# Does anyone here use the compiler for PIC processors from CCS?

Gold Member
Does anyone here use the compiler for PIC processors from CCS? I'm learning with the free demo of PCW. The programming language C is new to me but I think I'm getting the hang of it.
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I also have PICkit 2 Debug Express from Microchip. That comes with MPLAB which allows debugging and single stepping, things of this nature, but only allows programming using assembly language unless you have a plug-in for a compiler.
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As far as I can tell, PCW is a full development system. The editor seems very easy to use. I only have the software, I don't have any hardware or programmers for it. I would assume that it would be pointless to purchase the full version of PCWH for $500 when all I need is the PCH command line compiler with a plug-in for MPLAB for$200 because I already have PICkit 2 development system from Microchip. BUT, I would also think that the PCH software doesn't have as nice of an editor as PCW and for someone who is transitioning from using VisualBasic for instrument control to C (me) that may be a problem. Opinions are welcome. Hopefully someone else has been down this road.
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www.ccsinfo.com/content.php?page=compilers

Oh yeah, one last thing. For those considering jumping into the world of PIC processors, the device that comes on a demo board with PICkit 2 Debug Express is an 16F887 which is NOT supported with the free demo compiler PCW from CCS. If you want to practice coding and play with the hardware, you would be wise to get a processor that is supported by the free compiler and wire it up on a proto board. The demo board from Microchip doesn't amount to much really. There is an LED, potentiometer and push button switch on it. There are pads there to solder other things to, but I would do it on a proto board.

berkeman
Mentor
Hi ASN,

I have a co-worker with a fair bit of experience with PICs, so I asked him to look over your question. Here is his response to me via e-mail:

Ted said:
My first experiences with using C on a PIC was with the CCS PCW compiler. CCS has done a fine job with their compilers and extended support functions for all the specialized I/O on a PIC.

I have no experience with the 'PICkit 2 Debug Express' he mentions in his post. But it looks like it is tailored for the CCS line of compilers (since Microchip doesn't make a 'PIC16F..." compiler). And while I purchased my PCW compiler, I see that the demo version has a 2K memory limit, does not support the PIC part that comes with the PICkit 2, and its license expires in 30 days. I don't know what 'expiration' means for CCS.

It looks as though this individual has the pieces figured out and is only looking for an 'opinion'. And as he mentions, even if he changes his target device to one that the demo compiler supports he'll still need a programmer that works with an IDE. It would appear he can either buy the CCS ICD unit to use with the PCW IDE, or the Microchip ICD2 unit to use with the MPLAB IDE (after installing the MPLAB plug-in). It would appear that the MPLAB IDE plug-in is free. The CCS ICD looks to be about half the price of the Microchip ICD2 and may seem be a better value but then you are tied to the PCW compiler's IDE and the license fee it represents when the demo expires.

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As an aside, I personally have come to prefer the C18 C compiler from Microchip. It comes with the free MPLAB IDE which is fully integrated upon installation. And although its demo (student) version also has a 60 day expiration date, it leaves all the most important features intact. This allows you to write high level C code out of the blocks and you never have to worry about dealing with assembler code or about your development system quitting on you because of expiration dates. It also has quite a lot of support documentation, example code, and drivers included. With this setup, all you have to buy is the ICD2 and a PIC18F... protoboard with an RJ-12 connector on it. The problem is that it only supports the PIC18F... parts but if all you are going to do is experiment, the PIC18F...'s are much more potent (more memory, etc) than the PICF16... parts).

Hope this helps!