmel)

    If you want to build a programmer for PIC, how would you go about that? What I mean is, if a programmer board requires a programmed PIC to control it, you have a “chicken and egg” scenario.

    There’s a couple of nice PIC tutorials out there and I would like to follow them… but want to spend as little as possible to get there (and I don’t have old fashioned serial ports… just USB).

    Sorry, off topic, but not completely. :)

    1. It’s just the dev board. A pickit2 or pickit3 (genuine or clone) is a good starting place if you are using windows. There is some Linux support for them and there are plenty of DIY programmers. But what you have to ask yourself is how many learning curves do you want to take on?

    2. It’s not a programming board, just a dev board.

      And yes, if you want to build a PIC programmer you’ll need a programmed PIC, but it’s easier just to buy one (a $30 PICkit from Microchip or $30 ICD2 clone from ebay for debugging support).

      That’s true of every uC though, it’s just that the Arduino comes with a bootloader already programmed. There are PIC bootloaders out there if you can find a way to get the bootload code on the chip in the first place.

    3. How possible is it to use say a Atmel board to program a PIC chip? Or the reverse?

      It seems to me that the host programmer chip does not actually have to be the “same”.. but then again there might be other issues that make it not so simple.

      $30 isn’t too bad for a programming board, I’ll admit. Part of my question is based in curiosity, not valuing time less than money. :-)

      1. You can program anything with anything as long as you send the right commands and data to the target.

        When PCs still commonly had parallel ports a lot of people built “programmers” that just allowed the parallel port pins to send data from a program on the PC.

        I love working with microcontrollers but have no interest in building my own programmer… YMMV.

    1. for a few years I’ve been using AutoCAD to draw my circuit boards. I got into that habit in college and never quite grew out of it.

      Been hearing alot about Eagle lately. Is it worth learning to use?

      Also, why don’t more people use photo-resist to transfer thier artwork to the copper clad boards? 20 minutes under florescent lights, couple seconds in diluted developer, and then it’s ready for the acid bath…

      1. Careful! By asking about Eagle, you’re about to start an Eagle/Kicad war. Like the infamous vi/emacs war, it will leave a scorched earth with no winner…..;^)

        Eagle (or Kicad or whatever) is definitely worth learning if you’re going to be laying out boards with any regularity. AutoCAD, IMHO, is more geared towards control systems and ladder logic diagrams. If I was going to design an industrial PLC-based system, I’d use AutoCAD. If I was designing a circuit board, I’d use Eagle or something similar. Just a right-tool-for-the-task opinion.

        While photoresist is nice, the problem is that you have to have the coated board for it. With toner transfer, I can grab any old copper clad board, cut it to size, and transfer. With the resist board, you could do the same, but you’d have to cut it under red-light conditions and store the board properly. Not a big deal, but for me, toner transfer is easier.

        That said, if I have a design that efficiently uses standard size pre-treated boards, I do prefer to do it that way. I think you get cleaner and sharper traces.

        You could make up your own pretreated boards. I haven’t tried that, mainly because the resist stuff seems rather expensive and hard to get. Anybody else have experience with that?

  5. @Mike Nathan

    The trolls won’t respond but when the community calls them out it does two things. One, it supports the original poster and two, makes the troll feel bad by reminding them that they have nothing to offer other than hate.

  6. Fine work. Regulated 3.3/5V are a nice touch. Here’s my version for the Atmel ATmega48:


    The headers replicate the pinout of Atmel’s STK500. There are connections for an external clock, but I haven’t needed that yet. I’ve made a couple of these and they’re super useful. Like an Arduino without the parts I don’t want.

  7. I wonder if you could just disable the heater of a laserprinter and then put the paper on a PCB and iron it, bypass the fusing stage of the printer.
    Or would the image just wipe off when you move the paper? I mean the rollers of the printer would press it to the paper but without the heater the polymer would not melt yet so I think it might work, what do think?
    Mind you the toner is carcinogenic and very fine dust, so you’d be in dangerous areas, but perhaps something can be set up to keep it contained though.

    Anyway, just hack-musing :)

    1. What I do is time how long my printer takes to start printing and print the design before the page enters the heater. I then open the cover at that time and that causes the printer to stop printing and I remove the paper with the toner attached but not heated. The toner sticks pretty good to the paper and as long as you are careful and don’t rub it , transfer to the board is fairly easy.

      1. Thanks for confirming my theory as it were, interesting to hear.
        But be careful and perhaps use a facemask, since researchers say the toner is pretty nasty in raw form. Better safe than certain.

  8. Very professional looking! I think it’s always great when people cook up these dev kits on their own, especially considering the price of them when you start to get a sizable collection.

Leave a Reply

Please be kind and respectful to help make the comments section excellent. (Comment Policy)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.