Microchip PICkit2 teardown


PICkit2 is a programmer for Microchip PIC microcontrollers. It has limited debugging features and a low-speed serial protocol analyzer. It’s really useful for low-volume production programming because it can store firmware and program circuits while not attached to a PC. Buy it at Mouser for about $40, Digi-Key has the new PICkit3 for about $70.

We’ve been discussing programmers for the PIC24F- in the web server on a business card forum, so Scorpia sent us these teardown pictures. More photos and a quick look at the components after the break.


The PICkit2 connects to a PC over USB, and programs from a 6 pin header. This is a lot more convenient that the telephone-jack (RJ-11) style connector on the ICD2 we use.

The order of programming pins is VPP, +, -, data, clock. We didn’t know this was a standard, so the Bus Pirate v2go programming datapins are the opposite of the PICkit2 arrangement. We swapped them on the Bus Pirate v3 PCB so they match the PICkit2 standard.


The back of the PCB. The six-pin header is how you program the PICkit’s microcontroller.


This is the PICkit2 PCB. Let’s look at some of the 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.
  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.

Scoripa also sent teardown photos of a PICkit2 clone purchased on eBay, we’ll post those soon.

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  1. That’s a great programmer, I got mine @ $50 from microchipdirect including a demo board. It’s great you swapped PGC and PGD pins in the new Bus Pirate, I’m waiting for preorder 2 so I might rewire those pins on arrival. Maybe I should post the procedure somewhere.

  2. Indeed, the PK2 is the best PIC programmer I have ever seen from Microchip. It is a pity Microchip dropped PK2 so early and the PK3, which suppose to replace the PK2, still doesn’t catch up what PK2 can.

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