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Startseite > Other > PICKit3 Programmer Pinout, Features, Datasheet, and Uses

PICKit3 Programmer Pinout, Features, Datasheet, and Uses

Updatezeit: 2024-06-28 14:40:37


The Pickit 3 is a popular tool designed by Microchip Technology for programming and debugging Microchip’s range of microcontrollers and digital signal controllers. It serves as a bridge for developers to easily upload code directly into the microcontroller's memory, offering capabilities that are essential for both development and troubleshooting in electronic systems. Compatible with MPLAB X IDE and the earlier MPLAB IDE, Pickit 3 supports a wide array of devices and ensures a seamless user experience through its USB-powered connection.

Overview of the Pickit 3 Programmer/Debugger

The PicKit 3, compatible with the MPLAB IDE on the Windows platform, is designed to program and debug PIC microcontrollers that support ICSP (In-Circuit Serial Programming). This allows programming with just two pins (PGD and PGC) aside from the power pins.

When you purchase a PicKit 3, it comes with a USB cable, a CD, and header pins. The USB cable connects the PicKit 3 to your PC, while the CD contains the necessary drivers for Windows to recognize the device. Additionally, the PicKit 3 features on-board diagnostic LEDs and a push button.



Power LED

This LED lights up in green colour when the PicKit3 receives power

Active LED

This LED lights up in blue colour when the Picit 3 can establish a communication link to our PC

Status LED

This LED lights up in Yellow colour when the Pickit 3 is busy programming our PIC

It also lights up in Red colour if an Error occurs in the programming process

Push Button

This push button is used “Programmer-to-go” where you can program your PIC without a PC

PICKit3 Programmer.jpg

Importance of Efficient Programming and Debugging in Electronics Development

In the world of electronics development, efficiency in programming and debugging directly correlates with shorter development cycles, cost reduction, and improved product performance. Efficient programming tools like the Pickit 3 enable developers to swiftly write, test, and optimize code, reducing the time-to-market for new devices. Debugging tools are equally important as they help identify and fix errors in the code, ensuring that the final product operates reliably under various conditions. These capabilities are crucial in maintaining competitive advantage and achieving technical advancements in a fast-paced industry.

PicKit 3 Pinout

Pin Number

Pin Name




Connected to Master clear external reset pin of PIC to reset the MCU before programming


VDD (Target)

Target voltage of PIC, 5V or 3.3V



Ground pin of the system



Program Data(PDG) is connected to the In Circuit Serial Programming (ICSP) data pin



Program Clock (PGC) is connected to In Circuit Serial Programming (ICSP) clock pin


No connection

This pin is reserved for future use

Pickit 3 Features

  • Programs and debugs PIC microcontrollers

  • Simple PC interface through a USB cable

  • Compatible with standard Windows drivers

  • Includes a "programmer-to-go" feature for programming without a PC

  • Equipped with built-in over-voltage and short-circuit monitoring

  • Includes on-board diagnostic LEDs

  • Supports the latest versions of PIC microcontrollers and IDEs

Getting Started with Pickit 3

Unboxing and Initial Setup

What's in the box?

When you unbox a new Pickit 3, the package typically contains the Pickit 3 Debugger/Programmer, a USB cable for connecting to a computer, and a set of header pins that may need to be soldered onto the debugger for connection to the target board. Documentation included in the box provides basic instructions and references to online resources for more detailed guidance.

Setting up your workspace for Pickit 3

To set up your workspace for using the Pickit 3, ensure you have a clean, static-free environment to prevent any potential damage to the sensitive electronics. You will need a PC with adequate software installed, a target board for the microcontroller, and space for the Pickit 3 itself. Having a dedicated space for your development kit can simplify the setup and ensure that you have all necessary tools at hand, such as soldering equipment, if header pins need to be attached to the debugger.

Software Installation

Recommended operating systems and compatibility

The Pickit 3 is compatible with Windows, macOS, and Linux systems, ensuring broad accessibility for developers using different operating systems. Before installation, verify that your system meets the necessary requirements specified by Microchip, typically found on their official website or within the product documentation.

Step-by-step software installation guide

  1. Download Software: Start by downloading the latest version of the MPLAB X IDE from the Microchip official website.

  2. Install MPLAB X IDE: Run the installer and follow the on-screen instructions. Depending on your operating system, you might need administrative privileges to complete the installation.

  3. Install Drivers: During the installation process, ensure that the drivers for the Pickit 3 are correctly installed. These drivers are crucial for the PC to recognize the device.

  4. Verify Installation: After installation, open MPLAB X IDE and connect the Pickit 3 to your PC using the USB cable. The software should recognize the Pickit 3. If it doesn’t, refer to the help section on the Microchip website for troubleshooting tips.

Connecting the Pickit 3 to Your PC

Necessary cables and ports

A standard USB cable (included in the box) is required to connect the Pickit 3 to your PC. The device connects via a USB port, so ensure your PC has a free USB port available. For best performance, use a direct connection rather than through a USB hub.

Ensuring proper connection

To ensure a proper connection, follow these steps:

  1. Connect the USB cable to the Pickit 3 and your PC: Make sure the connections are secure at both ends.

  2. Check Device Recognition: Once connected, your PC should recognize the Pickit 3 as a new device and complete any necessary setup. If the device is not recognized, check the USB cable connection, try different ports, or refer to the troubleshooting section in the MPLAB X IDE software.

