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Getting Started with pic kit 3

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An overview of the PICkit 3 programmer/debugger system is given.

PICkit 3 programmer/debugger Defined

☞How the PICkit 3 Programmer/Debugger Helps You

PICkit 3 programmer/debugger Components

☞Device and Feature Support

PICkit 3 programmer/debugger Defined

The PICkit 3 programmer/debugger (see Figure 1-1) is a simple, low-cost in-circuit debugger that is controlled by a PC running MPLAB IDE (v8.20 or greater) software on a Windows® platform. The PICkit 3 programmer/debugger is an integral part of the development engineer’s toolsuite. The application usage can vary from software development to hardware integration.

The PICkit 3 programmer/debugger is a debugger system used for hardware and software development of Microchip PIC® microcontrollers (MCUs) and dsPIC® Digital Signal Controllers (DSCs) that are based on In-Circuit Serial Programming™ (ICSP™) and Enhanced In-Circuit Serial Programming 2-wire serial interfaces. In addition to debugger functions, the PICkit 3 programmer/debugger system also may be used as a development programmer.

The debugger system executes code like an actual device because it uses a device with built-in emulation circuitry, instead of a special debugger chip, for emulation. All available features of a given device are accessible interactively, and can be set and modified by the MPLAB IDE interface.

The PICkit 3 debugger was developed for emulating embedded processors with debug facilities. The PICkit 3 features include:

☞Full-speed USB support using Windows standard drivers

☞Real-time execution

☞Processors run at maximum speeds

☞Built-in over-voltage/short circuit monitor

☞Low voltage to 5V (1.8-5V range)

☞Diagnostic LEDs (power, active, status)

☞Read/write program and data memory of microcontroller

☞Erase of all memory types (EEPROM, ID, configuration and program) with verification

☞Peripheral freeze at breakpoint

Lanyard Connection

A convenient lanyard connection is available on the programmer.

USB Port Connection

The USB port connection is a USB mini-B connector. Connect the PICkit 3 to the PC using the supplied USB cable.

Pin 1 Marker

This marker designates the location of pin 1 for proper connector alignment.

Programming Connector

The programming connector is a 6-pin header (0.100″ spacing) that connects to the target device. See the pinout specification in Figure 1-2.

Status LEDs

The Status LEDs indicate the status of the PICkit 3.

1. Power (green) – Power is supplied to the PICkit 3 via the USB port.

2. Active (blue) – The PICkit 3 has connection to the PC USB port and the communication link is active.

3. Status: Busy (yellow) – The PICkit 3is busy with a function in progress, such as programming. Error (red) – The PICkit 3 has encountered an error.

How the PICkit 3 programmer/debugger Helps You

The PICkit 3 programmer/debugger allows you to:

☞Debug your application on your own hardware in real time

☞Debug with hardware breakpoints

☞Set breakpoints based on internal events

☞Monitor internal file registers

☞Emulate at full speed

☞Program your device

PICkit 3 programmer/debugger Components

The components of the PICkit 3 programmer/debugger system are:

PICkit 3 with indicator lights for power, activity and status.

☞USB cable to provide communications between the debugger and a PC and to provide power to the debugger.

☞CD-ROM with MPLAB IDE software and on-line documentation.

Additional hardware that may be ordered separately:

PICkit 3 Debug Express Kit which includes: – a 44-pin demo board with a PIC18F45K20 MCU – free version of MPLAB C Compiler for PIC18 MCUs – easy-to-understand lessons and tutorials – other software utilities, examples with source code and full documentation

☞Transition socket

☞ICD headers

☞MPLAB IDE processor extension kits

Device and Feature Support

Table 1-1 and Table 1-2 show the support for devices and device features.


FeaturedsPIC33F, PIC24F/HdsPIC30F SMPS(1)dsPIC30F
Reset applicationCCC
Run, HaltCCC
Single stepCCC
Full-speed emulation             CCC
Hardware breakpointsCCC
Peripheral freeze(2)CCC
Break on data fetch or writeCCC
Break on stack overflowNNN
Pass counterCCC
WDT overflowCCN
Standard speed communicationCCC
Processor PakFFN


C = Current support D = Support dependent on device F = No support now, but planned in the future N = Support not available

Note 1: Current Switch Mode Power Supply (SMPS) devices: dsPIC30F1010/2020/2023. 2: This feature operates differently depending on the selected device.


Reset applicationCCC
Run, HaltCCC
Single stepCCC
Full-speed emulationCCC
Hardware breakpointsCCC
Peripheral freeze(1)CCC
Break on data fetch or writeCCN
Break on stack overflowCCN
Pass counterCCN
WDT overflowCNN
Standard speed communicationCCC
Processor PakFFF


C = Current support F = No support now, but planned in the future N = Support not available Note 1: This feature operates differently depending on the selected device.



A simplified description of how the PICkit 3 programmer/debugger system works is provided here. It is intended to provide enough information so a target board can be designed that is compatible with the debugger for both emulation and programming operations. The basic theory of in-circuit emulation and programming is described so that problems, if encountered, are quickly resolved.

PICkit 3 vs. PICkit 2

☞Debugger to Target Communication

☞Communication Connections


☞Requirements for Debugging


☞Resources Used by the Debugger

PICkit 3VS. PICkit 2

The PICkit 3 programmer/debugger system is similar in function to the PICkit 2 in-circuit debugger system. Similarities of the two debuggers include:

☞Powered via USB cable to PC

☞Provides a programmable voltage power supply The PICkit 3 differs from the PICkit 2 by providing:

☞Extended EE program image space (512 Kbytes)

☞True voltage reference

☞Increased voltage range (1.8-5V VDD; 1.8-14V VPP)

Debugger to Target Communication

The debugger system configurations are discussed in the following sections.


Do not change hardware connections while the PICkit 3 or target is powered.

Standard ICSP Device Communication

The debugger system can be configured to use standard ICSP communication for both programming and debugging functions. This 6-pin connection is the same one used by the PICkit 2 programmer/debugger.

The modular cable can be either (1) inserted into a matching socket at the target, where the target device is on the target board (Figure 2-1), or (2) inserted into a standard adapter/header board combo (available as a Processor Pak), which in then plugged into the target board (Figure 2-2).


Older header boards used a 6-pin (RJ-11) connector instead of an 8-pin connector, so these headers may be connected to the debugger with the AC164110 ICSP adapter.

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