How to Program a PIC Microcontroller to Build a Project

The recent trends in the advanced technology are helpful in developing most advanced electronic gadgets. Most of  these electronic devices are developed using microcontrollers. The microcontroller is an electronic component, which is programmed to perform various control operations. There are various kinds of microcontrollers available, such as 8051, AVR, ARM, and PIC microcontrollers, etc., which are programmed by using the integrated development tools.

PIC Microcontroller Programming Steps
PIC Microcontroller Programming Steps

PIC Microcontroller

The PIC is a family of the microcontroller, which is manufactured by the different companies such as NXP, microchip, etc. The PIC stands for “peripheral interface controller”, which contains memories, timers/counters, serial communication, interrupts and ADC converters built into a single integrated chip.

The PIC microcontrollers are found in most electronic devices such as alarm systems, traffic control systems and RFID based security systems, etc. The PIC microcontroller programming can be carried out to perform the huge range of tasks. Even though there are many types of PIC microcontrollers , the best and basic microcontroller is PIC16f877a.

PIC Microcontroller Programming Procedure

The PIC microcontrollers is programmed by the  embedded C language or assembly language by using appropriate dedicated software. Before going to build a PIC microcontroller project, we must become aware of developing a basic microcontroller (like 8051) based project. Once you get the idea, this controller based project building becomes easy, so let us  look at the basic steps to build a PIC microcontroller based project.

Before going to program the PIC microcontroller, first we have to select the right project that you are going program the microcontroller. As of now, consider the LEDs flash light system.


The LEDs flashlight  uses a set of light emitting diodes, and these are advanced to the traditional incandescent lights which consumes more energy and have very less life time. The LED lights on the other hand, consume less energy and have longer life.

Basic Idea of this Project Behind the Design:

The microcontroller generates the output logic pulses so that the LED light is switched ON and OFF at certain intervals. It is a 40 pin microcontroller. The Crystal interfaced to the input pins of the microcontroller  provides  accurate clock signals at the crystal frequency.

Circuit Designing

The PIC microcontroller transmit and receive the data with respect to clock pulses, the PIC microcontroller operates with 4MHz crystal frequency. Two capacitors are connected to the crystal oscillator with range of 20pf to 40pf which is used to stabilize the clock signals. At some times, the PIC microcontroller goes to block state or missing time calculation,at that time we need to reset the microcontroller. If a microcontroller is reset for 3sec time delay, 10k resistor and 10uf capacitor are connected to the respective pins.

Circuit Components

Hardware Components

  • Yellow LEDs
  • Crystal
  • Reset
  • PIC Microcontroller
  • Capacitors
  • Resistors

Software Components

Circuit Connections

The 5v DC supply is given to the 11 pin of the microcontroller which  drives  the circuit. The crystal  is connected to the 13 and 14 pins of the microcontroller. The reset circuit is interfaced at 1 pins of the microcontroller. The Yellow LEDs is connected to the PORTB of the microcontroller.

Circuit Diagram

This circuit is designed with the help of Proteus software. The Proteus is a circuit designing software that contains a database of components, which we can use to build the circuit. Each and every component is available in the component library.

PIC Microcontroller Project Circuit Diagram
PIC Microcontroller Project Circuit Diagram
  • Open the Proteus software. A window with a menu bar appears.
  • Click  the file menu.
  • Select ‘new design’ from the drop-down menu.
  • Click  the library menu.
  • Select ‘pick devices/symbol’ from the drop-down menu.
  • Select the relevant comment by double clicking  it, so that the electronic components list appear on the window.
  • Add all the components and draw the circuit with the proper connections as shown above.

Program the PIC Microcontroller

The PIC microcontroller programming is performed through  ‘MP-Lab’ software. First instal the MP-Lab software, then select and  install the compiler like CCS, GCC compiler, etc. Here ‘CCS C compiler’ is used for building the program.

  • First open the MPLAB software. This shows the menu bar with file, edit, view, project and tools option.
  • Select the project option and select the ‘project wired option’ from the drop-down menu. This will show the project wired window.
  • Select a microcontroller for your project. Here ‘PIC16f877A’  microcontroller is selected.
  • Select the compiler and path location for your project. Here  ‘CCS C compiler’ is selected for the PIC microcontroller, then select the ‘browse’ option from the project wired window to select the ‘ccsloader’ in the PICC  folder from the program files.  A folder with the name ‘source group’ is created in the ‘target’ folder.
  • Give a name to the project and click on ‘NEXT’ button to save the project. A folder with the name ‘source group’ is created in the ‘target’ folder.. Click on the ‘file’ menu on the menu bar. Select ‘new file’ from the drop- down menu.
PIC Microcontroller Programming Code
PIC Microcontroller Programming Code

The LED Flash Program:

void delay(int);
sbit a=PB^2;
sbit b=PB^3;
sbit c=PB^4;
sbit d=PB^5;
void main()

void delay(int a )
unsigned char c;

Load the Code to PIC Microcontroller

The code loading process of microcontroller is called dumping. The microcontrollers understand only the machine level language, which contains ‘0 or 1s’. So we need to load the hex code into the microcontroller. There are many softwares available in the market for loading the code to the microcontroller. Here we have used ‘PICFLSH’ programmer software to dump the code to the PIC  microcontroller. The programmer kit comes with the hardware kit along with the software.

This software needs to be installed into the computer. The microcontroller placed in the hardware kit, which comes  with the socket. Here are the steps to load the code onto the microcontroller.

Code Dumping Device
Code Dumping Device
  • Interface the hardware (programmer kit) to the computer through a serial cable
  • Place the microcontroller in the socket of the hardware kit. Press the lock button to ensure the microcontroller is connected to the board.
  • Open the software installed in the computer. This  shows the menu bar with file, functions, open, save and setting options.
  • Select the ‘open’ option from the drop-down menu and select the ‘load file’ .
  • Click on the ‘load’ button so that the hex file is loaded into the microcontroller.
Code Loading to PIC Microcontroller
Code Loading to PIC Microcontroller

Simulating the Circuit

The simulation is a decision analysis and support tool, which is used to know the performance of the circuit. The hardware is the cost-effective  equipment, so the  proposed action cannot be directly observed by the hardware. The simulation software allows you to know the circuit performance and find & rectify the errors of the program. There are different types of simulating softwares available in the market for checking the circuit performance.  Here Proteous software is used to check the circuit performance.

  • Open the project in the Proteus software.
  • Click on the ‘Debug’ menu.
  • Select the ‘start debugging’ option. The LED starts blinking, which indicates the circuit is running.
  • After some time, select the ‘stop debugging’ option. The LED will now stop blinking.

These are the necessary steps for PIC microcontroller programming to develop simple project. Hope that you might have got a basic idea on this topic. Any further assistance to build the PIC based projects or any microcontroller based projects you can contact us by commenting below.

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