How to connect PicKit 3 with PIC microcontroller

To program PIC microcontrollers using the PicKit2 or PicKit3, ensure the microcontroller supports ICSP (In-Circuit Serial Programming). Check the microcontroller’s pinout for the Vpp, Vdd, Vss, ICSPDAT, and ICSPCLK pins, noting that pin numbers vary depending on the IC package. Refer to the diagram below for a general guide.

After identifying the pins, connect them to the corresponding pins on the PicKit, and proceed with programming or debugging your device. Both the PIC and the PicKit need to be powered during these operations. Be cautious with the voltage settings in the software; for instance, using 5V to program a 3.3V PIC can potentially damage the IC or the PicKit.


Programming Basics

Supported Devices

The Pickit 3 is compatible with a wide range of Microchip microcontrollers, including PIC10, PIC12, PIC16, PIC18, dsPIC30, and dsPIC33 families. To verify compatibility:

  1. Visit the Microchip official website.

  2. Check the device list in the MPLAB X IDE under the 'Programmer' settings.

Loading and Configuring Firmware

To load and update the firmware on the Pickit 3:

  1. Connect the Pickit 3 to your PC using the USB cable.

  2. Open MPLAB X IDE, go to the 'Tools' menu, and select 'Pickit 3 Firmware Loader'.

  3. Follow on-screen instructions to load and update the firmware, ensuring the device is compatible with the latest microcontrollers.

Other PIC Programming Tools

PicKit 2, ICD 2, ICD 3.

Setting Up the Development Environment

Setting up the development environment involves:

  1. Selecting the correct device in MPLAB X IDE from the device settings.

  2. Configuring project properties to match the target device’s architecture and capabilities.

  3. Specifying compiler toolchains and ensuring all paths are correctly set for seamless integration and compilation

Advanced Programming Techniques

Debugging with Pickit 3

Advanced debugging techniques include:

  • Breakpoints: To pause execution at a specific line of code or condition.

  • Watchpoints: To halt execution when a particular variable changes.

  • Real-time debugging: Facilitated by MPLAB X IDE, allowing for on-the-fly observation of code execution and variable states.

Scripting and Automation

Scripting within MPLAB X IDE can be achieved by:

  1. Writing custom scripts in Tcl or Python to automate repetitive tasks.

  2. Using the scripting console in MPLAB X to execute and manage scripts, enhancing productivity and reducing manual intervention.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Hardware Troubleshooting

Common hardware issues might include:

  • Connection failures: Check and replace faulty USB cables or ports.

  • Power issues: Ensure the target device and Pickit 3 are powered correctly according to specifications.

  • LED indicators not behaving as expected: Refer to the Pickit 3 user guide to understand LED patterns and their meanings. Consider hardware repair if persistent issues occur after troubleshooting steps.

Software Troubleshooting

Frequent software issues often involve:

  • Driver installation problems: Reinstall drivers, ensuring compatibility with your operating system.

  • Communication errors with MPLAB X IDE: Check for software updates or patches. Reset settings within MPLAB X IDE or reinstall the software if issues persist.

Pickit 3 Programmer/Debugger Applications

  • Program PIC Microcontrollers

  • Debug PIC Microcontrollers

  • Code dumping in production process

  • Flashing or Firmware update

Difference between Pickit 2 and PicKit 3

The PicKit 2 is an earlier version of the PicKit 3, and while they both perform similar functions, the PicKit 3 offers additional features and support for newer PIC microcontroller versions. It also provides faster debugging compared to the PicKit 2. For beginners, the PicKit 2 is sufficient. However, if you require advanced features like a built-in logic analyzer, consider exploring the ICD3.


The Pickit 3 is a versatile tool that significantly simplifies the process of programming and debugging Microchip microcontrollers. Its features like real-time debugging, wide range of device compatibility, and robust firmware support make it an indispensable asset in the development cycle. Optimizing the use of Pickit 3 involves keeping the firmware updated, utilizing the extensive resources provided by Microchip, and actively participating in the community to learn and share insights.

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  • Is PICkit 3 obsolete?
  • The Pickit3 programmer is obsolete.

  • What does a PICkit 3 do?
  • The PICkit 3 is a programmer and debugger system designed for developing hardware and software for Microchip's PIC® microcontrollers (MCUs) and dsPIC® Digital Signal Controllers (DSCs). It supports In-Circuit Serial Programming™ (ICSP™) and the Enhanced In-Circuit Serial Programming 2-wire serial interfaces.

  • What devices are supported by PICkit 3?
  • Microchip PIC10F, PIC12F, PIC16F, PIC18F, PIC24F, dsPIC30, dsPIC33 family with MPLAB X IDE and MPLAB IPE software.

  • How to debug using PICkit 3?
  • Debugging with the PICkit 3 involves initiating a debug run by selecting Debug > Debug Project, which will build the project, program the target device with the image and debug executive, and start a debug session. Alternatively, to execute your code in Non-Debug (release) mode, select Run > Run Project to run your code without entering debug mode.

  • What is the difference between PICkit 3 and PICkit 4?
  • The PICkit 4 enhances the capabilities of the PICkit 3 by significantly increasing programming speed, making it at least five times faster. It also offers better USB connectivity, a wider range of debugging options, and supports a more extensive voltage range.

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