Sure Electronics PICkit2 clone teardown

in Teardowns by Ian | 9 comments

board-top-cleaner.450

Today we have teardown photos of a Sure Electronics PICkit2 clone PIC programmer, the type commonly sold on eBay. Scopria, who took these pictures, reports that his programmer stopped working after a few months.  He recommends a real Microchip PICkit2 because it’s only a couple dollars more.

Teardown photos and a look at the circuit board after the break.

sure-top.450

This is the outside of the Sure Electronics PICkit2 clone. It copies the Microchip PICkit2 appearance almost exactly.

back-of-the-board.450

The back of the PCB. The six-pin header is how you program the on-board microcontroller.

board-top.450

The board was absolutely covered in flux. Scopria thinks this might have contributed to its early demise.

overview

After a quick clean the board looks much better. This PCB layout is totally different than the Microchip PICkit2 we looked at yesterday, so it’s not an exact clone.

One of the first things we noticed was the missing EEPROM chips (4). This version won’t work as a stand-alone remote programmer. Let’s look at some of the other components.

  1. A PIC 18F2550 USB microcontroller runs the show.
  2. 20MHz crystal for the 18F2550.
  3. Programming header for the 18F2550.
  4. Two 24LC512 I2C EEPROMs that store firmware for remote programming are missing.
  5. A pushbutton to begin programming.
  6. A switched-mode power supply (SMPS) makes a 13volt programming voltage from the 5volt USB supply. You can identify this by the inductor coil and large smoothing capacitor.
  7. Three indicator LEDs.
  8. Level shifting allows the 5volt-powered programmer to work with parts at different supply voltages.
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Comments

  1. ewertz says:

    “covered in flux” — how delightful.

    So what would you do if you received a board like that, already populated. Could you still give it a good hot water bath and scrubbing, and if that didn’t work, the same with isopropyl alcohol?

    I’d clearly be hesitant to ever order anything from these guys unless I knew I had some potential outs.

    ++tkx

  2. Ian says:

    Scorpia said he used contact cleaner. I’m not sure if ISO or water is better for cleaning flux. I clean my own flux with acetone (nail polish remover).

  3. ewertz says:

    I think that it depends on the type of flux — I believe that some are water-soluble and some are not.

    I couldn’t tell if he cleaned his board upon receipt or after it had already failed. I was curious if he had cleaned it right away, because if so, it apparently didn’t help and the product was simply “bad” by some measure.

    Sounds like both of you aren’t down on Sure in spite of it. I already have a PK2 and an ICD2, but I was considering them for something else. So, I’m currently still “not Sure”… :-)

    tkx

  4. Ian says:

    It’s my understanding that he started the teardown on the broken board, noticed it was covered in flux, and then cleaned it. I believe Scopria is an electronics tech, and he mentioned it as a reason the board may have only lasted a few months. I’ll try to get him to comment here.

    I’ve never used the Sure stuff, but I heard a ton of good comments about it when I was writing at Hack a Day. The Sure ICD2 clone used to be about $30, it’s a lot more now, but that was a bargain compared to the $150 ICD2 that I use (though I got a -$50 academic discount if I recall).

  5. Mike says:

    The flux may not be the issue if non-clean type of Flux is used. Try check the op-amplifier, it is well know this design used a wrong op-amplifier which will lead to malfunction. Is the inductor shielded or not?

  6. Ben Symon says:

    Could the two 24LC512 I2C EEPROMs be put in place?

  7. Shlomi says:

    Hello,
    I read your post regarding to sureelectronics pickit 2 and I still decided to buy one from them. I’ve opened my 34$ cost device (including shipping to Israel) and I didn’t find any of the disadvantages that you discribed in the post. The EEPROMs are exist and the board is cleaned from flux. Actually, my board looks a little bit different from your’s. Maybe you got an old version of cloned pickit 2 or maybe sureelecronics improved their device after they got some bad feedbacks.
    Anyway it works fine and I’m pleased. I’ve tried to upload some pictures, but I couldn’t find how to do that.

    Shlomi

  8. villamany says:

    at this moment i can see two pickit2 models on sure: the pickit2 (with memory ICs) and the “mini pickit 2 (without memory) :).

    I have a more previous model working for some years and come with merory:
    [IMG]http://i146.photobucket.com/albums/r247/villamany/PICS/d0a94f24-4470-403c-a1c9-380f5e7e41a8.jpg[/IMG]

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