I believe that the PIC18 series is the best family when diving into the world of microcontrollers. Myself, I have a PIC18F2620. It's a solid, all round, feature-rich chip with lots of flash and ram (64K, 3K). It's really easy to work with, very reliable, comes in a 28 pin DIP package and is compatible with the Microchip C18 compiler.
This tutorial assumes that you know basic electronics and how to wire up a breadboard or solder your components prototyping board. It is also assumed that the reader knows basic C programming and is able to understand and modify basic C code to his/her requirements.
To get started, you'll need a PIC18 series microcontroller (such as the PIC18F2620). To program the chip, you'll need an ICSP programmer. I recommend the PICKIT2 as it is Microchip's own development programmer, is compatible with a wide range of chips, can do very easy UART communication between the PIC and PC and can even act as a mini logic analyzer. You'll also need a small development board (a breadboard or prototyping board, doesn't matter). And of course, you'll need a computer to use as a development machine. Your operating system doesn't matter, as long as you know your way around it well enough.
Setting Up The Circuit
To begin, wire up your circuit as follows:
Then connect the PICKIT2 and load the "PICKIT2 Operating System" onto the chip.
Writing Your First Program
Will be in the next post...